Press Releases

WASHINGTON—United States Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Bill Hagerty’s (R-TN) Communist China’s Digital Currency – National Security Risks Act has been included in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 as marked-up by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 

The bill requires the Biden Administration to report on the potential short-, medium-, and long-term national security risks to the United States associated with Communist China’s creation and use of an official digital currency. The bill requires reporting specifically on risks arising from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) potential surveillance of financial transactions; risks related to security and illicit finance; and risks related to economic coercion and social control by the CCP.

“A Chinese digital currency could have significant national security implications for the U.S.,” said Senator Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “This bill will ensure the intelligence community is monitoring and reporting on the risks posed by China’s digital currency, including its potential to be used as a way to evade U.S. sanctions or increase the Chinese government’s surveillance and ability to exert social or economic control. We cannot be caught flat-footed on these developments, which is why I fought to include this bill in the Intelligence Authorization Act.”

“I am pleased the Intelligence Committee has included this requirement for a report in its Intelligence Authorization Act,” said Senator Hagerty, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party has been developing a digital version of its currency and may have the most advanced state-sponsored digital currency among major economies in the world. CCP officials are now ramping up for wider-spread deployment of its digital currency by the 2022 Winter Olympics. This will provide the CCP with additional information about financial transactions and economic activity, and could be used to evade U.S. sanctions. Now is the time for the U.S. intelligence community to act and inform us of their assessment of the different national security risks to America so that Congress may act appropriately and protect the U.S. Dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency—a key ingredient of America’s global leadership.”

###

WASHINGTON — Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the American Telecommunications Security Act to prohibit federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act from being used to purchase Chinese telecommunications equipment, including from Huawei and ZTE. 

Text of the bill may be found here.

“With states across the country mapping out their plans for quality and affordable high-speed internet as a result of historic funding from the American Rescue Plan, we’ve got to make sure no community is sacrificing network security,” said Warner. “That’s why I’m joining Sen. Cotton on a bipartisan bill to ensure states do not purchase equipment or services from companies that pose national security risks – such as Huawei and ZTE.” 

"American tax dollars should not be sent to Chinese spy companies like Huawei that undermine our national security. The U.S government must take strong action to cut the Chinese Communist Party out of our networks. Americans deserve both reliable and secure telecommunications technologies," said Cotton.

###

WASHINGTON – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (IAA) today on a bipartisan 16-0 vote. The bill authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).

“The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 authorizes the funding for America’s intelligence agencies, and ensures they have the resources, personnel and authorities they need to keep our country safe, while operating under vigorous supervision and oversight,”said Committee Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “The funding and authorities provided in this bill will increase the Intelligence Community’s ability to detect and counter cyber threats, ransomware attacks, and other emerging threats, including those from near-peer adversaries such as China and Russia. This IAA will also reinforce oversight of the IC by strengthening protections for whistleblowers, reforming the security clearance process, and mandating a robust response to reported cases of ‘Havana Syndrome.’”

“Today the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to report legislation that rightly increases Intelligence Community resourcing focused on the threat posed by the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” said Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “The bill also reaffirms the Committee’s critical role in overseeing of the Intelligence Community through provisions that protect Americans’ First Amendment rights, ensure expenditures are made judiciously, and hold the intelligence agencies accountable for their activities.  In addition, the bill prioritizes the Committee’s ongoing oversight of China’s malign influence operations, unidentified aerial phenomena, and importantly, the safety of the men and women of the Intelligence Community, by expressly addressing the likely directed energy attacks that have inflicted brain injuries and the associated symptomology known as the ‘Havana Syndrome,’ as well as other physical harms, on American personnel around the world.” 

Background:

  • The IAA for Fiscal Year 2022 ensures that the Intelligence Community can perform its critical mission to protect our country and inform decisionmakers, while under robust Congressional oversight, including in the following key areas:

  • Ensuring strong congressional oversight of and protections for IC whistleblowers who come forward to report waste, fraud or abuse, including the ability of whistleblowers to directly contact the congressional intelligence committees, and prohibiting the disclosure of whistleblower identities as a form of reprisal;

  • Improving the IC’s response to the anomalous health incidents (AHI), known as “Havana Syndrome,” including by establishing a joint task force to address AHI, establishing a panel to assess the CIA’s response to AHI, requiring reporting on interagency AHI efforts, and providing affected IC employees and family members with access to expert medical advice and health facilities, including Walter Reed Medical Center;

  • Increasing investments to address the growing national security threats and challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party and its related influence operations, including in technology, infrastructure, and digital currencies;

  •  Improving the IC’s ability to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies;

  • Continuing the Committee’s commitment to reform and improve the security clearance process, including mandating a performance management framework to assess the adoption and effectiveness of the Executive Branch’s “Trusted Workforce 2.0” initiative; more accurately measuring how long it takes to transfer clearances between Federal agencies so it can be shortened; creating IC-wide policies to share information on cleared contractors to enhance the effectiveness of insider threat programs, and codifying the appeals process to increase its transparency and accountability; 

  • Codifying the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s role and authorities regarding counterintelligence programs;

  • Addressing intelligence requirements in key locations worldwide, including in Latin America and Africa to confront foreign adversaries’ efforts to undermine the U.S. abroad;

  • Bolstering investments in commercial imagery and analytic services to utilize the increasing capabilities offered in the commercial space sector, including through theestablishment of a GEOINT data innovation fund;

  • Strengthening the IC’s ability to conduct financial intelligence; and

  •  Supporting the IC’s efforts to assess unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), following up on the work of the UAP Task Force.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after the Biden administration unveiled its National Security Memorandum to safeguard U.S. critical infrastructure from cyberattacks:

“I applaud the Biden administration for taking additional steps to secure our critical infrastructure and bolster our cybersecurity standards after a wave of cyberattacks. As the administration noted, we know that in order to mitigate the aftermath of these cyberattacks, we need open communication and transparency from affected entities to better anticipate and respond to these national security threats. Unfortunately, for too long we’ve relied heavily on voluntary reporting of these cyber intrusions which has limited our ability to effectively respond. In order to better anticipate and respond to future cyber incidents, Congress must swiftly pass the Cyber Incident Notification Act of 2021, which will work in concert with the steps the administration has put forth today to safeguard our critical infrastructure.” 

###

WASHINGTON—Today, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from likely directed energy attacks.  The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, which was authored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would authorize additional financial support for injured individuals.

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and there have been according to the press more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil.  Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency heads additional authority to provide financial and medical support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks.

“As the Intelligence Committee continues to push for more answers on these mysterious and debilitating attacks, I’m proud that the Senate overwhelmingly approved this bipartisan bill to ensure our U.S. personnel receive the compensation and care they rightfully deserve,” said Senate Intel Chairman Warner. “We continue to be indebted to these brave men and women who proudly serve our country while putting their own safety on the line, and this bill will make sure that we can provide financial relief as they seek medical treatment for the injuries they’ve endured.”

“Far too many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have had to battle the bureaucracy to receive care for their debilitating injuries.  American personnel who have undergone these attacks while serving our country should be treated the same way we would treat a soldier who suffered a traumatic injury on the battlefield,” said Senator Collins.  “I am pleased that there has been widespread, bipartisan support for my bill, which will provide additional support to these government employees who were harmed while representing our interests.  We also need a whole-of-government approach to determine what this weapon is and who is wielding it in order to prevent future attacks and protect Americans.”

“I am pleased to see the Senate pass this important bipartisan legislation, which will provide the CIA Director and the U.S. Secretary of State with the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who have endured attacks while serving our nation,” Senate Intel Vice Chairman Rubio said.  “There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government determine who is behind these attacks and that we respond.”

“It is shameful and unacceptable that so many American public servants and their families who are suffering from these mysterious brain injuries have gone without access to the medical benefits they need and deserve. That must change, and today, the Senate took an important step forward to help right that wrong,” said Senator Shaheen. “Securing appropriate support for those injured has been a priority of mine for years, and I’m glad to partner with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on that progress and help provide additional compensation for afflicted U.S. personnel. This bipartisan bill helps create a uniform response to these attacks, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to get to the bottom of these attacks and to support those suffering from critical injuries.”   

The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment.  This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.  

Senators Collins, Warner, Rubio, and Shaheen’s bill was co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Margaret Hassan (D-NH).

Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the disclosure by Microsoft of a Russian hacking operation targeting USAID and other government agencies, think tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organizations :

“We have to step up our cyber defenses, and we must make clear to Russia – and any other adversaries – that they will face consequences for this and any other malicious cyber activity.” 

###

WASHINGTON —In a bipartisan effort to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from probable microwave attacks, a bipartisan group of 15 Senators introduced the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks  (HAVANA) Act today that would authorize additional financial support for injured individuals.  The legislation was co-authored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and James Risch (R-ID).

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and there have been according to the press more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil.  Ailments have included dizziness, tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years later. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director and the Secretary of State additional authority to provide financial support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks. 

“This bipartisan legislation is an important first step in ensuring that our diplomats and intelligence officers who have been injured in the field are afforded access to the healthcare and the benefits that they need, especially for symptoms that are consistent with those of traumatic brain injury. For almost five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on U.S. government personnel stationed in Cuba and in other countries around the world,” said Senator Warner. “The Intelligence Committee has pushed the government to find out what is going on, hold those responsible to account, and ensure these attacks stop.  But we also need to guarantee that the brave men and women – and their families – who represent America overseas and keep our nation safe every day are taken care of if they are injured in the line of duty. As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know the hardships, sacrifices and risks our IC officers, diplomats and other personnel serving overseas endure. The very least we can do is to put financial safeguards in place to ensure that for those afflicted by these attacks can get proper medical attention and treatment.”

“The injuries that many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have endured are significant and life-altering.  To make matters worse, some of the victims did not receive the financial and medical support they should have expected from their government when they first reported their injuries.  This is an outrageous failure on behalf of our government,” said Senator Collins. “I have spoken to CIA Director Burns about these attacks, and I am heartened by the commitments that he and others have made to the Senate Intelligence Committee to care for the victims and to get to the bottom of these attacks.  We need a whole-of-government approach to identify the adversary who is targeting American personnel.  The public servants who work in our embassies and consulates overseas make many personal sacrifices to represent America’s interests abroad.  They deserve our strong support when they are harmed in the line of duty just as we care for soldiers injured on the battlefield.”

“It’s unacceptable that American public servants and their families have suffered alone for years with these mysterious brain injuries, without full transparency or guarantee of treatment. Our personnel deserve better. That’s why I’ve been sounding the alarm to get to the bottom of these attacks and provide critical support to those who’ve fallen victim to these attacks,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to join Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on my efforts and provide more equitable care for those who’ve been injured so we can ensure all those affected – regardless of what agency they served – are properly compensated for injuries they suffered while serving our country. I’ll continue to work across the aisle in Congress to make this issue a top priority and will keep raising this with the administration to form a whole-of-government response to uncover the source of these attacks and take care of those who’ve been targeted.”

“I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation to provide the CIA Director and the Secretary of State the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who have endured these attacks while serving our nation,” Senator Rubio said. “There is no doubt that the victims of the Havana Syndrome, who have suffered brain injuries, must be provided with adequate care and compensation.”

The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director and the Secretary of State to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment.  This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.  

Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President Biden’s executive order on cybersecurity:

“The recent Colonial, SolarWinds, and Hafnium attacks have highlighted what has become increasingly obvious in recent years—that the United States is simply not prepared to fend off state-sponsored or even criminal hackers intent on compromising our systems for profit or espionage. This executive order is a good first step, but executive orders can only go so far. Congress is going to have to step up and do more to address our cyber vulnerabilities, and I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to close those gaps.”

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement regarding the investigation into attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana and elsewhere:

“For nearly five years, we have been aware of reports of mysterious attacks on United States Government personnel in Havana, Cuba and around the world. This pattern of attacking our fellow citizens serving our government appears to be increasing. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to get to the bottom of this. We have already held fact finding hearings on these debilitating attacks, many of which result in medically confirmed cases of Traumatic Brain Injury, and will do more. 

“As the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we welcome CIA Director Burns’ renewed focus on these attacks. Our committee will continue to work with him, and the rest of the Intelligence Community, to better understand the technology behind the weapon responsible for these attacks. We will focus on ensuring we protect our personnel and provide the medical and financial support the victims deserve. Ultimately we will identify those responsible for these attacks on American personnel and will hold them accountable.”

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was joined by Committee members Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in sending a letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), drawing attention to a recent report identifying significant problems within the intelligence arm of DHS and its involvement in responding to protests in Portland, OR in June and July of last year. 

“We write to draw your attention to the ‘Report on DHS Administrative Review into I&A Open Source Collection and Dissemination Activities During Civil Unrest; Portland, Oregon, June through July 2020,’ produced on January 6, 2021, by the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The report raises serious concerns about the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) which require a response from Department leadership,” the Senators wrote. “The report details a series of problems related to the legality of I&A operations, I&A’s relationships with other federal as well as state and local authorities, the allocation of resources and personnel, management and the internal climate at I&A, and accountability.  We request that the Department provide the Congress an explanation of how it will address each of these issues, the extent to which the Department accepts and intends to implement the recommendations included in the report, and any additional reforms the Department may support.  We further request that the Department prepare a version of the report suitable for public release.”

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have previously raised concerns about problems at the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the office’s role in responding to the Portland protests. 

A copy of the letter is available here. The full text appears below.

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, D.C.  20528

Dear Secretary Mayorkas,

We write to draw your attention to the “Report on DHS Administrative Review into I&A Open Source Collection and Dissemination Activities During Civil Unrest; Portland, Oregon, June through July 2020,” produced on January 6, 2021, by the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The report raises serious concerns about the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) which require a response from Department leadership.

The report details a series of problems related to the legality of I&A operations, I&A’s relationships with other federal as well as state and local authorities, the allocation of resources and personnel, management and the internal climate at I&A, and accountability.  We request that the Department provide the Congress an explanation of how it will address each of these issues, the extent to which the Department accepts and intends to implement the recommendations included in the report, and any additional reforms the Department may support.  We further request that the Department prepare a version of the report suitable for public release.

We recognize that the administration has not yet nominated an Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis.  We further recognize that related reviews, in particular that of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, are not completed.  The Department’s response to the report is nonetheless urgent.  The Department’s views are necessary to inform the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as it exercises its responsibilities with regard to the codification of I&A’s responsibilities and the authorization of its budget.  The Committee and the Congress are also confronting the current threat of terrorism and extremism while defending the constitutional rights of Americans, ongoing deliberations that will determine the roles and authorities of the Department and other federal agencies.  

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

 ###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today requested information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following a cyber incident in which hackers remotely breached a Florida water treatment plant and sought to dramatically alter water chemical levels in a move that could have poisoned thousands of residents.  

“The security and integrity of our critical infrastructure is of utmost importance. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states that 80% of the United States receives potable water from approximately 153,000 public drinking water systems, and any type of attack, including a cyber attack, could result in ‘illnesses or casualties and/or a denial of service that would also impact public health and economic vitality,’” wrote Sen. Warner in a letter to the Assistant Director of the FBI and the Acting Assistant Administrator at the EPA. “This incident has implications beyond the 15,000-person town of Oldsmar. While the Oldsmar water treatment facility incident was detected with sufficient time to mitigate serious risks to the citizens of Oldsmar, and appears to have been identified as the result of a diligent employee monitoring this facility’s operations, future compromises of this nature may not be detected in time.”

He continued, “The Federal Government must ensure we are taking all precautions to keep drinking water safe for Americans. Designated as one of the 16 infrastructure sectors critical to national security under the Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), we must protect water facilities from cyber and other compromises.” 

On February 5, a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida was accessed remotely by hackers, who increased sodium hydroxide levels from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million, a dangerous amount that could have sickened town residents, had the attack gone unnoticed by a plant employee.

In his letter, Sen. Warner requested a progress update on the FBI’s investigation into this incident. He also asked for an EPA review into whether the Oldsmar water treatment facility was compliant with the most recent Water and Wastewater Sector-Specific Plan, and whether that plan needs to be updated to confront similar risks. Additionally, Sen. Warner inquired about any plans to share timely threat information related to this incident with water and wastewater facilities, and other critical infrastructure providers.

Sen. Warner, a former technology executive, is the co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, he has fought for increased cybersecurity measures commensurate with Americans’ increased reliance on remote work. Among other measures, Sen. Warner has advocated for increased funding to modernize federal information technology, urged internet networking device vendors to ensure the security of their products, and pressed cybersecurity officials to bolster defenses against cybersecurity attacks. 

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

 

Dear Mr. Gorham and Ms. Fox,

I am writing to request information about reports of a serious security compromise of a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida on February 5, 2021.  The security and integrity of our critical infrastructure is of utmost importance.  The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states that 80% of the United States receives potable water from approximately 153,000 public drinking water systems, and any type of attack, including a cyber attack, could result in “illnesses or casualties and/or a denial of service that would also impact public health and economic vitality.”[i]  Additionally, other critical infrastructure sectors such as healthcare, emergency services, energy, food and agriculture, and transportation systems depend on the cyber resilience of water facilities.[ii]

According to information released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the Oldsmar water treatment facility was accessed remotely by an unauthorized entity, who increased the amount of sodium hydroxide in the potable water supply to a dangerous level.[iii]  Given the consequences of a successful compromise of this kind, and the broader security weaknesses this unsuccessful attempt may illustrate within critical infrastructure sectors reliant on similar industrial control systems, I would request first, to be informed of the progress of the FBI’s investigation of the incident; second, a review by the Environmental Protection Agency into whether the Oldsmar water treatment facility was compliant with the most recent Water and Wastewater Sector-Specific Plan, and whether that plan, most recently updated in 2015, needs to be updated to confront similar risks; and third, to confirm the Federal Government is sharing timely threat information related to this incident with water and wastewater facilities, and other critical infrastructure providers across the United States.

This incident has implications beyond the 15,000-person town of Oldsmar.  While the Oldsmar water treatment facility incident was detected with sufficient time to mitigate serious risks to the citizens of Oldsmar, and appears to have been identified as the result of a diligent employee monitoring this facility’s operations, future compromises of this nature may not be detected in time.  The Federal Government must ensure we are taking all precautions to keep drinking water safe for Americans.  Designated as one of the 16 infrastructure sectors critical to national security under the Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), we must protect water facilities from cyber and other compromises.  

Please coordinate with my office to provide updates on the investigation of the incident, as well as efforts underway to avoid future compromises on water facilities in the United States.

###

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a joint statement after the Biden administration confirmed Anne Neuberger, the National Security Agency's cybersecurity director, will lead the administration’s response to the SolarWinds breach. Yesterday, Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio sent a letter to the Intelligence Community urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of private sector entities.

“The federal government’s response to date to the SolarWinds breach has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, so it is welcome news that the Biden administration has selected Anne Neuberger to lead the response. The Committee looks forward to getting regular briefings from Ms. Neuberger and working with her to ensure we fully confront and mitigate this incident as quickly as possible.”

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Avril Haines, National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Paul Nakasone, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Acting Director Brandon Wales, urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader  in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of other private sector entities.

In the letter to the intelligence community, the Senators wrote, “The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks.  The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed.”

The text of the full letter is here and can be found below.

Dear Director Haines, General Nakasone, Director Wray, and Acting Director Wales:

We are writing to urge you to name and empower a clear leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies, and thousands of other private sector entities.  The federal government’s response so far has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, and we have little confidence that we are on the shortest path to recovery.

The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks.  The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed. 

The handling of this incident is too critical for us to continue operating the way we have been.  Presidential Policy Directive-41 was not meant to impede a joint response to significant cyber incidents and clearly gives the Unified Coordination Group the authority, with mutual agreement and consistent with applicable legal authorities, to realign operational control of respective agency assets to respond to such incidents.  We urge you to reach such an agreement and assign a clear leader to ensure we confront and mitigate this incident fully, and as quickly as possible.

 

Sincerely,

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after a Moscow judge sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 3.5 years in prison:  

“The cruel absurdity of Putin’s government is encapsulated by the sentencing of Alexei Navalny to prison for failing to check in with his parole officer while he was literally lying in a coma after being poisoned by Putin’s FSB. Knowing his life was in danger, Navalny nonetheless courageously returned to his home country and inspired tens of thousands of ordinary Russians to publicly demand an end to government corruption. The Russian authorities must immediately end their violent crackdown and release Alexei Navalny along with the thousands of peaceful protesters who have been detained by the government simply because they embarrassed Vladimir Putin. The United States Congress and the Biden administration can and will hold Russian officials accountable for their abuses.”

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence:

“Given the critical importance of the role of the Director of National Intelligence to our country’s security, it is appropriate that Avril Haines has now become the first member of the new administration to be confirmed by the Senate in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. After being deliberately undermined for four years, the Intelligence Community deserves a strong, Senate-confirmed leader to lead and reinvigorate it. I am confident Ms. Haines will serve capably and honorably in the role and I look forward to working with her.”

Prior to the vote, Sen. Warner spoke on the floor, urging senators to support Ms. Haines’ nomination. Broadcast-quality video and audio of that speech is available for download here 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“In today’s open and classified sessions, Ms. Haines demonstrated professionalism, commitment to the men and women of the Intelligence Community, and a keen grasp of the challenges facing our national security. The Intelligence Community needs a strong, Senate-confirmed leader and Ms. Haines will be that leader. The Committee will work to schedule a vote on her nomination as soon as possible, and I urge the Senate to confirm her without any unnecessary delay.”

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement regarding the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury. Due to a conflict with the confirmation hearing for the Director of National Intelligence-designate in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner was unable to attend the nomination hearing for Yellen earlier today in the Finance Committee.  

“Dr. Yellen is exactly the type of leader we need at the Treasury to see our economy through these challenging times.  Her deep understanding of our economy and financial markets will allow her to hit the ground running as we work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19,” said Sen. Warner. “She should be swiftly confirmed.”

“I look forward to working with Secretary Yellen to advance our shared priorities, including expanding investments into minority and underserved communities, reforming our tax code, preparing American workers to compete in a 21st century economy, and implementing key reforms to our anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership laws, among other urgent challenges facing our fragile economy,” Sen. Warner added.

###

 

Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) requested information from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe regarding how the Intelligence Community is preparing for the inauguration on January 20, 2021.

The full text of the letter is below.

 

Dear Director Ratcliffe:

In light of the recent violence at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, we request that you provide the Committee with a detailed description of how the Intelligence Community (IC) is supporting relevant customers in the Congress, Executive Branch, and state and local law enforcement in preparation for the inauguration on January 20, 2021. 

Specifically:

  • Please update the Committee on all intelligence related to efforts by foreign actors to disrupt the inauguration. Please describe the process by which this reporting will be shared with federal, state, and local stakeholders.

  • What products and briefings do you intend to issue to provide indications and warning of any potential unrest, whether foreign or domestic in origin, before and during the inauguration?

  • To what extent is the IC working with and/or supporting law enforcement agencies in tracking any threats to the inauguration, and what is the IC’s current assessment of such threats?

  • What scenario planning are you conducting in advance of inauguration day?

  • What capabilities do the Intelligence Community plan on deploying during inauguration day? 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

Sincerely, 

###

Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following joint statement after the Committee postponed the nomination hearing for Ms. Avril Haines, the expected nominee to be Director of National Intelligence:

“Despite the unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill, the committee is working in good faith to move this nominee as fast as possible and ensure the committee's members have an opportunity to question the nominee in both open and closed settings. The Director of National Intelligence plays a crucial role in overseeing the 18 agencies that make up our nation’s Intelligence Community, and the committee looks forward to holding a hearing next week with Ms. Haines.”

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Bill Burns as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): 

“For decades, Bill has faithfully served our nation with honor and dignity. As a career diplomat under Democratic and Republican presidents, he has established himself as a smart and tested public servant who is free from political interference. Now more than ever, our intelligence and defense communities deserve leaders who will notpoliticize our national security institutions.”

 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced new sanctions against seven individuals and four entities involved in a Russia-linked foreign influence network:

“Even as our attention turns to the real-world impacts of domestic-led disinformation campaigns, we cannot forget that our foreign adversaries have relied upon many of the same tactics. Moreover, much of the false information spread about President-elect Biden during and since the campaign had its roots in the entities being sanctioned today, as we saw Russian entities seed or amplify dangerous narratives that gained significant traction in far-right media. We must redouble efforts to build public confidence in our democratic process and work to develop reforms that make our information ecosystem more resilient to disinformation and wider exploitation efforts.”

Sen. Warner, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, helped lead the only congressional committee to conduct a successful bipartisan investigation into Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and social media companies Apple, Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Signal, Telegram, and Twitter to immediately preserve content and associated meta-data connected to Wednesday’s insurrectionist attack on the United States Capitol. 

In all eleven letters to the companies’ CEOs, Sen. Warner emphasized how the rioters took the time to document the event “later posting them to their social media accounts or sharing them via text or mobile messaging platforms to celebrate their disdain for our democratic process.”

“The United States Capitol is now a crime scene,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letters to AT&TT-MobileVerizonAppleFacebookGabGoogleParlerSignalTelegram, and Twitter. “The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the events of that day, and trying to piece together what happened and the perpetrators involved. The prospect of litigation on behalf of the victims of the mayhem also is highly likely. Messaging data to and from your subscribers that may have participated in, or assisted, those engaged in this insurrection – and associated subscriber information – are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice.”

 

###

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after Facebook announced an indefinite suspension of President Trump from the platform: 

“While I’m pleased to see social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take long-belated steps to address the President’s sustained misuse of their platforms to sow discord and violence, these isolated actions are both too late and not nearly enough. Disinformation and extremism researchers have for years pointed to broader network-based exploitation of these platforms. As I have continually said, these platforms have served as core organizing infrastructure for violent, far right groups and militia movements for several years now – helping them to recruit, organize, coordinate and in many cases (particularly with respect to YouTube) generate profits from their violent, extremist content.” 

###

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement:

“The Georgia Senate results are good news for Americans tired of Washington dysfunction; a Democratic majority will undoubtedly make it easier for President Biden to govern.

“In the coming Congress, I’ll remain committed – as I always have – to working with anyone from any party who wants to put forth innovative ideas that expand opportunity for American families and help our nation emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before. Virginians can also trust that I will do everything in my power to ensure that that the slim margins we now face are cause for more bipartisan solutions, not the same old Washington gridlock.”

With Democrats in the Senate majority, Sen. Warner is expected to take the gavel as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor this evening just hours after a mob of Trump supporters breached and stormed the U.S. Capitol in an act of insurrection. 

In remarks delivered after Congress resumed its count of electoral college votes, Sen. Warner warned his Senate colleagues about the national security implications of calling into question the validity of one of the most secure elections in the modern history.

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Warner said, “What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections. Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries.”

Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy,” he continued. “You can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries.”

Concluded Sen. Warner, “God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy.”

 

The full text of Sen. Warner’s remarks appears below:

Mr. President, I think like most of us, I'm still pretty reeling from what happened today. 

What I was going to talk about was the work that I'm most proud of since I've been here, with my good friend Richard Burr and all the members of the Intelligence Committee, about a multi-year report we did into foreign interference in our elections. 

Probably our top recommendation of that five-volume bipartisan report was that any official or candidate should use restraint and caution when questioning results of our elections. Because when you do so, you often carry out the goals of our foreign adversaries. 

Use caution, because whether knowingly or unknowingly, and whether that adversary is in Russia or China or Iran, their goals are pretty simple. They want to make it appear to Americans, to folks around the world, to their own people, that there's nothing special about American democracy. 

I was going to try in a feeble way to maybe reach some of the rhetorical heights of Ben Sasse and I knew I couldn't do that. So instead – I know I'm violating rules here, today is the day for violating rules [holds up cell phone image] – this is a photo that appeared today on one of the most prominent German newspapers. 

You don't need to – you can pull up photos from any newspaper or any television feed anywhere across the world. And what is this photo of? It's of thugs. Thugs in the halls of this Capitol. Diminishing everything we say, we believe in, in this democracy. And when you look at those images, you realize those images are priceless for our adversaries. 

God willing tonight, in an overwhelming way, we're going to take a small step in a bipartisan way to start restoring that trust of our people and hopefully billions of people around the world who believe in that notion of American democracy. But remember, these images will still endure. I yield back.

###