Press Releases

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

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an unknown illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, dozens more U.S. diplomats and members of the intelligence community have suffered symptoms that a study by the National Academy of Sciences found are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.

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. 

“Every day, American diplomats and intelligence officers around the world put themselves at risk to keep our nation safe. In return, we have an obligation to provide ample support when these brave men and women are injured in the line of duty,” said Chairman Warner. “As the Senate Intelligence Committee continues to look into the mysterious and debilitating attacks on U.S. personnel abroad, I’m proud to know that these officials will now be able to count on the compensation and care they deserve, thanks to President Biden’s signing of our Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act.”

“As American diplomats and personnel continue to be targets of directed energy attacks by malign actors and rogue states, I’m proud to see my bipartisan initiative become law,” said Vice Chairman Rubio.  “We need to stand in support of our diplomatic corps, and their relatives, as they face long-term health challenges and demand that those who are responsible face justice.”

“I have spoken personally with Havana Syndrome victims who were forced to battle the bureaucracy while dealing with their own health challenges.  These Americans who experienced traumatic brain injuries from likely directed energy attacks while serving our country should have been treated the same way we treat a soldier who suffered a traumatic brain injury on the battlefield,” said Sen. Collins.  “Now that the HAVANA Act has been signed into law, Havana Syndrome victims will finally receive the financial assistance and medical support that they deserve.  As we continue our efforts to support victims, we must also redouble our whole-of-government approach to identify and stop the heartless adversary who is harming U.S. personnel.”

“For far too long, U.S. public servants and their loved ones who’ve suffered from directed energy attacks have been denied the care they need and deserve. That’s unacceptable, and is why I’ve partnered with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to ensure affected Americans have access to long-term, emergency health benefits,” said Sen. Shaheen. “By removing barriers to critical medical attention and paving the way for personnel with brain injuries to recover, the HAVANA Act is an important step forward. I’m very pleased President Biden has signed our bipartisan legislation into law, and I’ll continue to fight to get to the bottom of these attacks and protect our national security.”

The HAVANA Act authorizes the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency leaders to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries.  Both the CIA and State Department will be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment.  This legislation also requires 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. 

Full text of the bill is available here

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the statement below, following the release of an unclassified report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19:

“This report underscores the need for China to stop stonewalling international investigations into a global pandemic that has cost so many lives and livelihoods around the world. It's disheartening that the Chinese Communist Party remains unwilling to cooperate with an investigation of this magnitude, even as the world mourns the deaths of 4.5 million people and counting. At the same time, I would urge Americans around the country to denounce hateful rhetoric and discrimination against our AAPI friends and neighbors, many of whom have suffered racist attacks throughout the period of this crisis.”

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

“I am closely tracking the horrifying situation in Kabul and will remain in touch with intelligence and administration officials as we learn more about today’s attacks. As we await more information regarding the casualties, my thoughts will be with our troops and with the innocent people killed in these brutal acts of terror. We must do everything we can to stabilize the situation outside the airport so that we can resume evacuations of American citizens, SIVs, and the Afghans most in danger as soon as possible. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to U.S. servicemembers who are carrying out the mission on the ground despite the great danger and challenges they are facing.”  

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Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in a bipartisan letter urging the Biden Administration to address the quickly-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan that threatens the lives of tens of thousands of Afghan partners.    

In the letter, the Senators call for the urgent evacuation of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families. They urge the Administration to enforce strategic agency coordination and hold the Hamid Karzai International Airport to ensure the safety of Afghan partners and their families, as well as U.S. citizens. The letter marks the latest congressional response to the danger posed by the Taliban to Afghan allies who aided the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. 

“The Taliban’s rapid ascendancy across Afghanistan and takeover of Kabul should not cause us to break our promise to the Afghans who helped us operate over the past twenty years and are counting on us for assistance. American inaction would ensure they become refugees or prime targets for Taliban retribution,” the Senators wrote.  

“Specifically, we urge continued coordination between the Departments of State and Defense to secure and hold Hamid Karzai International Airport, including to allow for the continuation of military flights and the resumption of commercial and charter flights. We also urge your Administration to assist with the passage of individuals to the airport to safety – both those within Kabul and those outside of the capital – as well as to consider cases where Afghans fleeing quickly may not have been able to collect or gather appropriate documents,” the Senators added. “We were pleased that you immediately signed [our]…legislation to make extensive improvements to the SIV program into law three weeks ago, and now ask that you move just as quickly to ensure it is properly and fully implemented ensuring applicants and their families can get out of harm’s way.” 

Joining Senators Warner, Kaine, Shaheen, and Ernst in signing the letter were Senators Durbin (D-IL), Romney (R-UT), Reed (D-RI), Collins (R-ME), Leahy (D-VT), Graham (R-SC), Peters (D-MI), Rounds (R-SD), Menendez (D-NJ), Lummis (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), Sasse (R-NE), Warnock (D-GA), Cornyn (R-TX), Van Hollen (D-MD), Daines (R-MT), Duckworth (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Gillibrand (D-NY), Marshall (R-KS), Markey (D-MA), Cardin (D-MD), Murphy (D-CT), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Stabenow (D-MI), Warren (D-MA), Manchin (D-WV), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Bennet (D-CO), Hassan (D-NH), Rosen (D-NV), Blumenthal (D-CT), Klobuchar (D-MN), Padilla (D-CA), Murray  (D-WA), King (I-ME), Heinrich (D-NM), Merkley (D-OR), Whitehouse (D-RI), Feinstein (D-CA), Schatz (D-HI), Sanders (I-VT), Hirono (D-HI), Carper (D-DE), Lujan (D-NM), Smith (D-MN), Ossoff (D-GA), Tester (D-MT), Brown (D-OH), Kelly (D-AZ), and Booker (D-NJ).

Senators Warner and Kaine are in close communication with the Administration and U.S. allies on the ground to ensure the safety and quick evacuation of U.S. personnel, Afghan partners, journalists, women leaders, activists, human rights defenders, and others. Their offices are working to help with the evacuation of Americans, as well as SIV-eligible and other at risk Afghans, to get them to safety as quickly as possible.

Earlier this week, Warner and Kaine joined their Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter calling on the Administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders facing unparalleled danger following the Taliban’s violent sweep across Afghanistan and seizure of Kabul.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below

Dear Mr. President,   

We write to urge the immediate and full implementation of recently-passed legislation amending the process and eligibility for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and for the urgent evacuation of SIV applicants whose service to the U.S. mission has put their lives in jeopardy. As you know, this critical program provides safety for the brave Afghans who served alongside United States troops in support of the U.S. missions in Afghanistan. As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, these individuals face increased danger at the hands of the Taliban that has sworn retribution. For this reason, Congress provided additional authorities to improve and expedite the application process while maintaining the program’s security and integrity. We implore your Administration to expeditiously implement these changes and immediately evacuate our Afghan allies to safety.  

The United States led coalition forces in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Our mission safeguarded the American homeland safe from terrorist attacks, eliminated Osama bin Laden, and delivered freedom and education to a generation of Afghan women and children. At every step of the way, our mission was supported by Afghans who fought alongside us for a better future for their country. They risked their safety and the well-being of their families to work with the United States. With the departure of U.S. forces and Taliban rule in place, the safety and security of our Afghan allies who put their lives on the line to help our service members and diplomats must be a top priority.   

For this reason, we urge you to continue the expeditious evacuation of SIV applicants and their families. At your direction, on July 17 the United States launched Operation Allies Refuge in order to evacuate SIV applicants in danger from the Taliban’s advances. We appreciate that this effort has already brought 2,000 Afghans, including primary SIV applicants and their families, to the United States. However many more remain. The Taliban’s rapid ascendancy across Afghanistan and takeover of Kabul should not cause us to break our promise to the Afghans who helped us operate over the past twenty years and are counting on us for assistance. American inaction would ensure they become refugees or prime targets for Taliban retribution.   

Specifically, we urge continued coordination between the Departments of State and Defense to secure and hold Hamid Karzai International Airport, including to allow for the continuation of military flights and the resumption of commercial and charter flights. We also urge your Administration to assist with the passage of individuals to the airport to safety – both those within Kabul and those outside of the capital – as well as to consider cases where Afghans fleeing quickly may not have been able to collect or gather appropriate documents.?    

Additionally, the support and protection of our Afghan allies is why Congress recently passed, with broad bipartisan support, legislation to make extensive changes to the SIV program. We did so with the goal of improving the process for applicants while maintaining our national security. We were pleased that you immediately signed this legislation to make extensive improvements to the SIV program into law three weeks ago, and now ask that you move just as quickly to ensure it is properly and fully implemented ensuring applicants and their families can get out of harm’s way.  

To this end, we respectfully request that your Administration immediately implement all aspects of the statute as Congress intended, including:   

1.       Updating internal and external guidance to reflect the change in the employment requirement for eligibility from two years of service to one. This adjustment of eligibility must be applied to all pending applications, including those on appeal which have been denied on the basis of insufficient duration of service but whose appeal is still eligible to be re-adjudicated. To ensure that this change is fully implemented, we ask that all staff who are charged with processing applications receive training to apply the 12 month standard to all pending applications and appeals.   

2.       The issuance of special immigrant visas to all applicants and their qualified family members that have passed all steps of the visa process and only await a medical exam. The adjustment of status conferred by a SIV is preferable both to the processing of visas and to the applicants than paroling evacuated individuals into the country, thus requiring additional filings to confer the statuses included in a SIV.   

3.       Full and immediate repeal of the “sensitive and trusted” requirement for individuals employed by or on behalf of the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan, as required by the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, as well as those employed by or on behalf of the United States government. Congress repealed the “sensitive and trusted” requirement from U.S. government employment in December 2019, but as of this date we are not satisfied that it has been fully implemented. We expect the Department of State to implement the removal of “sensitive and trusted” activities from NATO-led forces support immediately, re-open the cases of any U.S. government employees who have been denied Chief of Mission approval for lack of “sensitive and trusted employment” since December 2019, and expeditiously update internal and external guidance to reflect this change.  

4.       The process for appeals of denials. As newly amended, the law now allows that, if an appeal is denied for a reason not listed in the initial denial, the applicant must be allowed an opportunity to address the new denial ground. This allowance is due to the high success rate for appeals when the cause of denial is known to the applicant. As with other changes to the law, we request that your Administration ensure that this change applies to all applications within the appeal period. This spares applicants the time and effort of re-applying and conserves the precious processing resources of the U.S. government.  

5.       Prioritization of applications based on date of the initial application. We once again clarify that the “prioritization” scheme that was introduced in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 is no longer law. In addition, all application processing must comply with the Congressionally-mandated nine month processing requirement.   

6.       Full transparency and adequate guidance for applicants. This includes, but is not limited to, updating all public websites maintained by the relevant U.S. government authorities to provide applicants with complete information about eligibility and process for applying. Most applicants do not have access to legal counsel for the sake of understanding the current process. All changes in program eligibility must be readily accessible and all changes that impact current applicants must be communicated directly to applicants.   

We appreciate the efforts that you and your Administration have made on behalf of Afghans who worked in support of the U.S. in Afghanistan. We must now concentrate all U.S. efforts on supporting and protecting our Afghan allies. Anything short of full implementation results in grave security implications. You have the strong support of both chambers of Congress to ensure that no additional Afghan lives are needlessly lost.   

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

“The images from Afghanistan that we’ve seen in recent days are devastating. 

“We went into Afghanistan to defeat al-Qa‘ida and eliminate their safe harbor after September 11, 2001. Two decades later, the price of our longest war has been tremendous. We’re on track to spend $2 trillion on a conflict that has cost 6,000 U.S. servicemembers and contractors their lives and returned tens of thousands of our fellow Americans from the battlefield with wounds both visible and invisible. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those brave men and women who have served in Afghanistan, many of whom are experiencing renewed pain and grief today as they grapple with traumatic images out of Kabul, thoughts of their fellow servicemembers, and fears for those alongside whom they fought. 

“At this moment, our top priorities must be the safety of American diplomats and other citizens in Afghanistan, and the extraction of Afghans who are at greatest risk, including those who bravely fought alongside our forces since 2001. The world must know that the United States stands by her friends in times of need, and this is one of those times. We must do everything we can to secure the airport in Kabul, restore evacuation flights, and allow our trusted Afghan partners to find safe haven in the United States or elsewhere before it is too late. We also cannot lose sight of the reason we were there in the first place and must continue to stay focused on potential threats to the United States posed by terror groups like the Haqqani network, al-Qa‘ida, and ISIS.

“Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan. That is exactly what has happened as the Afghan National Security Forces proved unable or unwilling to defend against Taliban advances in Kabul and across the country. As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”  

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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.”

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WASHINGTON – As many Virginians adapt to life with a new pet in the wake of the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is requesting more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding a recent decision to temporarily suspend the importation of dogs from countries with heightened risk for rabies. In a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the senator commended the CDC for working to keep animals and people safe, while also encouraging the agency to develop eventual plans to lift the ban, which has placed a strain on military and U.S. diplomatic families who own dogs.

“I understand this decision was prompted by several factors relevant to the pandemic, including a recent lack of facilities for quarantining dogs safely and a disruption to vaccination programs for animals and people. I applaud the agency for acting quickly to ensure that the canine rabies virus variant—which has been eradicated in the U.S. since 2007—is not reintroduced,” wrote Sen. Warner. “While I believe the decision was necessary, as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to decline with vaccination efforts underway, I also encourage the agency to develop plans to eventually lift the importation ban while still ensuring the health and safety of dogs in the aftermath of the public health emergency.”

“The temporary ban has been a cause for concern for the many U.S. diplomatic and military families who live in Virginia. While I know these families can be considered for a waiver, your agency’s website says these approvals are advanced ‘on an extremely limited basis,’ and this onerous application process has left pet owners scrambling to find a solution,” he continued. “I respectfully ask that the CDC work with Congress to find long-term solutions to this problem, specifically focusing on the following areas: the pandemic’s disruption on vaccination programs for animals and people, the lack of safe animal quarantine facilities in the U.S., the surge in breeders cutting corners due to the increasing demand for pets brought on by the pandemic, and the unique impact the ban has had on diplomatic and military families.” 

On July 14, the CDC temporarily suspended the importation of dogs from 113 countries classified as high risk for dog rabies. This was due, in part, to a significant 2020 increase in the number of imported dogs that were denied entry into the United States from high-risk countries. Due to reduced flight schedules, dogs denied entry are facing longer wait times to be returned to their country of departure, leading to illness and even death in some cases.

In the letter, Sen. Warner also asked the CDC to proactively engage in conversations and listening sessions with stakeholders that will be impacted by this ban, including rescue groups, representatives of U.S. diplomatic and military families, and other interested parties.  

Sen. Warner, a dog owner, has been an advocate for dogs in Virginia and throughout the country. In 2019, he wrote to the Department of State, raising alarm about reports that the Department sent highly-trained bomb-sniffing dogs to foreign partner nations without proper follow-up, resulting in the death of at least ten dogs from largely preventable illnesses.

A copy of the letter is available here and below. 

 

Dear Director Walensky: 

I write today regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recent decision to suspend the import of dogs from high-risk countries for canine rabies and inquire about the agency’s future plans related to this suspension.  

I greatly respect the CDC’s acute attention toward keeping both animals and people safe in its decision to limit the importation of dogs as the deadly COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the United States. I also appreciate the temporary nature of the suspension, and I hope to work with the CDC to limit the threat of rabies spreading in the U.S. while still protecting the rights of responsible pet owners.

I have, however, heard from many of my constituents with questions and concerns about the CDC’s decision to suspend dogs from 113 countries with heightened risk for rabies, which went into effect on July 14, 2021. I understand this decision was prompted by several factors relevant to the pandemic, including a recent lack of facilities for quarantining dogs safely and a disruption to vaccination programs for animals and people. I applaud the agency for acting quickly to ensure that the canine rabies virus variant—which has been eradicated in the U.S. since 2007—is not reintroduced.

While I believe the decision was necessary, as reported cases of COVID-19 continue to decline with vaccination efforts underway, I also encourage the agency to develop plans to eventually lift the importation ban while still ensuring the health and safety of dogs in the aftermath of the public health emergency. The temporary ban has been a cause for concern for the many U.S. diplomatic and military families who live in Virginia. While I know these families can be considered for a waiver, your agency’s website says these approvals are advanced “on an extremely limited basis,” and this onerous application process has left pet owners scrambling to find a solution.

I respectfully ask that the CDC work with Congress to find long-term solutions to this problem, specifically focusing on the following areas: the pandemic’s disruption on vaccination programs for animals and people, the lack of safe animal quarantine facilities in the U.S., the surge in breeders cutting corners due to the increasing demand for pets brought on by the pandemic, and the unique impact the ban has had on diplomatic and military families. I would also encourage that, in finding long-term solutions to this problem, the CDC proactively engages in conversations with stakeholders that will be impacted by this ban, including rescue groups, representatives of U.S. diplomatic and military families, and other interested parties.  In this vein we would recommend that the agency holds listening sessions with stakeholders impacted by the ban to better understand the needs of these communities and to ensure that any long-term solutions best serve the needs of both the CDC and the impacted communities.  

For years, the U.S. had strict quarantine and rabies vaccination procedures in place that proved highly effective in keeping animals in the U.S. safe from rabies. As we continue to adapt our ways of life in the aftermath of the pandemic, I look forward to your partnership in tackling these issues.

I appreciate your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to working together to ensure the health and safety of Americans and their pets.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after the U.S., European Union, and NATO allies and partners publicly attributed the Microsoft hack to Chinese state-sponsored actors: 

“Today’s news makes clear: state-sponsored cyberattacks that threaten our national security and economic stability will be traced and found. Cyberattacks aren’t a uniquely American problem; our allies are also grappling with a barrage of cyberattacks coming from our foreign adversaries. It’s why I have long called for building international cyber norms to confront our shared cyber vulnerabilities and why I’m pleased to see joint recognition from our NATO and EU allies about this threat. I applaud the Biden administration for publicly exposing the actions of these Chinese state-sponsored actors, pursuing diplomatic cooperation on these threats and for taking additional steps to bolster our cyber defenses. As we take these first steps in an international effort to confront these challenges, there’s still more work to do to address our cyber vulnerabilities.” 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after the Biden administration announced plans to relocate thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators with special immigrant visas (SIV) to U.S. Army base Fort Lee in Petersburg, Va.:

“Virginia has a long history of standing up for our military, and those who have risked their lives for our country. For two decades, thousands of Afghans have put their own lives and safety in danger in order to work with U.S. and allied personnel to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland. I applaud the President and his administration for acting to help bring these individuals to safety, and encourage further swift action to help the thousands of other Afghans and their family members who remain at risk because of their support for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.” 

Last week, Sen. Warner sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to act swiftly in ensuring the safety of Afghans who have worked closely with U.S. intelligence in the country as American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

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WASHINGTON — 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 Committee, today sent a letter to President Biden, asking the administration to ensure the safety of Afghans who have worked closely with U.S. intelligence in the country.  

“For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups. Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland,” the Senators wrote. “Given the increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s direct targeting of Afghan partners to the United States, we ask that you pursue a set of options to keep these Afghans safe, including approving Special Immigrant Visas, evacuations to a third country, and/or priority admission under the U.S. Refugee Admissions program.”

“Currently the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program offers one avenue for our Afghan allies, but its timeline – a years-long process with thousands in the pipeline – does not align with the pace of withdrawal and the rapid deterioration in security. While we urge you to expedite this program and stand ready to provide additional resources for a faster processing timeline, we also ask that you consider the other evacuation options listed above,” the Senators added. “Further, we ask that you consider whether there is sufficient capacity at U.S. facilities to process applications from those Afghan personnel who have made our efforts possible over the last two decades, or whether there is – given the rapid pace of withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan – sufficient capacity to evacuate our Afghan partners quickly as needs arise.” 

Concluded the Senators, “Abandoning these individuals, who have provided essential support to our intelligence community in Afghanistan, would send a damaging message to our allies and potential partners about the United States’ reliability and trustworthiness. It would also be a stain on our national conscience.”

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

                                                            

Dear President Biden:

As your administration conducts its withdrawal of military personnel from Afghanistan, we ask that you ensure the safety and security of Afghans who have worked closely with our intelligence agencies and partners.   

For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and other terrorist groups.  Their efforts contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the U.S. homeland.    

Given the increasingly precarious security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s direct targeting of Afghan partners to the United States, we ask that you pursue a set of options to keep these Afghans safe, including approving Special Immigrant Visas, evacuations to a third country, and/or priority admission under the U.S. Refugee Admissions program.  

Currently the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program offers one avenue for our Afghan allies, but its timeline – a years-long process with thousands in the pipeline – does not align with the pace of withdrawal and the rapid deterioration in security. While we urge you to expedite this program and stand ready to provide additional resources for a faster processing timeline, we also ask that you consider the other evacuation options listed above.  

Further, we ask that you consider whether there is sufficient capacity at U.S. facilities to process applications from those Afghan personnel who have made our efforts possible over the last two decades, or whether there is – given the rapid pace of withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan – sufficient capacity to evacuate our Afghan partners quickly as needs arise.

Abandoning these individuals, who have provided essential support to our intelligence community in Afghanistan, would send a damaging message to our allies and potential partners about the United States’ reliability and trustworthiness. It would also be a stain on our national conscience.

We stand ready to support your effort to ensure these Afghan partners are protected. 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Ahead of the ninth anniversary of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá’s suspicious death, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), along with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) urged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to advance its efforts on this case without further delay.  In 2013, Durbin sent a letter to previous Commission Executive Secretary Emilio Icaza originally urging the Commission investigate Payá’s suspicious death.  Subsequent letters urging continued attention were sent in 2014 and 2016.       

“We hope the Commission’s unique role in such matters will help advance such an accounting and continue to stand ready to assist with this important matter,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Tania Reneaum Panszi, newly appointed Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

In 2002, Payá started the Varela Project that sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a peaceful petition drive and referendum process as allowed for in the Cuban constitution.  Not only did the Cuban government reject the historic effort and brazenly change the constitutional provision allowing such public avenue for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement.   

In July 2012, this persecution culminated in his car being rammed from behind by a tailing government vehicle, resulting in the death of Payá and fellow passenger and youth activist Harold Cepero.  The Cuban government has yet to provide a credible explanation, accounting, or justice for this tragic incident.  

Full text of the letter is available here and below: 

Dear Secretary Panszi:

Congratulations on your recent appointment to lead the Commission – a timely selection amid troubling democratic and human rights backsliding in Latin America.  In 2013, several of us sent the included letter to previous Commission Executive Secretary Emilio Icaza urging the Commission investigate the suspicious death of Cuban political reformer Oswaldo Payá.  With the ninth anniversary of this troubling event soon approaching and a refusal of the Cuban government to allow or provide for a credible investigation into the matter, we once again urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to advance its efforts on this case without further delay.

As you likely recall, in 2002 Payá started the Varela Project that sought greater political freedom in Cuba through a peaceful petition drive and referendum process as allowed for in the Cuban constitution.  Not only did the Cuban government reject the historic effort and brazenly change the constitutional provision allowing such public avenue for change, but also began a decade of shameful harassment of Payá and his movement.   

In July 2012, this persecution culminated in his car being rammed from behind by a tailing government vehicle, resulting in the death of Payá and fellow passenger and youth activist Harold Cepero.  The Cuban government has yet to provide a credible explanation, accounting, or justice for this tragic incident.  In fact, shortly after his death the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring Payá’s work which also called on the “Government of Cuba to allow an impartial, third-party investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.”

We hope the Commission’s unique role in such matters will help advance such an accounting and continue to stand ready to assist with this important matter.   

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner, Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging him to reopen Howard Bailey’s immigration proceedings and grant him humanitarian parole. Bailey is a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in exile in Jamaica after being deported in 2012 for a conviction that has since been pardoned.

“The Biden administration has committed to honoring family unity and redressing racial injustices where possible. Returning Mr. Bailey to the U.S., in light of his overwhelming positive equities and the injustice of his deportation, honors these priorities and is a small step toward restoring humanity to the U.S. immigration system,” wrote the Senators. “We urge you to join his motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant his application for humanitarian parole.”

Last week, Bailey was invited to testify at an Immigration Subcommittee hearing to examine how we can better honor the promises made to our brave military members, veterans, and their families in our immigration policy. At the conclusion of the hearing Padilla stated, “Mr. Bailey fought for our country and I am happy to fight for him.” Padilla also raised this issue directly to Robert Silvers, the Nominee for DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans during a Homeland Security Committee hearing. 

Howard Bailey moved to the U.S. when he was around 17-years-old after obtaining lawful permanent residence status through his U.S. citizen mother. He joined the U.S. Navy after high school and served for nearly four years, including two tours in Operation Desert Storm. He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and honorably discharged. After Mr. Bailey’s service to the U.S. Navy, he devoted himself to his wife and two U.S. citizen children, purchased a home, and started two small businesses including a thriving trucking company employing seven people. 

The full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

 

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

We write to request that the Department of Homeland Security join U.S. veteran Howard Bailey’s motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant him humanitarian parole so that he can return to the United States.

Mr. Bailey joined the U.S. Navy after high school. During his subsequent four years of service, he served on a critical supply ship often in danger zones as a part of Operation Desert Storm and Project Comfort. After he left the Navy, he started a trucking business, purchased his home with a V.A. loan, and built a stable life for his family. He was living the American Dream in every sense of the phrase. Mark Warner

Soon after his honorable discharge, Mr. Bailey was arrested after a package of marijuana was mailed to his home for a friend. Despite not knowing the contents of the package, he pled guilty to a marijuana charge based on counsel from his attorney, who also failed to advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea. Fifteen years later, when Mr. Bailey applied for citizenship, he disclosed that he had a marijuana conviction from 1995. ICE learned of his conviction only when Mr. Bailey himself brought it to the agency’s attention as he applied for U.S. citizenship. ICE then initiated deportation proceedings against him on the basis of this sole marijuana conviction—arresting him on his front lawn with his daughter, son, and wife as witnesses.

In the years after his deportation to Jamaica, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such convictions no longer render people like Mr. Bailey deportable or make them ineligible for discretionary relief from deportation. More recently, in 2017, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe issued a pardon for Mr. Bailey’s marijuana conviction in light of his service to the U.S. Navy and the increasing decriminalization of marijuana nationwide. Today, the conviction that led to his deportation is no longer a part of his record, and the law makes clear that he is eligible for relief from deportation.

On May 27, 2021, a memorandum was issued by DHS headquarters to ICE OPLA attorneys explicitly encouraging DHS to join motions to reopen cases like Mr. Bailey’s where “an individual is eligible for relief under the law and merits relief as a matter of discretion.” The memo lists factors that should be taken into account in joining a motion and that weigh in favor of his case. These include his prior military service, his prior lawful permanent residence status, decades of residency in the U.S. with significant family ties, the length of time since his conviction (26 years) and the compelling humanitarian circumstances in his case such as the severe mental health challenges suffered by his daughter.

As the Secretary of Homeland Security, you have the authority under current law to grant humanitarian parole for cases like Mr. Bailey’s where urgent humanitarian considerations and significant public benefit apply. In addition to the public benefit of bringing home a U.S. veteran who has proudly served his country, paroling Mr. Bailey into the United States is also an appropriate next step to address the profoundly devastating impact of his deportation on his two U.S. citizen children. His daughter, only 11-years-old at the time ICE officers took her father away, continues to face significant mental health challenges and has been unable to attend college, a dream both her and her father shared for her. His son—traumatized by the loss of his father and the subsequent economic challenges including suffering from hunger—has had trouble with the criminal legal system.

The Biden administration has committed to honoring family unity and redressing racial injustices where possible. Returning Mr. Bailey to the U.S., in light of his overwhelming positive equities and the injustice of his deportation, honors these priorities and is a small step toward restoring humanity to the U.S. immigration system. We urge you to join his motion to reopen his immigration proceedings and grant his application for humanitarian parole.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement upon the release of a congressionally-mandated declassified report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP):

“I was first briefed on these unidentified aerial phenomena nearly three years ago. Since then, the frequency of these incidents only appears to be increasing. The United States must be able to understand and mitigate threats to our pilots, whether they’re from drones or weather balloons or adversary intelligence capabilities. Today’s rather inconclusive report only marks the beginning of efforts to understand and illuminate what is causing these risks to aviation in many areas around the country and the world.”

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WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and a bipartisan group of 37 senators in calling for $500 million to fully fund U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs in the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022. Israel’s missile defense system is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow 2 and now Arrow 3. In addition to contributing to ballistic missile defense, the funding will support crucial work on research, development and test activities to counter hostile unmanned aerial systems.  

The bipartisan group of senators wrote, “the U.S.-Israeli cooperation has resulted in a system that can, and has, countered numerous missile threats from state and non-state actors from adversaries in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. This system provides Israel with the ability to protect lives at home and on the battlefield, keeping its citizens and soldiers out of harm’s way.”

In addition to Senators Warner, Gillibrand, and Rounds, the letter was signed by Senators Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cramer (R-ND), Daines (R-MT), Duckworth (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Fischer (R-NE), Hassan (D-NH), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Lankford (R-OK), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Rosen (D-NV), Rubio (R-FL), Schatz (D-HI), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Thune (R-SD), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warnock (D-GA), Wyden (D-OR) and Young (R-IN).

The text of the letter appears below:

 

Dear Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Shelby: 

Thank you for this committee’s strong support of U.S.-Israel collaborative defense programs, including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow as well as our continued cooperative work on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Defense Appropriations bill, we write seeking $500 million for continued support for these in order to meet the United States’ and Israel's national security needs.

Joint U.S.-Israel missile defense collaboration on Israel’s multilayer missile defense system has been foundational to the defense of Israel since the 1980s. Congress has consistently supported this project. Israel’s missile defense system is made up of four operational layers: Iron Dome (short-range), David’s Sling (medium-range), Arrow 2 (longer range), and now Arrow 3 (very long range). The U.S.-Israeli cooperation has resulted in a system that can, and has, countered numerous missile threats from state and non-state actors from adversaries in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. This system provides Israel with the ability to protect lives at home and on the battlefield, keeping its citizens and soldiers out of harm’s way.

This cooperative program has also created an important flow of data and invaluable insight to support vital U.S. missile defense technology while safeguarding our strategic ally Israel and our service members in the region. This program synergizes with our ongoing operations in the area increasing interoperability between U.S. and Israeli systems and forces. Moreover, the program supports critical elements of the industrial base and important jobs here in the United States through co-development and co-production agreements. 

Another area of critical importance to both the United States and Israel, is in the field of UAS, and perhaps just as importantly, counter-UAS. In February 2020, the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit announced it had selected Israeli firm D-Fend Solutions to field a counter-drone system for the FBI and U.S. military. This technology was co-developed with the U.S. Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office. CTTSO has played a crucial role in U.S.-Israel cooperation and innovation.  

For FY 2022, in addition to ballistic missile defense, $500 million will continue critical work on research, development and test activities to counter hostile unmanned aerial systems. This funding will further development of a range of systems designed to handle the imminent threats American and Israeli forces face. 

Together, these programs confront the compelling challenges facing both Israel and the United States and form a strong foundation of the enduring friendship of our nations. We look forward to working with you on these important programs. 

Sincerely,

###

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 protecting sensitive data from foreign adversaries:

“This executive order by the Biden administration adopts a risk-based, transparent, and comprehensive approach to evaluating the security and privacy risks of foreign technology products, a clear contrast to the previous administration’s uncoordinated approach on this issue. I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues on ways in which we can codify these approaches to better ensure long-term consistency and predictability in our national policies in this area.”

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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.” 

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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.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and a group of 27 Senators in calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories to prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence.

Sens. Warner and Ossoff is joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire,” the 28 Senators said in a joint statement.

# # #

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, requesting that the Committee favorably report the Air America Act of 2021 (S. 407) to the full Senate as soon as possible. Senators Warner and Rubio reintroduced the legislation on February 24, 2021.

Air America, a government-owned corporation, employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, until 1976. During its existence, approximately 286 Air Americans were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. In 1975, the last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps. This legislation would ensure that these individuals receive the benefits they are owed under the Civil Service Retirement System.

“The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue,” wrote the Senators. “It is time for Congress to act.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman: 

We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs consider and report S. 407, the Air America Act of 2021, to the full Senate as soon as possible. 

The bill, which was first introduced last Congress, would ensure the brave employees of Air America receive the retirement benefits they have earned. As you may be aware, Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War and operated under the direct policy control of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue. Legislation to provide benefits to Air America employees was first introduced by then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2005. The bill currently has 29 bipartisan cosponsors, including five members of your committee from both sides of the aisle. Over the last 16 years, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that Congressional action is required. It is time for Congress to act. 

For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to consider and report to the full Senate this important bill as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

###

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.”

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WASHINGTON– Today, Virginia U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged President Joe Biden to fully consider how the Trump Administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions and the country’s ability to maintain superiority in space 

On January 13, 2021, the Administration announced that Huntsville, Alabama would be the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command. Following this announcement, reports surfaced that President Donald Trump politicized the process, choosing to relocate U.S. Space Command from its provisional headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

In a letter to President Biden, Bennet and Warner, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cite the collaboration and interoperability between the IC and Department of Defense, and urged the administration to review the process by which this decision was made and to ensure intelligence community missions and capabilities are fully considered.

“The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC),” wrote the senators. “It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.”

The senators also noted the importance of spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to U.S. space capabilities. Colorado is already home to many specialized defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors. The cost of relocating personnel, as well as the high costs for constructing a new Space Command headquarters, should be considerations for permanently keeping it in Colorado Springs. 

“Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape,” the Senators continued. “According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.” 

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.  

Dear President Biden:

We write concerning the Trump administration’s decision to move United States Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama. As members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we are concerned this decision did not take into account how such a move may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions. We therefore request you review the process by which this decision was made, and to ensure IC equities are fully considered.

The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC). It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.

Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape. We have consistently made this a priority in recent years, with careful oversight of dollars spent and an eye toward the allocation of scarce resources among national security priorities. According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.

We therefore ask you to review the parameters and method by which this decision was evaluated, to ensure we are appropriately valuing existing collaboration and interdependencies between the IC and DoD space communities in Colorado, taking advantage of the current co-location of these communities and pools of expertise, and spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to our overhead space capabilities.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) are urging President Joe Biden to resume the process of selecting a new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that meets the stringent security and logistical needs for our nation’s premier law enforcement agency. In a letter to the president Friday, the lawmakers press for the General Services Administration and FBI to pick up where they left off before the Trump administration upended the national security project. In 2014, after an exhaustive process, GSA narrowed down the list of potential locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, Md., and one site in Springfield, Va. 

“For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track,” the Senators wrote.

“We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible,” they added. 

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a resolution which provided the GSA with official guidance on the framework for the project. Drafted to reflect the FBI’s needs and priorities, the Senate resolution outlined requirements for proximity to the Metro System and Washington Beltway, minimum acreage for the site, and a financing strategy which directed GSA to enter into a private sector lease with a private firm to build a 2.1 million square foot, secure facility on federally owned land that would be leased to the FBI and ownership of which would revert to the Federal government at the end of the lease at no additional cost. 

The full letter follows and can be found at this link

Dear President Biden:

We write today to request that you provide clear direction to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Justice to move forward expeditiously on the process of constructing a new consolidated headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track.

Since 2011, Congress has repeatedly called for action to address the FBI’s outdated and inadequate facilities at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, through the approval of GSA resolutions and the inclusion of funding in various appropriations bills. After the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a GSA resolution that set forth guidelines for the site selection process in 2011, GSA issued its Phase I Request for Proposals (RFP) and announced eligible sites for the new headquarters in 2014. In 2015, GSA identified a short list of offerors to proceed to Phase II of the RFP, and the Office of Management and Budget announced that the FBI would reduce its footprint in the Washington, DC region, consolidating both the Hoover Building and multiple leased buildings into one location, and narrowed the list to three sites. In January 2016, GSA issued the Phase II RFP to these qualified offerors. 

The Trump Administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing, and resources devoted to the project. Inquiries by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate into the White House’s role in canceling the project were met with obfuscation by agency officials. In a last-ditch effort to ensure the FBI remained on Pennsylvania Avenue, the former President advocated for funding for renovating the existing FBI headquarters in a COVID-19 relief package, which Congress rejected.

We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible. Congress has appropriated close to a billion dollars for this endeavor, between direct appropriations and transfer authorities, available until expended, and, according to the enacted FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill, required GSA to submit a plan to the committees of jurisdiction consistent with a typical prospectus request by March 27, 2021.  As of this date, a plan has not been submitted and although GSA continues to coordinate with FBI, it is unclear when the required report will be submitted to Congress.

The FBI’s current headquarters facility – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years. The building has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions.

Further delay on a new FBI headquarters creates added risks, costs, and missed opportunities. Despite the political obstacles of recent years, we hope you will consider our request and provide the direction needed for this crucial project to move forward expeditiously.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden requesting that he fund the initiatives to restore semiconductor manufacturing to American soil from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act that were signed into law as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. 

They wrote, “We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. 

“We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security.”

He was joined on the letter by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

The full text of the letter is here and below.

Dear President Biden,

We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (referred to as the ‘CHIPS provisions’). We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security. 

While signing your Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains on February 24, 2021, we were pleased to hear your comments: “bipartisan work has already been done…We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable. I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate.” We agree that the United States must build on the bipartisan Congressional efforts to authorize the CHIPS provisions and now swiftly move to fund these programs so they can be implemented and begin to address the current supply-chain vulnerabilities that threaten our national and economic security and ensure our nation’s continued global leadership in this critical technology. We are especially encouraged by the opportunity to do emergency mandatory funding for implementation of CHIPS as part of a competitiveness package the Senate is currently compiling, and would welcome your support in that effort.

The United States cannot wait to provide these resources over the years ahead. The halted production lines for consumer technology, auto manufacturers, truckers, and other critical industries due to a semiconductor shortage further highlights the pressing need to act quickly and fund the enacted bipartisan provisions. 

In your Build Back Better initiative, you recognized the value of restoring critical supply chains to U.S. soil to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs. Full funding and implementation of CHIPS would reinvigorate our economy by creating high-paying jobs, developing talent pipelines for American workers, and increasing technological innovation. The CHIPS provisions authorize funding for manufacturing, R&D and job-training programs, with a focus on creating pathways for Americans to acquire the skills necessary for these jobs, including expanding employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers. Ensuring these provisions are fully funded would support thousands of American jobs and create a ripple effect throughout the economy, benefiting countless industries, communities and working families.

In addition to enabling sustainable economic growth today, funding the CHIPS provisions is a top national security priority. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has aggressive plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain, pouring over $150 billion in semiconductor manufacturing subsidies and investing $1.4 trillion in their efforts to become the dominate global technological power. Even full funding of the originally filed CHIPS provisions pales in comparison to the investments being made by the CCP, which speaks to why consideration of an even higher level of funding is worthwhile.

The United States must also work with our allies and strategic partners to out-scale the CCP in manufacturing capabilities for advanced semiconductors. If we lose these highly-skilled jobs and know-how to China, the United States will never recapture them. Further, we risk dependence on a strategic competitor for the advanced semiconductors that power our economy, military, and critical infrastructure.

As you develop your FY 2022 budget request, we encourage you to include some initial investments to support semiconductor R&D and manufacturing at agencies like Commerce, DOD, DOE, and NSF as intended by CHIPS. 

Finally, should you explore executive actions to address this urgent semiconductor matter, we encourage you to continue pursuing a technology neutral approach.

We are committed to meeting the national imperative of securing our critical supply chains and look forward to working with you and your Administration to achieve this vital objective.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Biden administration announced several steps to respond to Russian aggression, including interference in the 2020 election, the hack impacting thousands of SolarWinds customers, bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, and the illegal annexation of Crimea:

“I am glad to see the Biden administration formally attributing the SolarWinds hack to Russian intelligence services and taking steps to sanction some of the individuals and entities involved. The scale and scope of this hack are beyond any that we’ve seen before, and should make clear that we will hold Russia and other adversaries accountable for committing this kind of malicious cyber activity against American targets. Across both the public and private sector, we have a lot of work to do to deter our adversaries from conducting these types of damaging intrusions, and to guard against future interference in our elections. But this is a good first step in making clear that these sorts of actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences.”

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WASHINGTON – Today Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of Senators in urging President Joe Biden to request at least $3 billion as part of his budget request to Congress for the adoption of 5G alternatives to Chinese-made equipment. Specifically, the Senators urged Biden to request at least $1.5 billion each for two funds established by Congress to encourage the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment, which would allow additional vendors to enter the 5G market and compete with manufacturers like Huawei, which is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.

“Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies. For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns. For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs,” the Senators wrote in a letter. “As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services. This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America. Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.”

Today’s letter was signed by bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee: Chairman Warner, Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full text of the letter appears below, and a copy is available here

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.   

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare your budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, we ask that you provide at least $1.5 billion each for both the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund and the Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund.  These Funds provide critical foundations for  robust, secure, and efficient fifth-generation (5G) networks, and will be integral to the ability of the United States and its allies to adopt Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment at a scale necessary to compete with the equipment vendors of our strategic rivals, including China.

These Funds, established in Section 9202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, are consistent with your Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which calls for investments to retain our scientific and technological edge, build secure 21st century digital infrastructure (including secure 5G networks), and partner with democratic friends and allies.  Investments in these Funds will also enable the development and deployment of an Open RAN approach to network standardization for nationwide 5G (and successor) wireless capabilities.

Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies.  For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns.  For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs. 

As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services.  This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America.  Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.

We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner on this critical national priority. 

Cc:

Mr. Ronald A. Klain, White House Chief of Staff

Mr. Jacob J. Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Mr. Robert Fairweather, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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