What were they thinking?
The Washington Examiner reports that NASA employs 118 Chinese nationals in "remotely-based" information technology jobs that may let them penetrate the space agency's national security database servers.
The Examiner reports that a summary document given to a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting on NASA cybersecurity shows the biggest concentrations of Chinese nationals work at the Goddard Space Flight Center outside of Washington; the Ames Research Center near San Francisco; the Jet Propulsion Lab at California's Institute of Technology and the Langley Research Center in Virginia. The document says the 118 individuals have "varying degrees of access" to NASA research and databases, the Examiner reports.
Well, here's my take on this: Now we know what happens when print newspapers all but disappear. Perhaps if NASA management still subscribed to newspapers, they would have noticed the continual banner headlines about cyber espionage coming out of China. At some point, it might have dawned on them that employing Chinese nationals in the Agency's IT positions would not be a good idea.
Alan Tonelson, a Research Fellow at the U.S. Business & Industry Educational Foundation, had an even more tongue-in-cheek reaction to this news: "In these parlous times, doesn’t the American taxpayer deserve some genuinely outside-the-box thinking?" he writes. "Why stop with China? Think of how many North Korean or Iranian techies would work for NASA and other U.S. agencies for even less!"