Biden Administration Buying Chinese-Made Drones ‘Harmful to National Security:’ Former Intel Director

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President Joe Biden’s administration buying drones from a Chinese company known as DJI is “harmful to our national security,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe says.

Records made public last month showed the Secret Service in July bought drones from DJI, or Da Jiang Innovations. That buy came just a few days after the FBI purchased drones from the Chinese company.

About a month before the purchases, the Biden administration’s End-User Review Committee revised (pdf) the designation for DJI, excluding some of its technology from the department’s entity list.

The list “identifies entities for which there is reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts, that the entities have been involved, are involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

The Department of Defense said on July 23 that DJI systems “pose potential threats to national security.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a 2017 bulletin (pdf) that it was moderately confident DJI was “providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”

Ratcliffe, who directed national intelligence during the final months of the Trump administration, said that the 2017 assessment prompted the administration to advance a policy on not using technology from DJI or other Chinese companies, which are virtually all close to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The purchases made this year “makes very little sense,” he said during an appearance on Fox Business’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“It’s harmful to our national security. And also, Chinese drone technology is not as good as U.S. drone technology,” he said.

“So it’s hard to make sense out of what’s doing this, other than it is consistent with the Biden administration taking a softer approach, trying to promote a false narrative that somehow China is a competitor and not an adversary. And you would think that the lessons learned from COVID would teach everyone that China’s not to be trusted, and that moves like this are harmful to our national security posture,” he added.

The Secret Service, the White House, the Commerce Department, and the FBI didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The drones “will supplement the Agency’s existing fleet of small unmanned aircraft and improved mission support through the use of the most up-to-date equipment [a]nd software,” the Secret Service’s contract states.

The FBI listed a number of things DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), or drones, before claiming before the purchase that the drone “is the only commercially available consumer sUAS to combine all these capabilities at an acceptable cost.”

A spokesman for DJI told Axios in September that allegations of the company transmitting information to the CCP were not accurate.

“No one has ever found a deliberate attempt to steal data, or any of the other fantasies promoted by some of our critics. It simply isn’t true,” he said.

Congress passed legislation in 2019 banning the purchase by the U.S. government of drones made in China, but the bill contains exceptions.

Some members of Congress have been trying to tighten the ban, including Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.).

His bill, the Unmanned Aerial Security Act, was passed by a voice vote last week. It would bar the DHS from entering into or renewing a contract for any drones manufactured by Chinese companies.

“The Department of Homeland Security utilizes drones for critical missions, and it is imperative that we trust the technology we are using. It is well known that the Chinese Communist Party has stolen our technology and information in the past. That’s why this legislation is so important,” Guest said in a statement.

Zachary Stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.



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