According to Peter Schweizer’s new book Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) husband Richard Blum was part-owner of a Chinese firm that allegedly sold computers with spyware chips to the U.S. military. The military has never been able to calculate how much sensitive data these computers allowed China to steal.
A full chapter of Red-Handed is devoted to tracking Feinstein’s mutually beneficial relationship with communist China. The senator has made herself very useful to Beijing — so useful that she actually tried to excuse the Tiananmen Square massacre by suggesting China only called in combat troops to murder thousands of demonstrators because it ran out of cops.
Her husband did a great deal of lucrative business with Chinese companies, including entities run by the Communist government and linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In one of those deals, Blum became a major investor in Lenovo, a computer company founded by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), an institution tied to both the Chinese government and the PLA.
Lenovo grew into a major player in the worldwide computer marketplace after it acquired IBM’s line of personal computer products in 2005, with the aid of private equity firms which included Blum’s Newbridge Capital. Some lawmakers worried Lenovo’s purchase could jeopardize U.S. national security and transfer advanced American computer technology to China. Feinstein, who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, was not one of them.
Security agencies across the Western world — including the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia — discovered security vulnerabilities in Lenovo products and banned them from sensitive operations. Somehow Lenovo still managed to sell a large number of laptop computers to the U.S. military, which discovered that many of those machines included motherboard chips that “would record all the data that was being inputted into that laptop and send it back to China,” as a computer operations manager for the U.S. Marines in Iraq put it.
The Pentagon released an audit in 2019 that found the Department of Defense (DoD) still has not formally banned computers from Lenovo, now the largest personal computer company in China, even though the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Intelligence Directorate have both identified the machines as cyber-espionage risks. The U.S. Air Force purchased 1,378 Lenovo products worth $1.9 million as recently as 2018.