Former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien Joins Bipartisan Concern Against Legislation that Strengthens China and Russia

Washington, D.C. (02/10/2022) – On Friday, former National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien joined a Council on Foreign Relations panel and discussed the growing tensions with Russia, China, and North Korea and the role technology plays in the United States’ ability to respond to potential threats. O’Brien’s statements echo similar concerns raised by former advisors to both Democratic and Republican presidents.

“This is a bigger issue than just a cyberattack from Russia involving Ukraine,” O’Brien said. “We need to make sure that we’re fully funding and that our corporations—our private corporations—that are doing the AI research, companies in Silicon Valley that are doing quantum research, are fully supported. We need to make sure that we’re moving forward on 5G and getting spectrum out to the American people…” He continued, “…this is something we’ll be facing for the next ten or twenty, thirty, fifty, hundred years, and we need to make sure that our—that we maintain our lead in tech and don’t cede that to Beijing or Moscow or any other country.”

Last month, O’Brien wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal outlining his concerns with legislation like the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992) and how it would strengthen Chinese capabilities and weaken U.S. national security.

O’Brien’s continued arguments build on the concerns that top national security officials for past Republican and Democratic presidents have been publicly stating for months – that legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate could weaken the United States on the world stage.

In September, Leon Panetta, the former Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration, signed onto a letter with 11 other former national security officials, calling on Congress to reconsider antitrust legislation that will negatively impact U.S. national security.

The letter said in part: “The U.S. should adopt policies to ensure we can lead in research and development (R&D), innovation, standards setting, and secure production and supply. Yet just as competition with China enters a critical phase, Congress risks undermining America’s key advantage vis-à-vis China by pursuing domestic legislation that threatens to impede U.S. companies and their ability to pursue such innovation. Recent congressional antitrust proposals that target specific American technology firms would degrade critical R&D priorities, allow foreign competitors to displace leaders in the U.S. tech sector both at home and abroad, and potentially put sensitive U.S. data and IP in the hands of Beijing.”

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