Senators want answers on threats to undersea cables

A bipartisan quartet of senators, alarmed by news reports that Russian submarines and spy ships are shadowing the undersea cables that connect the United States with the world, want administration officials to explain their plans to protect them.

"Given the significant impact an attack could have on our economic stability, and cyber, energy, and national security, we write to ensure there is an effective effort between the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies to secure our nation," the senators wrote in a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The letter was signed by Republicans Joni Ernst of Iowa, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, along with Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Concerns about securing vital fiber-optic cables that carry nearly all global telecommunications have risen since the New York Times revealed Oct. 25 that Russian submarines and spy ships were aggressively operating near them, causing U.S. and allied military and intelligence officials to worry that Moscow was considering severing them in the event of a crisis.