White House offered “guidance” to second witness in LightSquared inquiry

posted at 8:45 am on September 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake opened up a new scandal in the White House by revealing that a four-star Air Force general told Congress that Obama administration officials had pressured him to change his testimony about LightSquared, a company with ties to Obama and his election campaign.  Eli follows up today with a report that a second witness, a head of a federal agency, says the White House also offered him “guidance” by asking him to insert a paragraph expressing confidence in LightSquared’s efforts:

[T]he White House’s Office of Management and Budget urged federal officials testifying before two House oversight hearings in the last month to say they hoped testing for GPS and LightSquared interference would take only 90 days, according to interviews.

The Daily Beast obtained the paragraph the OMB asked government witnesses to insert into their recent congressional testimony, which says in part, “We hope that testing can be complete within 90 days.”

The issue of LightSquared and the OMB’s interest in testimony came to light last week when The Daily Beast reported that Gen. William Shelton, the four-star general in charge of the Air Force Space Command, told House lawmakers in a classified briefing that he felt pressured by the White House to change his testimony on LightSquared. Shelton ultimately rejected the White House suggestions and delivered his own testimony last week.

On Monday, a second witness, Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told The Daily Beast that he too was asked by the OMB to insert the 90-day timeframe into his testimony before the House Science Committee, but he refused. The hearing originally was scheduled for Aug. 3, then rescheduled for Sept. 8.

Russo says he assumed that the White House approached all of the other witnesses and asked them to insert the paragraph into their prepared testimony.  Russo scoffed at the notion that the testing could be complete in 90 days, and ended up editing out that claim.  While Shelton told Congress that the White House exerted pressure on him to insert that claim, Russo told Eli that he considered it more “guidance” than pressure.

Still, how many witnesses told Congress that testing could be done in 90 days based on this “guidance” from administration officials?  One former FCC commissioner tells Eli that putting a 90-day window on testing would be unprecedented.  For one thing, tests like this take some time to execute, but testing often produces unpredicted outcomes.  In fact, that’s the whole point of conducting the tests.  When those arise, then more testing will be required to resolve the issues discovered, and on a matter as complex as dealing with interference to global navigational systems, 90 days sounds like a ridiculously short period of time.

Congress needs to look into the allegations of witness manipulation on behalf of LightSquared, especially Shelton’s claim of being pressured to make LightSquared look good.  If that pressure included insinuations of career damage for testifying honestly, then Congress needs to shine as much light on the connections between LightSqaured and the White House, and the decision to pressure the military on behalf of a donor.  At the very least, any further witnesses to Congress from this administration should be asked whether their testimony is entirely theirs, or whether someone else told them to testify in a particular manner.

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That’s the big story here that pretty much everyone is missing. The whole aim of Obama’s “rural broadband initiative” is to concentrate control of wireless broadband into the hands of one crony company thereby “democratizing” it. …

Scary thing is, even after this story has been out for a while now, nobody is picking up on the frightening motive behind it.

forest on September 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Thanks, forest. I was starting to worry I was losing it. You know, going paranoid or something.

But the deal with LightSquared was clearly designed to wipe out the two largest wireless carriers and, by virtue of government favoritism/subsidies, enable crony LightSquared to dominate the market. We have that design in writing.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Another thing that bothers me is Obama picks of winners and losers. He really really isn’t good at this.

Cindy Munford on September 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM

I’m thinking this scandal has an added dimension: The WH/FCC attempt to use a crony to take control over wireless communication.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I think anything is possible with these people. If they really had the liberal moral compass they profess where the common good and safety for all people is their goal, they’d be doing more to correct the damage caused by Gun Walker. As it is, they almost seem to double down every time one of these situations surfaces.

Call me a radical, but I think they are capable of anything. And I mean anything.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 11:16 AM

He really really isn’t good at this.

Cindy Munford on September 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM

The only thing that may save us from these people is their own bumbling, fumbling and hubris.

As hawkdriver just said, “As it is, they almost seem to double down every time one of these situations surfaces.”

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Perhaps the amendment we need is that Congress chooses the Attorney General.

Speakup on September 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Guns don’t kill people. The DOJ kills people.

lm10001 on September 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Guidance???

Obama Chapter 12, verse 3: “Thou shalt not speak badly of your God”

faraway on September 20, 2011 at 11:55 AM

I find myself for once saying, I couldn’t agree with you more. I really don’t think a quorum of Americans wants to get to the point of impeachment with any of our presidents. We need to keep hammering these scandals, but let his presidency die of natural causes.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 10:03 AM

Can we push for grand Jurys after he loses? For each and all scandals he and his administration is involved, or does he get a pass because he is EX-POTUS?

IowaWoman on September 20, 2011 at 11:55 AM

One former FCC commissioner tells Eli that putting a 90-day window on testing would be unprecedented. For one thing, tests like this take some time to execute, but testing often produces unpredicted outcomes.

But, Ed, that’s only true when the outcome of the tests haven’t already been determined beforehand.

Socratease on September 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM

there’s a Ramirez cartoon in that one right there. Lightsquared CEO and Obama standing next to a twitterhead on the new light^2 4G network in wondrous amazement while airliners and F16′s fall from the sky….

what a deal!

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Don’t forget Granny driving off a pier because her Garmin is on the fritz.

slickwillie2001 on September 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Congress needs to look into the allegations of witness manipulation on behalf of LightSquared, especially Shelton’s claim of being pressured to make LightSquared look good.

I still think the more important thing is to look at the FCC ruling commission and get the records of how this technological disaster got rushed through while bending every rule in its way.

Socratease on September 20, 2011 at 12:01 PM

I agree completely with flyfisher.

People who disagree seem to be making the argument that ephemeral or immediate ends outweigh permanent ends. In this case, the ephemeral end of ‘winning the next election’ outweighs the permanent end of ‘upholding the Constitution’.

If any member of Congress believes that President Obama has committed an impeachable offense under the Constitution, that member must move for impeachment and trial, or violate his oath of office to uphold the Constitution. To argue that the outcome of the next election is more important than upholding the Constitution is, frankly, astonishing to hear from conservatives.

How many times have we excoriated the Left for putting ephemeral ends before permanent ends? I believe I read a post or two about that just yesterday. However, if you believe that Obama should not be impeached if suitable evidence is found because we ‘must win the next election’, you are doing the same thing.

Scott H on September 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Didn’t the O admin subvert the reports on the Gulf oil spill findings, too?

onlineanalyst on September 20, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that his committee plans to investigate government loan programs to private corporations in light of allegations of improper dealings between the White House and failed energy company Solyndra and wireless startup LightSquared.

“I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers… it wasn’t because there were large contributions given to them,” the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday morning on CSPAN.

right2bright on September 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM

You guys have it all wrong…. the Lightsquared deal is a jobs creation and boost to the ecomomy deal.

Thinks of all the sales folk required to sell Lightsquared data plans and equipment, all the customer service reps required to service the million expected customers, All the sales folks needed in electronic stores to convince people that they need to upgrade their now functionless GPS systems, all the people working in factories to build the replacement GPS systems, all of the auto repair people needed to fix cars that drove off roads when the GPS system started to malfunction the day Lightsquared went live.

AverageJoe on September 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Obama: “If you love me, you will say…”

faraway on September 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM

***breaking on this

see drudge.

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM

ted c on September 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Woot…Woot!

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 12:41 PM

On the 90 day test window

What they want to test is a new GPS device that hasn’t been designed yet and the plan right now is to announce the new manufacturer of said device next week.

The 90 day window started on the 13th.

NOAA alone says that retrofitting their equipment will cost 500 million. That is just one department in Dept of Interior. Military retrofit will cost billions.

The Euros also state that Galileo would also be rendered useless if the Lightsquared plan is implemented.

You can read alot of the testimony, including Russo’s and Glackin’s (NOAA) at:

http://saveourgps.com. — click on the resources tab

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM

It’s RICO time.

Mason on September 20, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Nice Ted:

administration officials met with executives from the company on the same day that CEO Sanjiv Ahuja wrote a $30,400 check to the Democratic National Committee.

Same guy who said this:

LightSquared will function as “a disruptive force” in US wireless “by democratizing wireless broadband services,” the firm’s Chair and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja proclaimed almost a year ago

forest on September 20, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Can we push for grand Jurys after he loses? For each and all scandals he and his administration is involved, or does he get a pass because he is EX-POTUS?

IowaWoman on September 20, 2011 at 11:55 AM

It may rise to the level of impeachment or post-administration prosecution. But again, I agree with MJBrutus’s first comment. This, more than the seriousness of the charges, requires the public be behind the proceeding. Having said that, there are still on-line efforts to try George Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes sponsored by an on-line site formerly called AfterDowningStreet. They, with the Manson Family Procecuter, Vincent Bugliosi wanted to actually seek a capital conviction and have them put to death. But they are fringe. No sane person wants to do anything like that.

It probably isn’t very principled to say, but he’d almost have to have sold national secrets to the enemy or killed someone.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 1:23 PM

It probably isn’t very principled to say, but he’d almost have to have sold national secrets to the enemy or killed someone.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Somehow I think sabotaging a navigation system that our military finds vital comes close enough.

Somehow I think giving military grade armaments to people who wish to kill american Civilians is close enough.

Would you like me to keep going?

Chaz706 on September 20, 2011 at 1:38 PM

It probably isn’t very principled to say, but he’d almost have to have sold national secrets to the enemy or killed someone.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 1:23 PM

A speculation from TheHill.com comments:

Dems don’t want Obama to run in 2012 but they want to avoid being called racists by running a primary. Having Obama step aside under threat of impeachment would please everybody. In LightSquared, interference with US military communications and ordering a General to change his testimony might start shaping-up as treason.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Would you like me to keep going?

Chaz706 on September 20, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Sure.

But I’m not the guy to convince. I’ve already said that I think he’s conducted himself and his administration in a manner that rises to the level of impeachment. I’m just saying the public has to support impeachment and that’s a hard sell.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Interesting read.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Better not to give the Dems an easy out on Øbama 2012. I’d say wait on the impeachment until his next (if any) term.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I just looked up Sanjiv Ahuja, the CEO of LightSquared. I found this on Wiki. (emphasis mine)

Sanjiv is also founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Augere,[5] a company formed in 2007 with a vision to provide broadband access for all.[6] Augere is currently providing wireless broadband internet services in Bangladesh and Pakistan under the brand name Qubee.[7] As well, Sanjiv is the founder and Chairman of Eaton Telecom, which is building passive telecom infrastructure throughout Africa.[8]

Does this bother anyone, or am I just being paranoid?

texgal on September 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM

I’ve always wondered why Obama chose to emphasize the need to provide broadband access to all parts of rural America. Doesn’t really seem like a “presidential issue.” Well, the other shoe has dropped. His buddies would profit from expansion of broadband access to areas that are not going to be cabled.

I will say this about Obama: he is consistent in his focus. How does this benefit me.

Mallard T. Drake on September 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM

@ Mallard T. Drake, today at 2:52 PM

Saw your name, and instantly thought of you as “Ducky”!

GGMac on September 20, 2011 at 2:57 PM

His buddies would profit from expansion of broadband access to areas that are not going to be cabled.

I will say this about Obama: he is consistent in his focus. How does this benefit me.

Mallard T. Drake on September 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM

It would be worse than that. With the cronies paying next to nothing for their spectrum and other wireless companies like ATT and VzW paying tens of billions, they’d be destroyed. The favored survivor would also be on the hook for government loans.

How does a wireless monopoly run by Obama cronies sound to everyone? If you don’t like your carrier now, just wait until your choice is Hopenchange Wireless or Hopenchange Wireless.

forest on September 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM

forest on September 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM

I’m sure it’ll run as well as the elevators in “1984″.

hawkdriver on September 20, 2011 at 3:16 PM

From @HeadlinesHaiku…

There once was a firm named LightSquared, whose devices apparently erred. Preferred testimony that was merely baloney, the General would not be ensnared.

normschaef on September 20, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Augere is currently providing wireless broadband internet services in Bangladesh and Pakistan under the brand name Qubee.[7] As well, Sanjiv is the founder and Chairman of Eaton Telecom, which is building passive telecom infrastructure throughout Africa.[8]

texgal on September 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Hmmmm, another level of intrigue?

I’ve always wondered why Obama chose to emphasize the need to provide broadband access to all parts of rural America.

Mallard T. Drake on September 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I made a similar comment a day or so ago. I couldn’t figger why Øbama was interested in spending all this money to benefit gun-toting, Bible-thumping, knuckle-dragging, low sloping forheaders living in flyover country.

I think forest on September 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM has the answer:

It would be worse than that. With the cronies paying next to nothing for their spectrum and other wireless companies like ATT and VzW paying tens of billions, they’d be destroyed. The favored survivor would also be on the hook for government loans.

How does a wireless monopoly run by Obama cronies sound to everyone?

Øbama wants control over the commanding heights, such as energy, finance and communications, including wireless communications.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM

This is not the first analysis of LightSquared that tags it pie-in-the-sky:

However, it still looks like LightSquared is building a castle made of sand:

~ It’s fighting with the Pentagon and the multi-billion-dollar GPS industry over interference, and while it had made an offer to buy new spectrum to mitigate the risks of GPS interference, that action just shined more doubt on Harbinger’s bet on LightSquared.
~ It doesn’t have devices, unless we count the poorly reviewed Genus phone offered by AT&T and TerreStar.
~ It does have to have dual-mode chips available for its customers, but if it changes spectrum to avoid GPS interference, that will require a radio chip tweak that could cause delays in devices getting to market.
~ It has until the third quarter (or end of year) in which to cover 9 million people and until 2012 to cover 100 million.
~ It no longer appears to be working with Nokia Siemens Networks, although it is still active in building out networks in Denver, Baltimore/Washington D.C. and Las Vegas.
~ Its best hope for a network build-out partner, T-Mobile, is set to be acquired by AT&T.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 3:44 PM

His buddies would profit from expansion of broadband access to areas that are not going to be cabled.

And if what they are pushing now goes through testing and gets approved.

His buddies will have the only GPS devices that work. Of course, they’ll patent and license the technology to everyone so that they can either make/buy new devices or retrofit all of the ones currently in service.

So in essence, the taxpayers (who are going to pay for the installation of the GPS killing system) will pay for the Government to first make all current GPS devices obsolete, but we’ll be paying for the development of the replacement and paying again to buy all new devices.

Triple-Quadruple-Quintuple payoffs for Lightsquared.

**** I’m not sure if people realize it, but there is an important component to GPS that makes the costs involved here simply skyrocket beyond everything you thought until now.

TIMESTAMPING – GPS provides timestamping for timeclocks, data gathering equipment, medical devices and so much more. Lightsquared’s system would render the timestamping capabilities of these devices inoperable. They’d have to be replaced or retrofitted.

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 3:50 PM

~ Its best hope for a network build-out partner, T-Mobile, is set to be acquired by AT&T.

It doesn’t need a build-out partner. Rural Broadband infrastructure in this plan is to be funded by the federal government.

Obama is the network build-out partner. The Lightsquared plan from the beginning was to have the government cover rural broadband installation costs before any of the private carriers got around to it.

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 3:50 PM

The more you know, the bigger it gets.

Obama is the network build-out partner. The Lightsquared plan from the beginning was to have the government cover rural broadband installation costs before any of the private carriers got around to it.

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Unbelievable. Makes Solyndra look like small potatoes… on several different levels.

petefrt on September 20, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Traditionally one of the first acts of a newly elected president is to grand a full pardon for any crimes to the previous president. That tradition insures a smooth transition of presidents.

It is a tradition that should not be extended to Obama. Obama has committed more crimes than any other president in our history. He has caused more destruction of our country and society than any other president in our history. He has undermined the Constitution and its law more than any other president in our history. He has been discovered or suspected to be involved in more crimes than anyother president in our history.

Since he so dislikes our Constitutional Republic in favor of a socialist democracy dictatorship, he should not recieve the benefit of its forgiveness. In place of that forgiveness he should get what he deserves, a special procescutor to insure that he reaps no reward for his deceptions, crimes in office, crimes against the Constitution and spends the rest of his life praising himself in a cell in gitmo.

Franklyn on September 20, 2011 at 4:51 PM

I would be shocked as s**t if BHO wins a second term with all of hte scandals popping up almost on a daily basis now.

Shocked as s**t.

madmonkphotog on September 20, 2011 at 5:40 PM

Traditionally one of the first acts of a newly elected president is to grand a full pardon for any crimes to the previous president. That tradition insures a smooth transition of presidents.

Huhu?!?!? Have we had so many villains in office that they’ve needed their successors to pardon them??? The only one I remember is Ford pardoning Nixon. Have there been others?

It is a tradition that should not be extended to Obama. Obama has committed more crimes than any other president in our history. He has caused more destruction of our country and society than any other president in our history. He has undermined the Constitution and its law more than any other president in our history. He has been discovered or suspected to be involved in more crimes than any other president in our history.

Since he so dislikes our Constitutional Republic in favor of a socialist democracy dictatorship, he should not receive the benefit of its forgiveness. In place of that forgiveness he should get what he deserves, a special prosecutor to insure that he reaps no reward for his deceptions, crimes in office, crimes against the Constitution and spends the rest of his life praising himself in a cell in Gitmo.

Franklyn on September 20, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Now there I agree with you 100%!

Mary in LA on September 20, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Just looked up “Presidential pardons” on Wikipedia — evidently our Presidents have pardoned an impressive number of people, but I could find only one instance of a President pardoning his predecessor, the aforementioned pardon of Nixon by Ford.

Mary in LA on September 20, 2011 at 6:23 PM

Tamp
Temp
Tumper
Tampher
Tampering with a witness is a serious felony that usually results in a prison sentence.(I knew I’d get it before the NYT)

Don L on September 20, 2011 at 6:30 PM

If this technology interferes with our GPS guidance systems, what’s to prevent the Chinese from copying it and using it against us?

This looks like a giant Achilles heel.

schmuck281 on September 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM

The Chinese would have to sneak a 100K or more terrestrial base stations into the U.S. and get them set up secretly to fire up a system like Lightsquared’s.

The orignal plan for Skyterra/Lightsquared was a satellite based rural broadband network. That didn’t work, so they went back to the Obama FCC and got a waiver for their plans and now are creating a hybrid satellite-terrestrial network with the same spectrum.

The system now requires at least a few hundred thousand base stations set up around the nation communicating with each other and the satellites.

The problem is that GPS is stomped out within 2 km of any of these base stations and at any location in the air that is in a line between the satellite and a base station.

So NOW (as of Sept 13th), they want to develop a new GPS receiver and require everyone who uses GPS to buy new equipment (which has yet to be designed, much less manufactured).

Jason Coleman on September 20, 2011 at 10:48 PM

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