General Accuses White House of Pressuring Him To Change Testimony To Favor Company Run By Democratic Donor

There is a disturbing story out this week that four-star Air Force Gen. William Shelton testified under oath that the White House tried to pressure him into changing his testimony on a new wireless project in a way that would benefit a large Democratic donor. There is also an allegation that someone in the Administration leaked the intended testimony to the company.

Shelton heads the Air Force Space Command and was intending to raise serious concerns of how a new wireless project to threaten military operations. The project is being pushed by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. After allegedly leaking the testimony to the company, the White House allegedly asked Shelton to change his testimony to say he supported the use of more broadband for commercial use and could resolve the problems surrounding LightSquared with more testing in just 90 days. Shelton viewed the changes to be untrue and resisted. He was asked directly in a classified briefing about any such pressure and confirmed it.

Once again, I see a bit of a double standard in the coverage on this point. During the Bush terms, such intervention on behalf of donors was aggressively pursued by the media. This story would have been a major story. As search of the story this morning shows relatively light attention from the mainstream media. Why?

If there is another side to this story, the media should confirm it in broader discussion of the allegations. I am struck that the testimony was given in what appears to be a classified hearing. The intelligence and military committees appear quite selective in when to inform the public of such testimony. Torture was left classified and undisclosed until the media forced the story into the public. Yet, this story came out with little difficulty. Putting aside the selectivity, it is a story worthy of greater media attention.

Source: Daily Beast

32 thoughts on “General Accuses White House of Pressuring Him To Change Testimony To Favor Company Run By Democratic Donor

  1. Nal,

    I’m sure that your light-squared years ahead of me on this one, but will post the following on the off-chance that it includes any info of which you aren’t already aware…

    http://www.insidegnss.com/node/2779

    Excerpt:

    FCC MIA

    One member of the Obama administration was notable for his absence. Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski, though originally set to speak before the panel, had refused to appear, Turner said in his opening remarks to the hearing.

    “I consider the chairman’s failure to show up today to be an affront to the House Armed Services Committee,” said Turner. “It appears to be symptomatic of a disregard by the chairman for the consequences of the FCC’s January 26 waiver to LightSquared.”

    In response to questions from the committee Shelton said that, should a technical solution appear that would enable GPS and LightSquared to coexist, it would require thorough testing and perhaps modification to DoD’s software — and a lot of money and time.

    “We have not estimated cost,” Shelton told the subcommittee, “however. I think it would be very safe to say that the cost would in the B’s — billions of dollars. We believe that the time would probably be a decade or more to accomplish all this. There are probably a million receivers out there in the military, maybe even more than that.”

    The filters that are being suggested by LightSquared, he said, could undermine the precision of some receivers

    “There is a set a frequencies and then there are harmonics off those frequencies. It is those harmonics . . . that are important for the precision of those wideband receivers,” Shelton explained. “Clipping off those harmonics decreases the accuracy of the receiver. If there is something else magic out there, we don’t know about it.”

    Asked why DoD had not raised the alarm years earlier when the FCC was considering and approving the increases in power and numbers of broadcast towers at the center of LightSquared’s proposal, Shelton said that the threat to GPS only became clear early this year when LightSquared changed the focus of its business plan from satellite services to a terrestrial network.

    “The frequency band that we’re talking about here has, by FCC rulings in the past, always been intended to be a ‘quiet neighborhood’ where GPS could coexist with other signals of the same magnitude,” the general said. “However, if you put a rock band in the middle of that neighborhood it is a very different sort of circumstance.”

    Other witness at today’s hearing included Teresa Takai, the DoD’s chief information officer; Karl Nebbia, associate administrator, Office of Spectrum Management, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA); and Julius Knapp, chief of the FCC’s Office of Engineering Technology.

    In his prepared testimony, Knapp said, “I want to make absolutely clear that the Commission will not authorize LightSquared to begin commercial service if its operation would cause harmful interference to GPS.”

    He later defended the general wireless broadband initiative, but added, “At the same time, the Commission will ensure that entities such as LightSquared do not cause harmful interference to GPS systems. We will continue to work closely with the NTIA, DOD and other federal agencies to assess LightSquared’s proposal and determine the viability of technical solutions that would enable both services to co-exist.” (end excerpt)

  2. Nal: “Where is the FCC in all this?”

    —🙂

    They’ve been missing in action for years. I’m surprised the Administration doesn’t sell those bracelets for the FCC employees like the Vietnam vets do for MIA soldiers.

  3. According to the FEC disclosure database, Falcone donated $28,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2008, $20,000 to the Republican Party of Minnesota in 2008 and 2009, $12,300 to Norm Coleman’s recount campaign, $4,600 to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign and even $1,000 to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. He also made large contributions to Democrats, but he didn’t contribute a dime to the Obama administration.

  4. raff,

    You are a business man, right? If you predecessor gets the ball rolling and the economy is in the crapper like the US Job market was when Obama took office…wouldn’t you keep the White House Warned in 2009 That Solyndra Investment going….I had no ideal that it was Bush initiated….My question would be what should Obama have done differently….

  5. At two points during the LightSquared regulatory process, according to the White House visitor logs, Falcone was cleared to meet with members of Obama’s staff. In the months before and after those meetings, he and his wife and the CEO for LightSquared donated more than $90,000 to Democratic Party committees .

    On Sept. 22, 2009, as he was completing the takeover of SkyTerra, Falcone and LightSquared CEO Ahuja met with James Kohlenberger, chief of staff for the Office of Science and Technology. On Sep. 30, 2009, Falcone and his wife Lisa each gave $30,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the maximum allowed. On Sept. 23, 2010, Ahuja gave $30,400 to the Democratic National Committee; on Oct. 28, 2010, he gave the same amount to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    Falcone has previously written checks mainly to Republicans, or split his donations. For instance, in June 2008, he and his wife, Lisa, each gave $28,500 to both the Republican and Democratic Senate campaign committees. That was the maximum allowed at the time.

    http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/07/19/5253/politically-connected-lightsquared-pushes-wireless-internet-plan-despite-gps/page/0/2

  6. raff,

    Now here I go defending Obama….I think that maybe his heart was in the right place…Jobs for and in America….I too agree that the best thing that could have happened was to walk away…I think that it was possible that if he did not proceed that the GOP would have used that against him and that Obama saw this as a political liability…Unfortunately it did not pan out and private investors lost I think equally as much…

    This type of thing does not get that much money without having a Bi-Partisan Support…. at some point….

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