Jim Kouri
September 27, 2011
Air Force General blows whistle on Obama, but media deaf
By Jim Kouri

A United State Air Force general is blowing the whistle on another alleged White House scandal, but few in the news media seem to be listening.

According to General William Shelton, the commanding officer of U.S. Air Force's space command, he was told to alter his testimony before the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Strategic Forces regarding an Obama White House attempt to award a defense contract to the Lightsquared firm.

Lightsquared is a high-tech company doing business in Virginia that's owned by billionaire Philip Falcone, an Obama friend and campaign contributor.

According to the National Legal and Policy Center, Phil Falcone had visited the White House and made large cash contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Soon after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted his LightSquared a highly unusual waiver that allows the company to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap.

Republican lawmakers say that after Falcon's visit, the Obama White House allegedly tried to push through a Lightsquared's proposed wireless network regardless of the objections emanating from military commanders who believed the project could disrupt key U.S. satellite systems.

At a hearing on Thursday, lawmakers on strategic forces subcommittee, especially the Republican chairman, Michael Turner, requested that the House Oversight Committee investigate if Falcone's company garnered any type of special treatment from the White House or from Obama appointees.

The hearing came after a report by a blogger on a news and commentary web site alleged the White House pressed General Shelton to downplay his concerns about the proposed Lightsquared system.

According to the National Legal and Policy Center, Phil Falcone had visited the White House and made large cash contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Soon after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted his LightSquared a highly unusual waiver that allows the company to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap.

"Under extremely unusual circumstances, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently granted a company called LightSquared the right to use wireless spectrum to build out a national 4G wireless network. LightSquared will get the spectrum for a song, while its competitors have to spend billions," according to NLPC's Ken Boehm

President Obama's underlings deny any wrongdoing, and officials at Lightsquared denied the charges that it is receiving preferential treatment from President Obama or his staff.

Republican staff members on the subcommittee say that the decorated General Shelton told the lawmakers that Obama administration officials urged the general to describe Lightsquared's system favorably during his congressional testimony.

During the hearing, General Shelton told committee members that the wireless broadband network manufactured by Lightsquared would have a negative impact on the current Global Positioning System (GPS) relied on by both the U.S. military and private sector users of the GPS.

General Shelton told the committee members: Tests with Defense Department experts, civilian agencies and others "indicate the LightSquared terrestrial network operating in the originally proposed manner poses significant challenges for almost all GPS users."

The general insisted through his spokesperson on Friday that he had not "watered down his testimony due to alleged White House pressure."

According to a source familiar with the Lightsquared probe, many officers at the Pentagon are highly suspicious of the President, the White House staff and even Obama's appointees at the Defense Department.

Another occurrence being probed is that the allegation that Lightsquared at first offered to sell satellite phones on its network, however the Federal Communications Commission allegedly issued a special waiver to the firm thus allowing sell terrestrial-based wireless service to other companies.

Department of Defense officials. such as General Shelton, in the past have raised concerns about interference with GPS users, and the FCC would then promise to disallow a firm to begin operating their network until after intense testing is carried out to ensure there is no disruption to satellite navigation.

The head of the FCC declined to appear before the committee on Thursday, which the chairman, Turner, called an "affront" to the panel.

Meanwhile, Falcone and Lightsquared executives are taking the offensive by giving Obama-friendly journalists at Politico exclusive interviews.

LightSquared CEO. Sanjiv Ahuja, and its billionaire backer, Phil Falcone, denied all allegations that the wireless company used its political pull with the Obama administration to secure approval of its business plans with the Defense Department.

"It's just very disappointing that people are not seeing the facts here, and [that] this has become a real political issue," Falcone, a senior executive at the hedge fund firm Harbinger Capital, said during his Politico interview. "It's not a function of being a Democrat or a Republican, it's about trying to be an innovator. ... It's very disappointing and frustrating that we are getting stonewalled like this. ... I kinda scratch my head every single day and say I can't believe this is happening."

Falcone and Ahuja denied receiving special treatment from the White House or the FCC in their ongoing quest to become the nation's first wholesale wireless broadband provider, according to Politico.

But some observers see things differently. Mike Baker, a political strategist and a former military officer, believes that this investigation needs to be taken to wherever or whomever it leads. He's like to see a special prosecutor appointed.

"This is a very important national security issue, not some politically-motivated witch hunt like the Valerie Plame-CIA case. But we all know that with the news media protecting this president, the chances of anything being done are slim or none," he quipped.

"First of all, we know what motivates politicians and big business. In the middle you have a career officer who is a four-star general. Whom would you believe? What's in it for General Shelton to make up stories?" Baker asks.

"Let's hope General Shelton sticks to his guns and that more Pentagon and Justice Department officials decide enough is enough from this administration," Baker added.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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