Republican spin doctors are now accusing the Obama administration and the President of corruption over a conditional Federal Communications Commission waiver granted in January to LightSquared to build cheap terrestrial wireless capacity in a section of the wireless spectrum close to the GPS bandwidth. It is obvious that the media attacks were pre-planned and coordinated.
What the GOP spin doctors are hanging their corruption charge on is a statement by Air Force General William Shelton that the White House “told him to alter his testimony” before the House Subcommittee on strategic Forces last Thursday. They call General Shelton a Whistle Blower, a moniker he did not ascribe to himself.
What exposes this is just a hypocritical partisan attack is that General Shelton appeared in a secured hearing room and the hearing was classified. Yet, shortly after it ended, various Tea Party publications, online columns, and the Daily Beast began writing articles spelling out with specificity what transpired in that classified hearing. This brings up concerns about classified information in the Republican run House.
What is sickening about this corruption charge is that the Bush administration routinely pressured witnesses to change their testimony before Congress on issues ranging from climate change to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to the size of the deficit. Republicans in Congress including some of the same ones screaming foul about this incident never raised any corruption allegations about Bush.
The Republican’s case is that the owner of Lightsquared is a donor to the Democrats. They apparently are not at all embarrassed about how phony and hypocritical that charge looks when they (Republicans in Congress) take millions of dollars in campaign contributions from defense contractors, oil companies, and Wall Street banks every year then pass or kill legislation when requested to do so by those companies. One Republican Congressmen is in Federal prison today for getting caught.
Apparantly it is only corruption when the allegations are made against the first African American President in history. It is “good government” when Republican Presidents actually do what Obama was accused Obama of doing.
Broadband access to every corner of America was a goal Obama set out in his campaign and in two of his State of the Union messages. Lightsquared was working on this before Obama took office, and went through normal govvernment channels with no spedial assistance from the White House. Their proposal will lower the cosdst of Broadband to all consumers.
The Daily Beast article claims their information came from unnamed Republican staffers of the Sub Committee. The Beast reported that “Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company [Lightsquared]. And the White House asked the General to alter the testimony to add two points:  that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and  that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days.
The Beast says Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched. However, Shelton only brought it up when prompted by GOP Congressmen on the committee. He declined comment.
“There was an attempt to influence the text of the testimony and to engage LightSquared in the process in order to bias his testimony,” Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) Chairman of the Sub Committee was quoted in The Beast.
According to the article, the General told Turner’s committee that preliminary tests of a new LightSquared proposal to use only a portion of the band that it was licensed originally in 2004 would cause significant disruptions to GPS. He said the GPS spectrum was supposed to originally be a “quiet neighborhood,” meaning that lower strength signals could exist near the GPS spectrum. Speaking of the LightSquared plan, he said, “If you put a rock band in the middle of that quiet neighborhood, that’s a different circumstance.”
The White House confirmed Wednesday that its Office of Management and Budget suggested changes to the general’s testimony but insisted such reviews are routine and not influenced by politics. And it said Shelton was permitted to give the testimony he wants without any pressure. And he did just that.
The OMB said it routinely reviews and clears all Executive Branch agency communications with Congress, including proposed testimony, to ensure consistency in the administration’s policy positions White House spokesman Eric Schultz told the Daily Beast. “When divergent views emerge, they are often reconciled through discussions at the appropriate policy levels of OMB and the agencies.” Schultz said.
LightSquared has previously acknowledged it met with officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as it tried to shepherd the project, which is consistent with President Obama’s goal of trying to expand broadband wireless access nationwide. That office has a mandate to meet with members of private industry. The White House said it did not try to influence the licensing process for LightSquared at the FCC.
The FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski also said the White House never lobbied him about LightSquared. Other than the concerns addressed by General Shelton, which have been addressed by LightSquared to the satisfaction of the FCC, the objections to this waiver are coming from competitors of LightSquared like Garmin, a GPS company.
.This is why Washington does not work. Congress will screw consumers if helping them would give Obama a win.
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