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Letter from seven Congressmen to the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Letter from seven Congressmen to the Office of Science and Technology Policy

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Published by: DealBook on Sep 21, 2011
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09/21/2011

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RALPHM.HALL,TEXAS
CHAIRMAN
EDDIEBERNICEJOHNSON,TEXAS
RANKINGMEMBER
U.S.HOUSEOFREPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEEONSCIENCE,SPACE,ANDTECHNOLOGY
2321RAYBURNHOUSEOFFICEBUILDINGWASHINGTON,DC20515-6301(202)225-6371
September20,2011TheHonorableJohnP.HoldrenDirectorOfficeofScience
&
TechnologyPolicy7251
i
Street,N.W.Washington,DC20502DearDr.Holdren:Earlierthismonth,theHouseScience,Space,andTechnologyCommitteeheldahearing!toexamineconcernsandissuesassociatedwithinterferenceontheGlobalPositioningSystem(GPS)signalfromtheproposedLightSquaredLLCterrestrialbroadbandnetworkrelatedtoFederalscientificactivities.TheCommitteereceivedtestimonyfromanumberofAdministrationofficialswhowereinvitedbecauseofconcernsofpotentialinterferencefromtheLightSquarednetworkthatcoulddisableGPSsignalsusedforcriticalU.S.Governmentservicesandsciencemissions.ToprepareMembersforthishearing,theCommitteerequestedcopiesofcommentssubmittedtotheNationalTelecommunicationsandInformationAdministration(NTIA)byagenciesunderthejurisdictionofthisCommittee.Despitefollow-uprequestsbyourstaff,thefollowingagencieshaveyettoproducethedocumentsrequestedofthem:DepartmentofHomelandSecurity(DHS),NationalOceanicandAtmosphericAdministration(NOAA),theNationalInstituteofStandardsandTechnology(NIST)andtheDepartmentofCommerce(DOC).Thisnon-compliancebyAdministrationofficialswasthefirstofmanyredflagsraised.aboutthesituationregardingLightSquared.FundraisingSeveralnewsstorieshaveemergedidentifyingsomequestionabletiminginvolvingfundraisingdonationstotheDemocraticPartyandmeetingrequestsfromLightSquaredrepresentativestohigh-levelAdministrationofficials.Accordingtoonestory,LightSquaredChiefExecutiveOfficer(CEO)SanjivAhujadonated$30,400totheDemocraticNationalCommitteeonthesamedaythattwootherLightSquaredemployeescontactedtheWhiteHouseformeetingswithseniorofficials.
2
InaSeptember23,2010e-mail,LightSquaredrepresentativeDaveKumarwrotetoAneeshChopra,thePresident'schieftechnologyadviser:
1
HouseCommitteeonScience,SpaceandTechnologyhearing,
"Impactsa/theLighiSquaredNetworkonFederalScienceActivities,"
September8,2011(hereinafterSSTHearing)
2
FredSchulteandJohnAloysiusFarrell,"EmailsShowWirelessFirm'sCommunicationswithWhiteHouseasCampaignDonationsWereMade,"CenterForPublicIntegrity,September14,2011
 
DirectorHoldrenSeptember20,2011Pagetwo"HiAneesh!..
.I
touchedbasewithmyclientSanjivAhujaandheexpressedaninterestinmeetingwithyou...HeisgoingtobeinDCnextweekforafundraisingdinnerwiththePresident."
[AttachmentA]
In
anothere-mailthesameday.HenryGoldberg.aLightSquaredlawyerwrotetoJamesKohlenberger,chiefofstafffortheWhiteHouseOfficeofScienceandTechnologyPolicy:"YoumayrecallthatyoumetwithSanjivAhujaaboutayearago,withPhilFalconeofHarbinger,asPhil
&
Sanjivwerefinalizingtheirplansforanewwirelessbroadbandnetwork...Sanjivwillbeatfund-raiserdinnerwiththePresidentonSeptember30andwouldliketovisitwithyou,perhapsTomKalil,andAneeshChopra,ifitisatallpossible."
[AttachmentB]
Bothe-mailsreferencetheattendanceoftheCEOatafundraiserforthePresident.Asfurtherevidenceofquestionabletiming,aboutayearprior,Mr.PhilipFalcone,themajorityownerofLightSquared,andMr.AhujametwithMr.KohlenbergeronSeptember22,2009.Aboutaweekafterthatmeeting,Mr.Falconeandhiswifeeachdonated$30,400totheDemocraticSenatorialCampaignCommittee.
3
Whilesomemaycallitacoincidence,weremainskepticalthatshortlyaftertwoseparatesetsofmeetingsandmeetingrequestsoneyearapart,LightSquaredemployeesmadefive-figuredonationstotheDemocraticParty.TamperingwithTestimonyOnSeptember15,aHouseArmedServicesSubcommitteehearing"onthenationalsecurityimplicationsoftheLightSquaredproposalincludedtestimonyfromGeneralWilliamShelton,CommanderofAirForceSpaceCommand.
In
hiswrittentestimony,GeneralSheltonsum11larizedhisconcernsaboutLightSquaredbystating,"[T]hetestdatacollectedbyDoD,civilagencies,GPSindustrypartners,GPSreceivermanufacturers,andGPSserviceprovidersallindicatetheLightSquaredterrestrialnetworkoperatingintheoriginallyproposedmannerposessignificantchallengesforalmostallGPSusers."s,-
In
aclassifiedbriefingpriortothehearing,mediareportsindicatethat"pressedbymembers,Gen.WilliamSheltonsaidtheWhiteHousetriedtopressurehimtochangehistestimonytomakeitmorefavorabletoacompanytiedtoalargeDemocraticdonor."~
3
Ibid.
4
HouseArmedServicesSubcommitteeonStrategicForces,
"SustainingGPSjorNationalSecurity,"
September15,2011(hereinafterHouseArmedServicesSubcommitteeHearing)
5
Ibid.
6
EliLake,"WhiteHousePressureforaDonor?"TheDailyBeast,September15,2011(hereinafterLakeArticle)
 
DirectorHoldrenSeptember20,2011PagethreeAccordingtothearticle,notonlywastheGeneral'stestimonyleakedtoLightSquaredpriortothehearing,but:"[T]heWhiteHouseaskedthegeneraltoalterthetestimonytoaddtwopoints:thatthegeneralsupportedtheWhiteHousepolicytoaddmorebroadbandforcommercialuse;andthatthePentagonwouldtrytoresolvethequestionsaroundLightSquaredwithtestinginjust90days.Sheltonchafedattheintervention,whichseemedtosoftenthePentagon'spositionandmightbeviewedashelpingthecompanyasittriestogettheproject
launched.l"
AlthoughweunderstandthatOMBroutinelyreviewstestimonypresentedbyAdministrationofficialstoCongress,thefactthatafour-starAirForceGeneralwas"chafed"bythesuggestionsmadeinthiscaseraisesconcernsabouttheappropriatenessoftheWhiteHouse'ssuggestions.TheseconcernsarefurtherenhancedbyourobservationofidenticallanguageintheconclusionportionofAdministrationwitnesses.'writtentestimoniessubmittedtoourCommitteeforourSeptember8LightSquaredHearing."Thelanguage,whichspecifiesitreflectstheAdministration'sview,softenstheotherwisebluntassessmentsthatwerearticulatedduringthehearing;.WewerealsotroubledtonoteasoftertonetowardtheLightSquaredprojectintheAdministrationofficials'writtentestimonieswhencomparedtothetechnicalassessmenttheysubmittedtoNTIA.Specifically,theDepartmentofTransportationofficialmadenoreferenceinhiswrittentestimonyforourSeptember8hearingabouthow"GPSsafetyenhancementsareexpectedtopreventthelossofapproximately800livesoverthenext10years,withanestimatedpublicsafetybenefitofabout$5billion.v"SugarcoatingtestimonyovercriticalmattersthatincludethelivesofAmericansisirresponsible,andinevitablyraisesquestionsabouttheAdministration'spriorities.
r
MuzzlingOfficialsMediareportsalsoraiseconcernsthattheallegationsinvolvingGeneralSheltonandhistestimony,alongwiththefingerprintsoftheWhiteHouseonthewrittentestimoniessubmittedforourCommitteehearing,maybetheruleandnottheexceptionrelativetotheAdministration'ssupportforLightSquared.Asonestoryreports;"AccordingtoWashingtonsourcesfamiliarwiththecomplexpoliticalwrangling,theWhiteHouse-towhichtheNTIAreportsinmattersofspectrumallocation-istrying
7
Ibid.
8
SSTHearing,
supra,
note1.
9
LetterfromMr.JoelSzabatofDOTtoMr.KarlNebbiaatNTIA,July21,2011

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