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Letter from seven Congressmen to the Office of Management and Budget

Letter from seven Congressmen to the Office of Management and Budget

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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
September20,2011Mr.JacobLewDirectorOfficeofManagementandBudget7251
i
Street,N.W.Washington,D.C.20503DearMr.Lew:Earlierthismonth,theHouseScience,Space,andTechnologyCommitteeheldahearing!toexamineconcernsandissuesassociatedwithinterferenceontheGlobalPositioningSystem(GPS)signalfromtheproposedLightSquaredLLCterrestrialbroadbandnetworkrelatedtoFederalscientificactivities.TheCommitteereceivedtestimonyfromanumberofAdministrationoffi.cialswhowereinvitedbecauseofconcernsofpotentialinterferencefromtheLightSquarednetworkthatcoulddisableGPSsignalsusedforcriticalU:S.Governmentservicesandsciencemissions.ToprepareMembersforthishearing,theCommitteerequestedcopiesofcommentssubmittedtotheNationalTelecommunicationsandInformationAdministration(NTIA)byagenciesunderthejurisdictionofthisCommittee.Despitefollow-uprequestsbyourstaff,thefollowingagencieshaveyettoproducethedocumentsrequestedofthem:DepartmentofHomelandSecurity(DHS),NationalOceanicandAtmosphericAdministration(NOAA),theNationalInstituteofStandardsandTechnology(NIST)andtheDepartmentofCommerce(DOC).Thisnon-compliancebyAdministrationofficialswasthefirstofmanyredflagsraisedaboutthesituationregardingLightSquared.FundraisingSeveralnewsstorieshaveemergedidentifyingsomequestionabletiminginvolvingfundraisingdonationstotheDemocraticPartyandmeetingrequestsfromLightSquaredrepresentativestohigh-levelAdministrationofficials.Accordingtoonestory,LightSquaredChiefExecutiveOfficer(CEO)SanjivAhujadonated$30,400totheDemocraticNationalCommitteeonthesamedaythattwootherLightSquaredemployeescontactedtheWhiteHouseformeetingswithseniorofficials.
2
In
aSeptember23,2010e-mail,LightSquaredrepresentativeDaveKumarwrotetoAneeshChopra,thePresident'schieftechnologyadviser:
i
HouseCommitteeonScience,SpaceandTechnologyhearing,
"Impactsa/theLightSquaredNetworkonFederalScienceActivities,"
September8,2011(hereinafterSSTHearing)
2
FredSchulteandJohnAloysiusFarrell,"EmailsShowWirelessFirm'sCommunicationswithWhiteHouseasCampaignDonationsWereMade,"CenterForPublicIntegrity,September14,2011
 
DirectorLewSeptember20,2011Pagetwo"HiAneesh!..
.I
touchedbasewithmyclientSanjivAhujaandheexpressedaninterestinmeetingwithyou...HeisgoingtobeinDCnextweekforafundraisingdinnerwiththePresident."
[AttachmentA]
Inanothere-mailthesameday,HenryGoldberg,aLightSquaredlawyerwrotetoJamesKohlenberger,chiefofstafffortheWhiteHouseOfficeofScienceandTechnologyPolicy:"YoumayrecallthatyoumetwithSanjivAhujaaboutayearago,withPhilFalconeofHarbinger,asPhil&Sanjivwerefinalizingtheirplansforanewwirelessbroadbandnetwork:..Sanjivwillbeatfund-raiserdinnerwiththePresidentonSeptember30andwouldliketovisitwithyou,perhapsTomKalil,andAneeshChopra,ifitisatallpossible."
[AttachmentB]
Bothe-mailsreferencetheattendanceoftheCEOatafundraiserforthePresident.Asfurtherevidenceofquestionabletiming,aboutayearprior,Mr.PhilipFalcone,themajorityownerofLightSquared,andMr.Ahuja,metwithMr.KohlenbergeronSeptember22,2009.Aboutaweekafterthatmeeting,Mr.Falconeandhiswifeeachdonated$30,400totheDemocraticSenatorialCampaignCommittee.'Whilesomemaycallitacoincidence,weremainskepticalthatshortlyaftertwoseparatesetsofmeetingsandmeetingrequestsoneyearapart,LightSquaredemployeesmadefive-figuredonationstotheDemocraticParty.TamperingwithTestimonyOnSeptember15,aHouseArmedServicesSubcommitteehearing"onthenationalsecurityimplicationsoftheLightSquaredproposalincludedtestimonyfromGeneralWilliamShelton,CommanderofAirForceSpaceCommand.Inhiswrittentestimony,GeneralSheltonsummarizedhisconcernsaboutLightSquaredbystating,"[T]hetestdatacollectedbyDoD,civilagencies,GPSindustrypartners,GPSreceivermanufacturers,andGPSserviceprovidersallindicatetheLightSquaredterrestrialnetworkoperatingintheoriginallyproposedmannerposessignificantchallengesforalmostallGPSusers.t"..Inaclassifiedbriefingpriortothehearing,mediareportsindicatethat"pressedbymembers,Gen.WilliamSheltonsaidtheWhiteHousetriedtopressurehimtochangehistestimonytomakeitmorefavorabletoacompanytiedtoalargeDemocraticdonor.t"
3
Ibid.
4
HouseArmedServicesSubcommitteeonStrategicForces,
"SustainingGPSjorNationalSecurity,"
September15,2011(hereinafterHouseArmedServicesSubcommitteeHearing)
5~d.
6
EliLake,"WhiteHousePressureforaDonor?"TheDailyBeast,September15,2011(hereinafterLakeArticle)
 
DirectorLewSeptember20,2011Pagethree
Accordingtothearticle,notonlywastheGeneral'stestimonyleakedtoLightSquaredpriortothehearing,but:
"[T]heWhiteHouseaskedthegeneraltoalterthetestimonytoaddtwopoints:thatthegeneralsupportedtheWhiteHousepolicytoaddmorebroadbandforcommercialuse;andthatthePentagonwouldtrytoresolvethequestionsaroundLightSquaredwithtestinginjust90days.Sheltonchafedattheintervention,whichseemedtosoftenthePentagon'spositionandmightbeviewedashelpingthecompanyasittriestogettheprojectlaunched.?'
AlthoughweunderstandthatOMBroutinelyreviewstestimonypresentedbyAdministrationofficialstoCongress,thefactthatafour-starAirForceGeneralwas"chafed"bythesuggestionsmadeinthiscaseraisesconcernsabouttheappropriatenessoftheWhiteHouse'ssuggestions.TheseconcernsarefurtherenhancedbyourobservationofidenticallanguageintheconclusionportionofAdministrationwitnesses'writtentestimoniessubmittedtoourCommitteeforourSeptember8LightSquaredHearing.
8
Thelanguage,whichspecifiesitreflects
the
Administration'sview,softenstheotherwisebluntassessmentsthatwerearticulatedduringthehearing..WewerealsotroubledtonoteasoftertonetowardtheLightSquaredprojectintheAdministrationofficials'writtentestimonieswhencomparedtothetechnicalassessmentstheysubmittedtoNTIA.Specifically,theDepartmentofTransportationofficialmadenoreferenceinhiswrittentestimonyforourSeptember8hearingabouthow"GPSsafetyenhancementsare
)
.
expectedtopreventthelossofapproximately800livesoverthenext10years,withanestimatedpublicsafetybenefitofabout$5billion.,,9.SugarcoatingtestimonyovercriticalmattersthatincludethelivesofAmericansisirresponsible,andinevitablyraisesquestionsabouttheAdministration'spriorities.MuzzlingOfficialsMediareportsalsoraiseconcernsthattheallegationsinvolvingGeneralSheltonandhistestimony,alongwiththefingerprintsoftheWhiteHouseonthewrittentestimoniessubmittedforourCommitteehearing,maybetheruleandnottheexceptionrelativetotheAdministration'ssupportforLightSquared.Asonestoryreports;.
"AccordingtoWashingtonsourcesfamiliarwiththecomplexpoliticalwrangling,theWhiteHouse-towhichtheNTIAreportsinmattersofspectrumallocation-istryingtokeepdiscussionanddecisionmakingabouttheissuebehindcloseddoors.'Guidance
7
Ibid.
8
SSTHearing,
supra,
note1
9
LetterfromMr.JoelSzabatofDOTtoMr.KarlNebbiaatNTIA,July21,2011

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