Darrell Castle reports on an espionage scandal involving information technology professionals working for several Democrat members of the U.S. Congress.
Transcript / Notes
THE IT SCANDAL IN THE DEMOCRAT PARTY
Hello this is Darrell Castle with today’s Castle Report. Today is Friday August 11, 2017, and on today’s report I will be talking about another scandal in Congress – this one apparently limited solely to Democrat members of Congress and their employees. I will admit that I struggled with what to call this report. Should I call it the Awan scandal, the Democrat espionage scandal, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz scandal, but I wanted to be fair and not say anything untrue or at least explain that these things are still, hopefully, under investigation and therefore as yet unproven. Some of the things in this report are so obvious that most people will have no trouble seeing that there is something very wrong in Congress, particularly on the Democrat side since this scandal is apparently limited exclusively to them.
Another interesting thing about this scandal is that it is being reported almost exclusively by conservative web sites and news services. Let’s take short look at what this scandal really is, and what brought it to this stage. Starting with one person in about 2003 (but the whole family in 2009), several Democrat members of Congress, at least 49 but up to 80 of them, hired five members of a Pakistani family to do their IT or Information Technology work. The leader of the decision to hire them was a member of Congress from Florida, and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
These five Pakistanis were paid at least 4 million dollars, and possibly a lot more, for their services over that period. The investigation into their activities started, it seems, about four months ago. The conservative website The Daily Caller has been out front with reporting on this so I will quote the site for a summary, “Five members of a Pakistani family under criminal investigation for allegedly misusing their positions as computer administrators for dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives were paid at least $4 million from July 2009 to the present…some of the dozens of House democrats—many of whom serve on the intelligence, homeland security and foreign affairs committees—who employed the suspects were inexplicitly paying people they rarely or never saw. The suspects had full access to the emails and office computer files of the members for whom they worked.”
The names are Imran Awan, the leader, his brothers Amid, and Jawal, Imran’s wife Hina Alvi, Amid’s wife Nataliva Sova, who is probably Russian, plus Imran’s friend Rao Abbas who is 20 years old and his last job before Congress was at McDonald’s, a job from which he was fired. Rao Abbas was paid $165,000 per year. All these people were paid enormous salaries especially considering what members of Congress actually make and what congressional staffers normally make.
On Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano referred to the group as “the Awan Spy Ring.” He said they had access to the emails and computer files of every single member of Congress – Democrat and Republican – and was selling what they found. He did not say who they were selling to but they have been connected to Pakistani Intelligence (the ISI), Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other terrorist or terrorist-supporting organizations.
One of the allegations is that these people, who were not particularly highly skilled, were paid millions because of the information they found on congressional computers i.e. bribes. If that is so, it would explain a lot of what appears to be the insanity of Congress but is in reality acquiesces to bribery. This scheme or hiring plan, if you will, was apparently concocted by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the congresswoman from Florida. From 2011 until 2016, she was the chair of the Democrat National Committee. She originally hired Imran Awan in 2003. When the Capitol police briefed members of Congress that Imran was under investigation, they fired him—all except Ms. Schultz who kept him for five more months. She avoided the “no staffers under investigation for espionage rule” by making him an “advisor”.
Imran’s family had apparently already fled to Pakistan and he was arrested at Dulles Airport trying to board a plane for Pakistan via Qatar. His arrest was not for espionage however, it was for some form of bank fraud supposedly for forging his wife’s name on bank transfers of $283,000 from the Congressional Credit Union to Pakistan. The Capitol Police and FBI are obviously just trying to prevent his fleeing the country. His passport was taken and he was released but required to wear a monitor.
I’ve used the word apparently, supposedly, and allegedly a lot in this report because this investigation is just getting under way but let’s look at some things we actually do know right now.
- Awan was arrested after wiring $283,000 from the Congressional federal Credit Union to Pakistan. He was charged with lying on a loan application for part of the money.
- He along with his wife and several relatives were on the Congressional Democrat payroll as IT professionals. Together they received at least $4 million in taxpayer funds.
- Awan was a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, born to Iranian parents. He had access to the emails and files of many members of Congress including Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ s personal iPad password, with which she conducted DNC business.
- During a public hearing about the theft of IT equipment from Congressional offices, Ms. Schultz pressured the Capitol Police for the return of the equip they had confiscated from the Awans despite the pending investigation. Though his access to the congressional computer system was revoked in February 2017 by the Capitol Police she kept him on staff as an advisor with full access until he was finally arrested.
- He is represented by the law firm of Gowen, Rhodes, Winigrad & Silva, which began a campaign of criticism calling his arrest Islamaphobia, anti-Muslim prejudice, etc., etc. A frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry they said. That firm is an old Clinton firm, having represented the Clintons on many occasions. Schultz has been avoiding direct questions but her office released a statement citing ethnic and religious profiling as the cause.
- The hard drives seized by the FBI at Awans’ home taken from Congressional offices had been smashed. What was on them, if known, has not been publicly released. They also left hard drives and other congressional IT equipment in one of their homes, which they rented to a Marine Officer. He reported it and said basically that if he had done such a thing he would be thrown in prison for a long, long time.
- Awan is accused of funneling sensitive congressional data offsite in a massive cyber-security breach. In other words, assume our enemies know everything and have everything.
- The salaries of all these “IT professionals” far exceeded i.e. 3 or 4 times the salary of normal IT professionals even though their qualifications were less or non-existent.
Who knows where all this will go? 80 Congressional offices were open to this family who sent the contents of the computers of members of highly sensitive congressional committees offsite. The Democrats seem very concerned about Cyber security “the Russians hacked the election” and all that, so we will see where it goes. Maybe the little fish will be caught but the big fish are often lost off the hook.
The result, if that happens, if they get away with it, will be catastrophic for the rule of law. When the rule of law is not respected you are in Banana Republic company.
Finally folks, I’ve left out a lot because of time, such as, Awan owing large amounts of money to terrorists or terrorist connected people, receiving hundreds of thousands in loans to start a car business which then failed, and all that’s connected with those things. This is an example of what I’m fond of saying to Joan, i.e. it’s worse than you think.
Is there an honest person left in Congress or in the FBI? Time will tell.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Until next time folks,
This is Darrell Castle,
Thanks for listening.