From: wnd.com, by Garth Kant, on Jun 29, 2017, Please note that the bold emphasis is mine in the following post. Garnet92.
WASHINGTON – One of the most bizarre spectacles in Washington is flying almost completely under the radar, even though much of it is playing out in public.
And, it begs one simple question:
Is someone blackmailing one of the top members of Congress in plain sight?
It’s a question that demands to be asked, given the basic known facts.
Democratic bigwig Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., has become the central figure in two major computer hacking scandals, but she has responded to the incidents in completely opposite ways.
When WikiLeaks published 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, on July 22, 2016, Wasserman Schultz resigned as the group’s chair two days later, the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention.
She didn’t really have much choice.
- The emails revealing DNC leaders conspired to sabotage the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders to secure the nomination of Hillary Clinton was an embarrassing political disaster.
- Thousands of Sanders supporters were marching in the streets of Philadelphia demanding her resignation as DNC chair.
- Wasserman Schultz was told to resign by then-President Obama, according to CNN.
In that first hacking scandal, Wasserman Schultz simply resigned. In her own hacking scandal, she has shown all the signs of stonewalling.
With evidence piling up that her own congressional office computer was hacked, Wasserman Schultz has:
- Refused to fire the suspect;
- Given him a new title and kept him on her payroll;
- Apparently allowed him to continue access to her computer system;
- Demanded Capitol Police return her laptop, a key piece of evidence in a criminal investigation;
- Seemingly threatened to cut the department’s budget if it did not comply;
- Admitted to violating official information security policy, but she blamed the House’s chief administrative officer for not stopping her.
Her behavior is so extraordinary, it would seem to raise a question as to whether she is even trying to obstruct justice.
Why would she take such risks?
And why would she protect the person who is accused of victimizing her?
The suspect had access to any and all of the sensitive, and/or confidential, information in her congressional computer system, including any material that could be politically embarrassing, as was the case with the DNC emails.
If the hack were to put her career on the line, she may have nothing to lose by trying to bury the case.
But there’s another salient factor to consider.
The key suspect had what cyber-security experts consider numerous red flags indicating a potential blackmailer.
The secret scandal
Conservatives are frustrated that the scandal has received virtually no national attention and has been ignored by the major media.
Politico, BuzzFeed News, and WND have covered the story, while the Daily Caller has devoted an investigative team to digging up details for months.
When the story broke five months ago, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called for a congressional investigation, saying, “The facts regarding technology procurement and potentially illegal violations of the House IT network by several Democratic staffers are very concerning.”
But as far as is publicly known. soon-to-retire Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, never did launch an investigation.
And, as even more damning and bizarre revelations began piling up, the national media kept turning a blind eye to the story.
These are the basic facts of the case.
In early February, three brothers and two of their wives who managed information technology, or IT, for some 80 Democratic lawmakers were relieved of their duties and barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives.
Not all of the lawmakers required full-time IT services, so the brothers worked as shared employees, and the offices split their salaries. It was up to each lawmaker to decide whether to fire them.
The brothers and their associates are now under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police, which is getting expert technical assistance, presumably from the FBI.
The criminal investigation actually began in late 2016, with the brothers under suspicion of secretly accessing the lawmaker’s computer networks, storing information on secret servers, and stealing equipment from Congress.
The IT techs were employed by three members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which store sensitive national security documents, including material related to terrorism, on their own committee servers.
Representatives for the two committees said those systems are sealed off from the lawmakers’ own office computer systems, they have their own IT staff and security measures, and that officials are confident no sensitive material was taken from committee servers.
In theory, at least, it was technically not impossible for a lawmaker to have transferred classified material from committee servers by merely remembering it and then typing it up on his or her own office computer. However, as that would be illegal and even potentially treasonous, any lawmaker would be taking a substantial risk by doing so.
Still, there is one additional odd detail that makes the case all the more peculiar: The IT workers under investigation are Muslims and Pakistani nationals.
Meet the Awans
Imran Awan has worked for Wasserman Schultz since 2005, the year she became the congressional representative from Florida’s 23rd district.
Imran and his wife, Hina Alvi, are personal friends with the congresswoman, according to multiple sources.
Imran has “unusual clout among House Democrats,” according to the Daily Caller, and he has been photographed with former President Bill Clinton.
Payroll records show that soon after Wasserman Shultz hired Imran, other House Democrats hired him, his wife, his two brothers Abid and Jamal, and his brother’s wife, Natalia Sova, as IT workers. (From Ukraine, Sova is the only one of the group who is not a Pakistani national.)
Public records show Imran was paid $165,000 a year; Abid made $161,000; Jamal, Hina Alvi and Natalia Sova earned $160,000 each.
Those salaries are comparable to what top House aides such as chiefs of staff earn, not IT workers. Why these computer technicians made such exorbitant salaries has never been explained by their Democratic employers.
In fact, $160,000 a year is three times the average House IT staff salary, according to InsideGov, which lists the median salary for legislative assistants as $43,000 annually.
Since they began working for the government, the family members have made $5 million overall, according to Legistorm.com.
Imran has been paid $2 million and Abid $1.5 million.
Only 100 of the 25,000 people who have worked in the House since 2010 have made more than Imran.
But, despite all that income, the Awans have had persistent money problems, including huge debts. Imran’s wife took out multiple second mortgages.
House staffers told the Daily Caller that Imran (and, recently, Jamal) did the bulk of the work and the others were rarely seen on Capitol Hill.
The staffers alleged the no-show workers were only on the payroll to collect three more big salaries and to get around a rule that prevents aides from making larger salaries than members of Congress.
Imran arrived on Capitol Hill in the early 2000s, and Abid joined him in 2005. Alvi was put on the congressional payroll in 2007 and Sova in 2011. Jamal was added in 2014.
It’s not clear how many of them are now suspects in a criminal case and a cyber-security investigation into whether sensitive congressional information was compromised, as well as the possible theft of money and equipment.
Most Democrats apparently fired the four after the investigation was announced in February.
Wasserman Shultz has refused to fire Imran, and she has given him a new title of “adviser” to get around his ban from the House computer network imposed by Capitol Police since Feb. 2.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-NY, who is also reported to be friends with Imran and his wife, has also refused to fire Imran.
Meeks blamed the investigation on Islamophobia and said: “their background as Muslim Americans, some with ties to Pakistan, could make them easy targets for false charges.”
‘These are very bad people’
Someone who knows the Awan brothers disagrees.
A relative of the brothers’ stepmother, Samina Galani, said she has spoken out against the Awans because “I am fighting to protect the country. These are very bad people.”
And she says she’s speaking out because she believes lawmakers have tried to limit the investigation and downplay any crimes.
The relative said the brothers threatened Galani (identified sometimes as Gilani) with violence and held her in virtual captivity from Oct. 16, 2016, to Feb. 2, which was, perhaps not coincidentally, the day the Capitol Police announced the investigation of the Awans.
According to court documents filed April 14 in Fairfax County, Virginia, Galani claimed the Awan brothers warned her not to talk to U.S. law-enforcement authorities and demanded she gives them access to assets belonging to their dying father, Muhammad Shah, her husband of eight years.
The relative said they used high-tech listening devices to ensure Galani’s compliance and repeated her private conversations back to her to prove she was being monitored.
The relative urged Galani to get a secret cell phone. Galani called police in Fairfax County, Virginia, just before the House investigation became public.
The police report obtained by the Daily Caller said Galani claimed the brothers were denying her access to her dying husband and scheming to get his life insurance by forcing her to give them power of attorney.
“I made contact with her stepson, Abid, who responded to the location and was obviously upset with the situation. He stated he has full power of attorney over his father and produced an unsigned, undated document as proof,” said the police report. “He refused to disclose his father’s location.”
Galani’s relative said Abid then “threatened her very severely, made her fearful, they told her they are going to abduct or kidnap her family back in Pakistan, and she had to apologize.”
The court documents show Galani, herself, said, “Imran Awan threatened that he is very powerful, and if I ever call the police again, [he] will … kidnap my family members back in Pakistan.”
The relative said a life-insurance executive told Galani, “a few days before the father’s death, the beneficiary was changed and Abid became the beneficiary.”
The Daily Caller reported Galani escaped from the brothers and filed a second police complaint with Fairfax County for insurance fraud and other abuses.
In the court documents, Galani said Imran portrays himself abroad as a powerful person in Congress and travels with a VIP police escort in Pakistan, because of what he describes as his political power in the U.S.
In May, Imran’s wife, Hina, who may be a criminal suspect in the House hacking investigation, fled to Pakistan where she reportedly has “significant assets and VIP-level protection.”
Despite Meeks’ suggestion that the Awans are being investigated because of Islamophobia, it’s not their first brush with the law.
Abid was convicted of drunken driving one month before he started his job at the House. He was arrested for public intoxication a month after his first day.
His record also includes driving with a suspended or revoked license.
Imran has also been convicted of criminal misdemeanors, using an illegal radar detector and driving an unregistered vehicle.
While earning $161,000 a year since 2005 for a House job where he was rarely seen, Abid appeared to spend most of his time running a car dealership that went bankrupt.
Abid listed $1 million in liabilities in his 2012 bankruptcy.
He managed to keep ownership of two houses by telling the court that he and his estranged wife, Soba, needed separate homes.
Before the business folded, a congressional credit union repossessed two of Abid’s personal cars. He owed the credit union $10,000, which was never repaid. Debts to numerous other small businesses and individuals also went unpaid.
In 2010, after just one year in business, Imran began running the floundering dealership, which was called Cars International A, LLC and referred to as “CIA” in court documents.
Imran forbade Abid to even to talk to anyone about the business.
Meanwhile, somehow, Imran was also working as a realtor, in addition to running the dealership and his attending to his House IT duties.
Abid’s one-time business partner, Nasir Khattak, said the dealership’s finances involved bizarre and complicated transfers, including the swapping of staff and cars with a dealership next door.
“It was very bad record-keeping in Cars International … it is close to impossible to make any sense out of all the transactions that happened,” the Daily Caller found Khattak had said in court documents.
Those documents also showed business associates have accused Abid of stealing money and vehicles from them.
But perhaps the most bizarre – and suspicious – aspect of the House investigation occurred when a creditor who threatened to sue the Awans, Rao Abbas, suddenly appeared on the congressional payroll and ended up receiving $250,000 in taxpayer-financed salary through the end of 2016.
On top of all that, the Awans’ dealership was unable to repay a $100,000 loan to an Iraqi businessman, Dr. Ali Al-Attar, who has ties to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and fled to the Mideast to avoid prosecution for tax fraud in the U.S.
According to the Daily Caller, that loan was “funneled through a company with impossible-to-decipher financial transactions that the congressional information technology staffers controlled.”
If you think that this is bad, you “ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” It gets worse. If you’re like me, you ask yourself, how the hell does this go entirely unmentioned in the so-called media? Trump asks for Russian dressing for his salad and the media scream for an investigation, a special prosecutor, even impeachment because Trump said the word “Russian.”
But this whole thing stinks to high heaven and it’s almost certain that one (or more) of our “public servants” are being blackmailed – how else could this situation have festered to this extent unless one or more people with clout want to keep it secret? Methinks there’s foul play afoot.
This episode, Part 1, is only the first half of the story. It will be followed tomorrow (or the next day) by Part 2. If you’re anxious to know the whole story, you can simply click the link to wnd.com at the top of the post. It’ll take you to the original article where you can read all of the gory details.