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Did the WH Pressure General to Change Testimony for Donor?

The Solyndra train wreck is hard to look away from, but there’s another White House scandal brewing that has the potential to be even more explosive. Eli Lake breaks the story of a 4-star Air Force general who was allegedly pressured by the White House to change testimony he was set to give to Congress, in order to appease a company owned by a major Democratic donor:

According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. 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. 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, the officials said.

“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) said in an interview. “The only people who were involved in the process in preparation for the hearing included the Department of Defense, the White House, and the Office of Management and Budget.”

From what we know so far, this could be even more damaging for the White House than Solyndra, for several reasons.

First, it could have undermined military capabilities. Gen. Shelton was supposed to testify that LightSquared’s wireless network interfered with military GPS – and this appears to be the part the White House allegedly wanted him to tone down. Second, this could potentially go beyond ethical issues, since pressuring somebody to lie under oath falls into legal territory.

Gen. Shelton testified before the House Armed Services Committee today, telling them that LightSquared’s broadband network does seriously interfere with military GPS. Whether this controversy gets investigated is up to Republicans in Congress, but I imagine several committees would be happy to take it up.