The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.I've heard a lot about this LightSquared project from the aviation community via Flying Magazine. There's real concern that the 40,000 transmitters LightSquared wants to install around the country will in effect create 40,000 spots, each with a diameter of about 5-10 miles, in which GPS receivers will become unreliable or completely unusable. The problem is the frequency band LightSquared plans to use is too close to the frequency the low-powered GPS units use. Bottom line, your car GPS probably won't work in these 40,000 areas, and airplane GPS receivers, which are pretty much standard for aircraft navigation these days, will likewise be useless.
The episode—confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee—is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.
Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. Gen. Shelton was originally scheduled to testify Aug. 3 to a House committee that the project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities, which control automated driving directions and missile targeting, among other things. ...
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.
It's a terrible idea, but because they're big Dem donors...just like the guys at Solyndra who got $538 million in federal loan guarantees before they went bust... they're getting their way with Obama. And all this stuff is starting to hit the fan.