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troung
06 Jun 17,, 16:14
Wasserman Schultz Admits Hill IT Security Violations, Blames House Administrators For Not Stopping Her [VIDEO]

Luke Rosiak
Investigative Reporter

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose office equipment U.S. Capitol Police seized in a criminal investigation into congressional network security violations, admitted she violates official information security policy and blamed the House’s chief administrative officer for not stopping her.

In a May 17 appropriations hearing on Congress’ administrative budget, Wasserman Shultz said she had violated the policies “for years and years and years.” She also sought to find out how much House authorities might know about her internet usage, asking “Are members monitored?”

Police are investigating Wasserman Schultz’s longtime information technology (IT) aide Imran Awan for theft and funneling congressional data from members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on Homeland Security and Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Yet Wasserman Schultz lashed out at investigators and changed Awan’s title to “adviser” instead of firing him after House authorities banned him from the network. She resigned as Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman in July 2016 after unidentified hackers accessed the DNC’s emails, which Wikileaks later published.

“If a member is using an application outside of the House infrastructure and the protection of the, [of] our cybersecurity network, they’re in violation of House policy?” she asked John Ramsey, the House’s information security officer at the hearing on the legislative branch’s budget, in the previously unreported May 17 appropriations hearing.

“Of the House Policy 17, yes ma’am,” Ramsey responded.

“So Members are not supposed to be using Dropbox?” Wasserman Shultz asked.

“Not according to the policy,” Ramsey replied.

Wasserman Schultz then blamed House authorities for not stopping her and questioned their commitment to cybersecurity.

“I am more than happy to admit that I use Dropbox. I have used it for years and years and years. It is not blocked. I am fully able to use it,” she said.

“So there is a vulnerability in our network in spite of the fact that you say that you’ve taken steps to address it,” she continued. “And there is not enough of a — of a policy that — that applies across the board. And you need to make sure that you tighten up your rules and policies so that you can really take and assure us that you take seriously protecting our network.”

She then asked how much authorities might know about her computer activities.

“Are members monitored?” she asked. “Do, does the [chief administrative officer’s] office examine whether members are following these rules? How is it enforced?”

“And, you know, how do you make sure that, if you are concerned as you say you are about protecting the information on the House IT network, how are you actually enforcing that and making members aware” of the policy? she continued.

“I’m asking you how have you communicated with members of Congress about the use of outside applications and whether or not their usage of outside applications is compliant with the posted policy?”

Ramsey replied that his office communicates IT policy by notifying the IT aides working for congressional committees and individual members.

“When the policy came out, ma’am, we had sent some targeted communications out to the various IT systems administrators that service … the members,” Ramsey said.

The implication was that Awan withheld relevant information from his boss, causing her to violate policies. But instead of anger at a staffer’s failing, Wasserman Schultz attacked the notion of House authorities communicating about technology issues through members’ relevant staffers, calling it “just lobbing e-mail into a tech person’s inbox.”

“OK. Safe to say that you have not,” she said. “Wouldn’t you think that you would have a policy where you inform every single member and that we actually have a meeting with each member’s tech person so that you can inform them exactly what the rules are, what is allowable, what is not allowable?”

Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko responded that “we do inform every IT person, IT administrator in every congressional office. If that’s not enough …”

Using Dropbox an example of a commonly-used computer application, Wasserman Schultz’s question probed how storing data “outside of the House IT network” is treated as a matter of policy by authorities.

Imran Awan is suspected of funneling sensitive House data offsite onto secret servers wholesale, federal employees have said, which is a much broader breach but one that technically overlaps in some ways with how Dropbox works.

After Awan began working for Wasserman Schultz in 2005, three of his relatives, including a 20-year old brother, as well as his best friend, appeared on other House members’ payrolls at salaries on par with congressional salaries. They have collected $4 million since 2010 despite being rarely seen.

House authorities told members’ chiefs of staffs on Feb. 2 that the Awans were targets of a criminal probe, and other members fired them.

In the same May 17 hearing, Wasserman Schultz lamented that members didn’t have the maximum ability to exert pressure on the chief of the Capitol Police because he reports to an independent board. Not all of that board’s members report to the House Committee on Appropriations’ legislative subcommittee, of which she is one of eight members.

“We have had jurisdictional issues and a challenging time conducting oversight because of the structure of the Capitol Police Board and there — there being a (inaudible) line rather than a direct line to us in terms of being able to hold the board accountable,” she said.

“I’d like to know, sergeant, if you think that we should be looking at restructuring the way the board makes decisions so that we can establish a more direct line of accountability … At the end of the day, [the chief] doesn’t have a decision-making role,” Wasserman Shultz continued.

The unusual exchange may have been a setup to the congresswoman’s actions the next day at a hearing on the Capitol Police’s budget. After raising the specter of cutting its budget, she spent three minutes repeatedly demanding the return of a laptop that the chief explained is important to proving a criminal cybersecurity case. Nonetheless, she angrily insisted that it be turned over to her, saying there will be “consequences” if he does not relinquish the evidence.

“She uses her position on this subcommittee to threaten the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police,” Tim Canova, who ran against her in the Democratic primary for the House seat, wrote on a Facebook post. On the post, he demanded Wasserman Shultz “recuse herself from the House Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee on any matter dealing with the Capitol Police budget.”

Wasserman Schultz’s spokesman David Damron did not respond to questions.
http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/31/wasserman-schultz-admits-hill-it-security-violations-blames-house-administrators-for-not-stopping-her-video/



Wasserman Schultz Threatened Police Chief For Gathering Evidence On Her IT Staffer’s Alleged Crimes [VIDEO]
Luke Rosiak
Investigative Reporter

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite.

The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.

The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.

“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.

troung
26 Jul 17,, 17:36
Wasserman Schultz’s IT Aide Arrested At Airport After Transferring $300k To Pakistan From House Office

Luke Rosiak
Investigative Reporter
5:41 PM 07/25/2017

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s top information technology (IT) aide was arrested Monday attempting to board a flight to Pakistan after wiring $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to that country.

He attempted to leave the country hours after The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group revealed that he is the target of an FBI investigation, and the FBI apprehended him at the airport.

Credit union officials permitted the wire to go through, and his wife has already fled the country to Pakistan, after police confronted her at the airport and found $12,000 in cash hidden in her suitcase but did not stop her from boarding, court documents show.

“On January 18, 2017 at 12:09 pm, an international wire transfer request form was submitted [at the Congressional Federal Credit Union] at the Longworth House Office Building in the District of Columbia, in the amount of $283,000.00, to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan,” according to an affidavit obtained by TheDCNF.

Imran Awan, a Pakistani-born IT aide, had access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress, as well as the password to the iPad that Wasserman Schultz used for Democratic National Committee business before she resigned as its head in July 2016.

In March, his wife Hina Alvi, who also was on the House payroll, withdrew her children from school and left the country, the affidavit says. The Capitol Police confronted her at the airport but could not stop her. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted a search of Alvi’s bags immediately prior to her boarding the plane and located a total of $12,400.00 in U.S. cash inside. Alvi was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States,” the affidavit says. “Alvi had numerous pieces of luggage with her, including cardboard boxes… Your affiant does not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”

Soon after Imran began working for Wasserman Schultz in 2005, four of his relatives appeared on the payroll of other Democrats at inflated salaries, but Democratic staffers said they were rarely seen at work. They collected $4 million in taxpayer salaries since 2009.

House authorities told members in February that Imran and his relatives were suspects in a criminal investigation into theft and IT abuses, and they were banned from the Capitol network.

Wasserman Schultz has refused to fire Imran, despite being a known criminal suspect in a cybersecurity probe for months, and has blocked Capitol Police from searching a laptop they confiscated because it was tied to him.

TheDCNF reported Sunday night that the FBI had joined the investigation and seized smashed hard drives from Imran’s home. The next day, the FBI apprehended him at Dulles Airport after noticing that he had purchased a ticket to Pakistan, via Qatar.

The affidavit says he was charged with bank fraud involving fraudulently taking out mortgages, which was one of several financial schemes TheDCNF has detailed. It appears to be a placeholder for future charges, spurred because of the attempt to leave the country, and does not mention his work for Congress, which is the investigation’s primary focus.

As TheDCNF has reported, the Awans own numerous rental properties that often have multiple mortgages taken out on them, and they have told renters they want payments in untraceable ways. The charging documents say Imran’s wife Hina Alvi, who also made $165,000 working for House Democrats, took out a second mortgage against a house from the Congressional Federal Credit Union by falsely claiming it was her “principal residence” and that she will “occupy” the property, and also fraudulently reported no rental income on her taxes.

A renter told the FBI “they paid approximately $2,000 per month for rent and that the rent check was written to Suriaya Begum. Based on information and belief, I know that Begum is Alvia’s mother,” an FBI agent wrote.

The agent also said Imran appears to have applied for the loan in his wife’s name.

Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, have suggested that police had framed the Pakistani-born brothers out of Islamophobia. Yet his own stepmother, a devout Muslim, filed court documents accusing him of using high-tech devices to wiretap her and extorting her (see p. 23 of court documents in that case). A dozen people who have dealt with Imran painted a picture in interviews with TheDCNF of a charming, “cunning” extrovert who bragged about his power among Democratic officials and who seemed to have an unquenchable thirst for cash.

The affidavit also paints him as an overly confident con artist, saying he listed his House phone number when initiating the wire transfer, and pretended to be a woman — his wife — on the phone when a Congressional Federal Credit Union questioned the transfer. “The person answering the call, who was a male, pretended that he was Alvi. On the call, the [bank] representative asked the man to verify the address of where the wire was being sent and the purpose of the outgoing wire,” the document says.

Imran claimed the $300,000 was for “funeral arrangements.”

“The CFCU representative then stated that ‘funeral arrangements’ may not be an acceptable reason for the wire. The male speaking to the representative then responded that he would look online for an acceptable reason for the wire. After a long pause, the male said that the reason for the wire was ‘buying property.’ The representative accepted that reason and initiated the wire transfer to Pakistan.”

Fox News was first to report the arrest. TheDCNF has done 20 stories on the brothers since February — linked below — including reporting that Imran’s wife had fled.

Bill Miller, spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, told TheDCNF that Awan “was arraigned today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on one count of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1344. He pled not guilty and was released pursuant to a high-intensity supervision program. The conditions of release are that he receive a GPS monitor, he abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that he not leave a 50-mile radius of his residence in Virginia. Awan was also ordered to turn over all of his passports.”

Wasserman Schultz’s spokesman, David Damron, did not immediately return a request for comment.

See if your member of Congress is on the chart below. The Awan brothers could read all emails sent and received by these members, as well as all files on their staffers’ computers.
http://dailycaller.com/2017/07/25/wasserman-schultzs-it-aide-arrested-trying-to-flee-the-country/

troung
31 Jul 17,, 16:47
House Dem IT Suspects Wanted Untraceable Payments — And Sure Enough, Millions Disappeared

Luke Rosiak
Investigative Reporter
8:51 PM 07/05/2017

A Pakistani family under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police for abusing their access to the House of Representatives information technology (IT) system may have engaged in myriad other questionable schemes besides allegedly placing “ghost employees” on the congressional payroll.

Imran Awan, his wife Hina, and brothers Abid and Jamal collectively netted more than $4 million in salary as IT administrators for House Democrats between 2009 and 2017. Yet the absence of signs of wealth displayed among them raise questions such as was the money sent overseas or did something other than paychecks motivate their actions?

Capitol Police revoked the Awans’ access to the congressional IT system in February 2017 after a major data breach was detected. Their access had allowed them to read emails and files of dozens of members, including many serving on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

House Democrats have been nonchalant about the allegations, with some saying it was just a misunderstanding or the Capitol Police framed the Awans due to Islamophobia.

But official documents, court records and multiple interviews suggest the crew may have engaged in tax fraud, extortion, bankruptcy fraud and insurance fraud and the money could have been funneled overseas. Abid has hired high-profile attorney James Bacon who specializes in anti-money laundering litigation.

The Awans share modest homes, drive unremarkable cars and report little in the way of assets on congressional disclosures. The family owns significant amounts of Virginia rental properties, which are heavily financed, with second mortgages sometimes taken out. It’s unclear where the rental income goes because the Awans insist tenants pay in odd ways.

The Daily Caller News foundation interviewed multiple current and former tenants who said Imran insisted rent be paid in untraceable ways. Many of those TheDCNF interviewed about the Awans asked not to be identified for fear of suffering retaliation by the family, particularly renters to whose homes Imran has keys.

“He only wants cash — for the security deposit, everything. The mortgage is probably $600, we pay $1,800 a month,” one said.

“I would write the rent to all sorts of different people,” another claimed. While still another tenant said the family insisted on blank money orders.

Those interviewed also were puzzled that Congress kept the Awans on the payroll full-time when the family spent months of the year in Pakistan.

The four Awans were each making approximately $160,000 a year on Capitol Hill. Other House IT workers told TheDCNF that the Awans appeared to hold no-show jobs, with bare-bones services provided, and it appeared one person was doing the work for the rest of them.

Cristal Perpignan, a former Awan renter, said Imran instructed her to pay the rent to Imran’s friend, Rao Abbas, who lived in the basement of the home she occupied and was also on the House payroll as an IT worker. But Perpignan said Abbas spent his days at home.

Imran’s wife purchased the home in 2008 for $470,000. A second mortgage was taken out in 2012, and — at least on paper — it was sold to Imran’s 22-year old brother Jamal in November 2016 for $620,000 — $43,000 more than its assessed value.

All but five percent of Jamal’s purchase, $589,000, was financed by the bank, according to records reviewed by TheDCNF. This means the transaction netted the family $119,000 of the bank’s money even as the house remained a rental property, without the ownership ever leaving the family.

According to Wells Fargo, people can’t use a standard mortgage for a rental property. The bank must be told of the intent to use the property as a rental, and the applicant generally is required to make a 20 percent down payment. There are no notes in property records that it was not an arms-length sale.

While the Awans had access to the emails of members of sensitive congressional committees, Abid incorporated a car dealership in Falls Church, Va., with Nasir Khattek, who operated an established car dealership next door.

Khattek later said in sworn testimony that the Abid dealership’s financial books were a sham. Abid’s dealership received $100,000 from Ali Al-Attar, an Iraqi politician who practiced medicine in the Washington, D.C. region and is a fugitive from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The dealership racked up debts to people who subsequently accused Abid of fraud, according to court documents. Abid filed bankruptcy to discharge the debts, while his family members remained untouched. Khattek testified the dealership was run as a “family business,” with Imran, not Abid, in control.

As some of Capitol Hill’s highest-paid employees, the brothers had to submit financial disclosure statements to Congress, but Abid attested that he had no liabilities. Imran checked “no” when asked whether his spouse had any income, even though she was making a top salary from the same employer reviewing the disclosure documents.

The disclosures also ask about rental income, but the Awans often listed either no or little rent payments received.

Though people in bankruptcy procedures must sell off their assets to pay creditors, Abid kept two houses by swearing he was separated or divorcing from his wife and living apart. Years later, they are still together.

In January, as their father lay dying, the brothers tried to commandeer assets stored in his name, according to their stepmother, Samina Gilani. They installed listening devices in her house, plugged in a device behind her computer, and forbade her from leaving the house, she said in court documents and interviews. The brothers’ aim was to obtain a power of attorney giving them control of their father’s assets in Pakistan, their stepmother told TheDCNF.

“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,” Gilani said in court documents.

Days before their father died, the brothers badgered him to sign over assets as insignificant as a $5,000 car — assets they didn’t need, according to a relative. The relative speculated the goal was to make their father desperate enough to sign the Pakistani power of attorney, which would give them access to potentially sizable offshore bank accounts.

They also had their dying father sign a form making Abid administrator of his life insurance policy, though nothing about the change altered Gilani’s position as beneficiary.

However, Jamal falsely attested on the death certificate that his father was divorced, and Abid made himself beneficiary, leading to a lawsuit alleging life insurance fraud. Outside of the Fairfax County court during the case, Abid would say only that “people could harm me,” declining to explain what he meant.

The Capitol Police criminal investigation has gone on for months, but of more than a dozen people with ties to the Awans who were interviewed by TheDCNF, most have not been contacted by officials.

Among those investigators have not interviewed is Gilani, even though the brothers allegedly wiretapped and extorted her — behavior that could be highly relevant to the Capitol Hill probe.
http://dailycaller.com/2017/07/05/house-dem-it-suspects-wanted-untraceable-payments-and-sure-enough-millions-disappeared/?utm_campaign=atdailycaller&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social