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Awan Funneling ‘Massive’ Data Off Congressional Server, Dems Claim It’s Child’s HOMEWORK
7:20 PM 09/26/2017
Democratic congressional aides made unauthorized access to a House server 5,400 times and funneled “massive” amounts of data off of it. But there’s nothing to see here, Democrats told The Washington Post: They were just storing and then re-downloading homework assignments for Imran Awan’s elementary-school aged kids and family pictures.
A congressional source with direct knowledge of the incident contradicted the Post’s account, saying that now-indicted IT aide Imran Awan and his associates “were moving terabytes off-site so they could quote ‘work on the files’” and that they desperately tried to hide what was on the server when caught, providing police with what law enforcement immediately recognized as falsified evidence and an indication of criminal intent.‘’
WATCH ROSIAK’S REPORTING ON AWAN CASE SO FAR on the embedded video at the link
A terabyte is a million megabytes; a terabit is about one-tenth of that. Awan’s three children are in elementary school or younger. A book report in Word document format could clock in at under a megabyte, even if it were 100 pages long. To fill a terabyte with family photos, a person would need 250,000 photos.
Rules aside, there would be little reason for a staffer to upload his children’s homework and family photos to a congressman’s server. For one, cloud services such as Google Drive and Google Photos readily provide that functionality, with a web interface. The congressional computer was a server with no monitor, so you couldn’t view the photos on it, and they had to have been uploaded onto it by another computer. It makes little sense that Awan would upload personal data from a home computer onto a House server only to re-download it.
Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, was the sole person that was supposed to be authorizing the Caucus server, and she could have uploaded pictures of her children without attracting attention.
Yet she accessed it only 300 times as part of her job, while other people — including Awan’s two brothers and his friend Rao Abbas — accessed it 5,400 times. It’s unclear why extended family and friends would be uploading Awan’s kids’ homework and pictures more than their own mother would.
The Post did not note the “massive” outgoing data and unauthorized access until the 40th and 42nd paragraphs of its story, after it had quoted multiple defense attorneys and ventured into a lengthy and seemingly irrelevant but humanizing backstory on Awan’s childhood.
Its print headline was “Evidence Far Exceeds Intrigue” in the probe, yet it quoted only a congressional staffer who, TheDCNF’s congressional source said, would not have been able to make assurances that there was nothing to the criminal investigation, because Congress has been fire walled from the criminal probe since it was turned over.
The Post also did not specify that data was also being backed up online via unofficial Dropbox accounts. Wasserman Schultz has acknowledged that the accounts were used for congressional data, and that she has used the service in violation of House rules “for years.”
The server was under the auspices of Xavier Becerra, who left Congress Jan. 24 to become California attorney general and asked for the server to be wiped at that time. Police first asked for a copy and received what they identified as an elaborately falsified image, leading police to ban them from the network immediately because they viewed it as an attempt to tamper with a criminal investigation and an indication of clear criminal intent, TheDCNF reported before the Post story ran. The Awans were banned from the House network Feb. 2.
The Post reported:
By midsummer , with the approval of the House Administration Committee, the Inspector General’s Office was tracking the five employees’ logins. In October, they found “massive” amounts of data flowing from the networks they were accessing, raising the possibility that an automated program was vacuuming up information, according to a senior House official familiar with the probe. Initially, investigators could not see precisely what kind of data was moving off the server due to legal protections afforded by the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause, which shields lawmakers’ deliberations from investigators’ eyes. Investigators found that the five IT employees had logged on at one server for the Democratic Caucus more than 5,700 times over a seven-month period, according to documents reviewed by The Post. Alvi, the only one of the five who was authorized to access that server, accounted for fewer than 300 of those logins, documents show.
The invocation of “speech and debate” suggests that Democrats barred law enforcement from looking at the apparent data breach. The Post — which has highlighted the importance of cybersecurity and the intolerability of hacks on government — suggested finding any of this odd would be “unfounded conspiracy theories and intrigue.”
Yet, according to a senior congressional official familiar with the probe, criminal investigators have found no evidence that the IT workers had any connection to a foreign government. Investigators looking for clues about espionage instead found that the workers were using one congressional server as if it were their home computer, storing personal information such as children’s homework and family photos, the official said.
There are indications that Awan is less than a doting family man, and that he would use his congressional position for ill. Three women have called police on him in the last three years. One is his stepmother, Samina Gilani, who said she was kept “in captivity.” In court documents, she alleged: “Imran Awan threatened that he is very powerful and if I ever call the police [he] will do harm to me and my family members back in Pakistan and one of my cousins here in Baltimore … Imran Awan did admit to me that my phone is tapped and there are devices installed in my house to listen my all conversations … Imran Awan introduces himself as someone from U.S. Congress or someone from federal agencies.”
A second told police she felt “like a slave,” and a third said she “just wanted to leave.” The latter two were apparently in romantic relationships with Awan, who lived in small apartments in Alexandria, Va. that he paid for while he lived with his wife.
Awan began selling off many of the multiple houses that his family owns around the time he learned he was subject of the cybersecurity probe, and wired money to Pakistan, resulting in Awan and his wife being indicted for bank fraud.
The Post confirmed that Democratic IT aides had no experience, such as Rao Abbas, who worked at McDonald’s. But it did not mention that an Iraqi politician tied to Hezbollah sent $100,000 to a company the family set up while working for Congress, and that Awan had a secret account unknown to authorities, email@example.com, that was tied to the name of an intelligence specialist working for Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana. The intelligence specialist denies knowing anything about the account.
Imran Awan: A Continuing DCNF Investigative Group Series
Where are all those congressional emails?
PHILIP GIRALDI • SEPTEMBER 26, 2017
I wrote an article on the strange case of Imran Awan about two months ago. To summarize it briefly, Awan, his two brothers and wife, naturalized U.S. citizens born in Pakistan living in the Washington DC area, found employment as IT administrators in the House of Representatives working for as many as 80 Democratic Party congressmen. Even though they may have had little actual training in IT, they insinuated themselves into the system and were paid in excess of $5 million over the course of ten years, chief-of-staff level pay, while frequently not even showing up for work. They even brought into the arrangement a frequent no-show Pakistani friend whose prior work history consisted of getting recently fired by McDonald’s.
Along the way, their security files were never reviewed. They were involved in bankruptcies, bank fraud and other criminal activity, but their troublesome behavior was never noticed. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, which including forging a document to cheat their step-mother of an insurance payment and even holding her “captive” so she could not see their dying father. Their father even changed his last name to dissociate himself from them.
Imran Awan, the leader of the group, worked particularly for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was, at the time, also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Though he had no clearance and was not supposed to work with classified material, he and his family obtained password access to congressional files and Imran himself was able to enter Wasserman-Schultz’s own personal iPad computer which linked to the server used by the Democratic National Committee.
As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion by the Capitol Hill Police for having set up an operation involving double billing as well as the possible theft and reselling of government owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. It was also believed that Imran sent “massive” quantities of stolen government files to a remote personal server. It may have been located in his former residence in Lorton, Virginia. The police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.
Imran was arrested on July 25th at Dulles Airport as he was flying to Pakistan to join his wife Alvi, who had left the country with their children and many of their possessions in March. In January, they had also wired to Pakistan $283,000 that they had obtained fraudulently from the Congressional credit union. After his arrest, Imran was defended by lawyer Chris Gowen, a high-priced $1,000 an hour Washington attorney who has worked for the Clintons personally, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
There are many questions regarding the Awan case. One might reasonably ask how foreign-born IT specialists are selected and vetted prior to being significantly overpaid and allowed to work on computers in congressional offices. And the ability of those same individuals to keep working even after the relevant congressmen have been warned that their employee was under investigation has to be explained beyond Wasserman-Schultz’s comment that Awan had not committed any crime, which may have been true but one would expect congressmen to err on the side of caution over an issue that could easily have national security ramifications. And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced Clinton-connected lawyer to defend himself?
As the story involves possible espionage, fraud and even something new to consider regarding the theft of information from the DNC server, one might have expected the Fourth Estate to wake from its slumber and take notice. But perhaps not surprisingly there has been astonishingly little follow-up in the mainstream media about the Awan family, possibly because it involves some leading Democrats, though the Daily Caller and some other conservative sites have stayed on top of developments.
Since his arrest Imran Awan has had his passports confiscated by the court and has been released on bail on condition that he wear an ankle monitor at all times and not travel more than 50 miles from the Virginia home where he is staying with a relative. In early September, he sought to have the monitor removed and his passports returned so he could travel to Pakistan and visit his children. His plea was rejected. He is not yet scheduled for trial on the allegations of bank fraud and is apparently still under investigation by the Bureau relating to other possible charges, including possible espionage. His four accomplices are also still under investigation but have not been charged. They are on a watch list and will not be allowed to leave the United States while the inquiry is continuing.
It has also been learned that Imran had been on the receiving end of complaints filed with the Fairfax County Virginia police in 2015-6 by two women who resided in separate apartments in Alexandria that are reportedly paid for by Imran Awan. Both of the women complained of abuse and one is believed to be a “second wife” for Imran Awan, legal in Pakistan but illegal in the United States. Imran reportedly divorced his second wife shortly after his arrest.
In a surprise development, investigative journalists have also determined that Imran Awan retained as of the end of August a still-active secret, numeric email account on the House of Representatives server. E-mail accounts in Congress normally are labeled using the holder’s name, so all active accounts are identity-linked as a security measure. In this case the numeric account was linked to the actual account of a House staffer who works on national security issues for Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana. Imran Awan clearly has been using the anonymous House of Representatives address as it was cited in a suit filed by a landlord seeking unpaid rent on an apartment rented for his second wife in Alexandria.
The most significant recent development in the Awan case is, however, the decision made by Imran’s wife Alvi to return to the United States at the end of this month. She has been charged as a co-conspirator relating to the bank fraud that her husband was also involved in, which potentially could result in some jail time. There are, however, reports that she has been interviewed several times in Pakistan by FBI agents and has apparently agreed to a plea bargain to tell all she knows about what went on with the Awan family. Some on Capitol Hill believe that what she knows could prove to be explosive, not only regarding the lax security practices in Congress but also in terms of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s negligence in providing access to the DNC server. The actual whereabouts of the large quantity of stolen government documents might also be resolved.
This story, which is still unfolding, continues to have the potential to blow wide open the complacent culture on Capitol Hill and it also might ruin the reputations of a number of leading Democrats. Stay tuned!
“… Via Judicial Watch:
Judicial Watch announced today that a federal judge will personally review, in camera, redacted material from emails discussing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of iPads and iPhones during her tenure at the State Department.
Judge Kollar-Kotelly also ordered the State Department to file an affidavit addressing why it should not have to search new Clinton emails recovered. In taking these steps, the court rejected arguments by the Tillerson State Department and its lawyers at the Sessions Justice Department.
The court will review the blacked-out information so as to better ascertain whether the government misconduct exception would require the release of the full emails. Generally speaking, the government misconduct exception prevents government agencies from withholding information that would shed light on government wrongdoing under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton had this to say of having to fight Sessions’ DOJ for information on Hillary’s emails:
“Hillary Clinton knowingly used an unsecure email system and risky iPads and smartphones to conduct classified and sensitive government business. It is frankly outrageous that Secretary Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions allow their agencies to cover up for and defend Hillary Clinton’s scandalous and potentially criminal conduct.”
As previously reported Sessions’ DOJ is blocking Judicial Watch from Hillary’s emails just like the previous administration did.
“The Trump State Department and the Trump Justice Department sent the same lawyers into this judge to make the same arguments that had been made for four years during the Obama years, that we’ve already searched and we are not going to search anymore,” Judge Napolitano said during an appearance on FOX Business.
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the State Department didn’t do enough to investigate areas of email between Hillary Clinton and her personal aides.
“There has been no substantial change whatsoever in the Rex Tillerson State Department or the Jeff Sessions Justice Department about Mrs. Clinton’s emails and an Obama appointee to the bench said, ‘I’m not buying this argument, you’re going to look for those emails.’ This is the world turned upside down,” he said…..”
A company whose president is “best friends” with Chelsea Clinton received more than $11 million in contracts over the last decade from a highly secretive Department of Defense think tank, but to date, the group lacks official federal approval to handle classified materials, according to sensitive documents TheDCNF was allowed to review.
Jacqueline Newmyer, the president of a company called the Long Term Strategy Group, has over the last 10 years received numerous Defense Department contracts from a secretive think tank called Office of Net Assessment.
The Office of Net Assessment is so sensitive, the specialized think tank is housed in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and reports directly to the secretary.
Read more: www.whatreallyhappened.com