The “Rest Of The Story” About The Imran Awan Scandal

The last time Ethics Alarms discussed Imran Awan was on August 11, 2017. Before we get to that, however, let me refresh your memory about the story, an example of the mainstream news media leaving the reporting of news damaging to Democrats to the so-called “conservative media,” so they could call the whole thing a fever dream of the Right.

Up to the moment he was arrested for bank fraud as he attempted to leave the country for Pakistan,  Imran Awan was being paid by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer (added immediately and shamelessly after having to resign after being revealed as leading the rigging of the nomination against Bernie Sanders and for Hillary), and hilariously dishonest spinner for Barack Obama for eight years, as her trusted IT employee.

Aswan’s wife, Hina Alvi, was also in the family business of being paid by Democrats. She had already fled the country with her three young daughters. The Awans  had fraudulenty acquired a $165,000 loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union, and sent it home to Pakistan. Aswan’s position with the DNC and Wasserman-Schultz had given him and his relatives in various Hill IT departments years of access to the e-mails and electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. They were at very least, the evidence shows, stealing computer equipment.

The Democrats fired all of the Awans except, oddly, for Awan himself, who stayed on Wasserman’s staff. The perpetually incompetent and shady Congresswoman kept him in a job that allowed access to the work product and communications of members of  United States Congress right up until he was arrested.

Asked Andrew McCarthy,

Why were they given access to highly sensitive government information? Ordinarily, that requires a security clearance, awarded only after a background check that peruses ties to foreign countries, associations with unsavory characters, and vulnerability to blackmail. These characters could not possibly have qualified. Never mind access; it’s hard to fathom how they retained their jobs…the [Aswans were] involved in various suspicious mortgage transfers. Abid Awan [Imran’s brother], while working “full-time” in Congress, ran a curious auto-retail business called “Cars International A” (yes, CIA), through which he was accused of stealing money and merchandise. In 2012, he discharged debts in bankruptcy (while scheming to keep his real-estate holdings). Congressional Democrats hired Abid despite his drunk-driving conviction a month before he started at the House, and they retained him despite his public-drunkenness arrest a month after. Beyond that, he and Imran both committed sundry vehicular offenses. In civil lawsuits, they are accused of life-insurance fraud. Congressional Democrats hired Abid despite his drunk-driving conviction a month before he started at the House, and they retained him despite his public-drunkenness arrest a month after. Democrats now say that any access to sensitive information was “unauthorized.”

But how hard could it have been to get “unauthorized” access when House Intelligence Committee Dems wanted their staffers to have unbounded access? In 2016, they wrote a letter to an appropriations subcommittee seeking funding so their staffers could obtain “Top Secret — Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearances. TS/SCI is the highest-level security classification. Awan family members were working for a number of the letter’s signatories. Democratic members, of course, would not make such a request without coordination with leadership. Did I mention that the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee to whom the letter was addressed was Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Why has the investigation taken so long? Why so little enforcement action until this week? Why, most of all, were Wasserman Schultz and her fellow Democrats so indulgent of the Awans?

The probe began in late 2016. In short order, the Awans clearly knew they were hot numbers. They started arranging the fraudulent credit-union loan in December, and the $283,000 wire transfer occurred on January 18. In early February, House security services informed representatives that the Awans were suspects in a criminal investigation. At some point, investigators found stolen equipment stashed in the Rayburn House Office Building, including a laptop that appears to belong to Wasserman Schultz and that Imran was using. Although the Awans were banned from the Capitol computer network, not only did Wasserman Schultz keep Imran on staff for several additional months, but [Representative Carrie] Meeks retained [ Awan’s wife] Alvi until February 28 — five days before she skedaddled to Lahore. Strange thing about that: On March 5, the FBI (along with the Capitol Police) got to Dulles Airport in time to stop Alvi before she embarked. It was discovered that she was carrying $12,400 in cash. As I pointed out this week, it is a felony to export more than $10,000 in currency from the U.S. without filing a currency transportation report. It seems certain that Alvi did not file one: In connection with her husband’s arrest this week, the FBI submitted to the court a complaint affidavit that describes Alvi’s flight but makes no mention of a currency transportation report. Yet far from making an arrest, agents permitted her to board the plane and leave the country, notwithstanding their stated belief that she has no intention of returning.

Many congressional staffers are convinced that they’d long ago have been in handcuffs if they pulled what the Awans are suspected of. Nevertheless, no arrests were made when the scandal became public in February. For months, Imran has been strolling around the Capitol. In the interim, Wasserman Schultz has been battling investigators: demanding the return of her laptop, invoking a constitutional privilege (under the speech-and-debate clause) to impede agents from searching it, and threatening the Capitol Police with “consequences” if they don’t relent. Only last week, according to Fox News, did she finally signal willingness to drop objections to a scan of the laptop by federal investigators. Her stridency in obstructing the investigation has been jarring.

As evidence has mounted, the scores of Democrats for whom the Awans worked have expressed no alarm. Instead, we’ve heard slanderous suspicions that the investigation is a product of — all together now — “Islamophobia.” … The Awans have had the opportunity to acquire communications and other information that could prove embarrassing, or worse, especially for the pols who hired them. Did the swindling staffers compromise members of Congress? Does blackmail explain why were they able to go unscathed for so long? And as for that sensitive information, did the Awans send American secrets, along with those hundreds of thousands of American dollars, to Pakistan?

Meanwhile, the New York Times was doing its part to advance the Axis of Unethical Conduct’s agenda by covering this as a Trump problem, in this hack job:: “Trump Fuels Intrigue Surrounding a Former I.T. Worker’s Arrest.”

In the last Ethics Alarms post about the Awan scandal, I wrote in part,

Continue reading

Regarding “Athlete A”….[Corrected!]

“Athlete A,” the Netflix documentary that tells the awful story of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s decades of sexually abusing young female gymnasts—perhaps as many as 500 of them—, how he was allowed to continue his crimes after complaints from parents and others, and the young women who finally sent him to prison with their testimony, is both disturbing and depressing. I watched it last night with my wife, who was horrified that she didn’t know the Nassar story.

Ethics Alarms wasn’t as much help as it should have been. Its first full post about the scandal was this one, which, in grand Ethics Alarms tradition, slammed the ethics of the judge who sentenced Nasser to 60 years in prison, essentially a “Stop making me defend Dr. Nasser!” post. I’ll stand by that post forever, but it didn’t help readers who are link averse to know the full extent of Nasser’s sick hobby of plunging his fingers and hands into the vaginas and anuses of trusting young girls while telling them that it was “therapy.”

The second full post, in August of last year,  was more informative regarding Nasser, but again, it was about the aftermath of his crimes, not the crimes themselves. That post  focused on the the Senate hearings following the July 30 release of the report of an 18-month Senate investigation  that found that the U.S. Olympic Committee and others failed to protect young female athletes from Nasser’s probing hands, detailing “widespread failure by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (the “Committee”) and other institutions to keep athletes safe.”  Then there was this: Continue reading

Wait, Why Was This News Not A Bigger Story? And What ELSE Have They Been Covering Up?

Apparently about  six weeks ago, the U.S. Navy finally publicly admitted that the government is aware of so-far unexplained aircraft that operate beyond mankind’s presumed technological limits, at least in this country. On September 18th, it publicly acknowledged that the advanced aircraft depicted in several recently declassified gun-camera videos are what have been referred to for decades as UFOs, though just to be contrary,  the Navy prefers to use the term “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon” or UAPs.I guess this is so they can keep saying that various conspiracy theorists and “They’re out there!” kooks have been wrong about UFOs, as in, ‘UFO’s are all fiction and swamp gas. UAP’s, however, are another story!’

Got it.

Jerks.

We all owe  thanks to “The Hill” for posting a story about this yesterday for those of us—like almost everybody— who missed it:

The vehicles observed and recorded by U.S. Navy fighter pilots seem impervious to altitude or the elements; they are able to maneuver above 80,000 feet; they can hover and then instantly accelerate to supersonic and even hypersonic speeds; they have very low radar cross-sections and use a means of propulsion and control that does not appear to involve combustion, exhaust, rotors, wings or flaps.Since the Navy asserts these are not U.S. aircraft, we are confronted by the daunting prospect that a potential adversary of the United States has achieved the ability to render our most sophisticated aircraft and air defense systems obsolete.

The Hill article raised some of the questions I have about this: Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/2019: Farrow, James, Biden, And Another Diploma Bites The Dust…[CORRECTED]

Great.

Now there’s a tidal wave of too many ethics stories and issues to cover…

…and more than ever, I feel that an impeachment information and analysis website is essential, a civic  obligation, and likley to foce me to live out of a cardboard box. I also need to get Mrs. Q’s featured column launched. Naturally, I leave on another ethics seminar road trip today.

If the Red Sox were in the post-season, I’d have to shoot myself…

1. The up-side of the NBA’s cowardly pandering to China and its suppression of basic human rights…we learned what a shallow hypocrite LeBron James is. Of course, many of us knew this when James did his grandstanding champion of social justice act and  extolled Colin Kaepernick’s useless and incoherent protest.  “I stand with anyone who believes in change,” the B-ball superstar said, as if that means something.  It was still enough to attract excessive praise from the sports media. Last week, however, as the Los Angeles Lakers  returned home from a week-long tour of China, James said,

“Yes, we do have freedom of speech.  But at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke.”

Morey, the Houston Rockets GM who tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters resisting China’s iron boot, only lacked education on how venal and without principles his league was, including stars like James. Morey was “thinking of others”: he was thinking of the people of Hong Kong desperately trying to hold on to as much liberty as they can. No, he wasn’t thinking about James’s giant paycheck, which is clearly all LeBron cares about.

He can take solace in a victory in the NBA’s “It’s not the worst thing” sweepstakes. San Farncisco Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when asked if he’d ever been confronted about human rights abuses on earlier trips to China, Kerr replied, “No. Nor has (America’s) record of human rights abuses come up either… People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.”

That’s right, Steve, there is obvious moral equivalency between China’s 30-65 million mass murders and its current oppressive government, and the United States of America. Continue reading

Horse Racing Ethics: Justify Was A Fake Triple Crown Winner. Now What?

The term “horse racing ethics” is justly regarded as an oxymoron, and the stunning scandal revealed yesterday shows why.

The U.S. Thoroughbred Racing Triple Crown is one of the most prestigious achievements in all of sports. The three races that make up the Triple Crown, all competed in by three-year-old horses, are the Kentucky Derby, run over the 1 1⁄4-mile dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; the Preakness Stakes, run over the 1 3⁄16-mile (1.9 km) dirt track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and
the Belmont Stakes, run over the 1 1⁄2-mile (2.4 km) dirt track (the longest in U.S. thoroughbred racing) at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

The first Triple Crown winner was Sir Barton in 1919, and there have been only twelve since, among them the most fabled names in the sport: War Admiral, Count Fleet, Whirlaway, Secretariat, Affirmed. Winning the Triple Crown is a bonanza for the sport as well as the owner of the victorious horse, which will eventually demand huge stud fees. After Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, no horse achieved that pinnacle for 37 years. Then, finally, American Pharaoh  broke the drought in 2015. A filly out of that Triple Crown winner recently sold for a record $8.2 million. The Triple Crown is a big deal; in thoroughbred racing, there is no bigger deal.

The thoroughbred racing world only had to wait three years for another super-champion this time: Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018. Now we know, however,  that the horse was an illicit competitor, and should have been disqualified. This is approximately the horse racing equivalent of  gamblers rigging baseball’s World Series in 1919, a scandal that almost destroyed the sport.

This week we learned, courtesy of a New York Times investigation, that  Justify had tested positive for the banned drug scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, 2018. That win qualified the horse to run in the Kentucky Derby, one month later, in which he would be a likely favorite to win. Behind closed doors, the California Horse Racing Board first stalled on acting, then decided to dismiss the case after the colt went on to win the Triple Crown. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month, And Also KABOOM!: Pope Francis

“Because of our sins, the Great Accuser always takes advantage – we read in the first chapter from Job – he roams looking for someone to accuse… he is accusing us strongly, and this accusation becomes persecution as well. …And there is also another type of persecution, of continuous accusations to dirty the Church: the Church must not be dirtied. The children yes, but not the mother, and the mother defends herself from the Great Accuser with prayer and penance. That’s why I asked to pray the Rosary, Our Lady, Saint Michael the Archangel. It’s a difficult moment because through us, the great accuser wants to attack the mother. And you don’t touch a mother”.  

—- Pope Francis, addressing the closing session of a synod of bishops at the Vatican yesterday, claiming that the Catholic Church has been persecuted through accusations related to the clerical child sex-abuse scandals that have undermined the credibility of the papacy and church hierarchy.

I’m really mad at my head for exploding over this. Surely it isn’t a surprise, not after the ongoing accountability-ducking and finger-pointing the Pope and his Church have been engaged in while innocent children are buggered by priests worldwide. Yet somehow I did not, and apparently my head did not, believe that the Pope would be so callous, tone-deaf and, frankly, stupid as to play the victim card when it is not only invalid but guaranteed not to work. “How dare anyone accuse us of covering up child abuse when we have been covering up child abuse for decades, and probably centuries! How dare anyone imply that the Church is accountable when its priests molest children and its leadership choose to protect the molesters instead of the victims!” This is essentially what the Pope is saying (it sounds different in Italian), and he really seems to be oblivious to how awful it not only sounds, but is. Continue reading

Call Me Cynical, But When A Religious Leader Responds To A Scandal This Way, I Check My Pockets…

The Pope takes a page from Jimmy’s playbook!

Last week the Vatican  began a three-week-long assembly to discuss how to bring young people back into the Catholic Church. As the Synod of Bishops began, Pope Francis said, “This moment has highlighted a church that needs to listen.”

No, the moment  highlights a church that needs to stop letting its priests molest kids.

Protesters have been much in evidence at the gathering,  denouncing what they (and I) see as the Vatican’s refusal to take necessary actions to ensure that sexual predator priests and those who cover up for them be stopped. Said one protester, a victim himself, “They should center the discussions where it hurts most — and this is the outrageous abuse of power, and the thousands and thousands of children and young people hurt by officials of the church in the last decades all over the world. You can’t discuss youth without talking about this point.”

Other victims held up placards demanding, “No More Cover Up”; “Make Zero Tolerance Real”; “Establish an International Inquiry and Justice Commission”  in Italian and English.

So far, the Pope’s approach to the renewed scandal has been to point fingers, or change the subject. He did publish a letter in August that appeared to be a holy, Italian version of “huminahuminahumina,” as Ralph Kramden used to say when words and wit failed him in a crisis. That the Pope’s efforts to either ignore, or duck, or spin his accountability for the fact that children are still not safe around priests almost 20 years after the scandal of high-level cover-ups and the facilitating of serial sexual assaults in the Church across the globe were not going well became clearer than ever last week, when Francis adopted the same tragedy used by Jimmy Swaggert, Jim and Tammy Lee Baker, Ted Haggard and so many other TV evangelist con artists did when they were caught either with a hand up a dress or in the till.

He blamed the Devil. Continue reading

Wait…Condemning A Pope’s Mass Cover-Up Of Sexual Abuse Of Children By Priests Is Partisan Now? [UPDATED*]

I saw a hint of this when I noticed this week that my 90% leftist Facebook friends scrupulously avoided commenting on my cross-posted article about the current Pope’s likely complicity in the ongoing Roman Catholic Church child sexual abuse cover-up while metaphorically foaming at the mouth because the White House flag wasn’t at half mast. Then the New York Times started spinning. An article by Jason Horowitz titled “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce”  argued that conservatives were “weaponizing” the scandal in order to minimize the influence of Pope Francis, who has aroused the Right’s ire by “going soft” on homosexuality and by becoming a shill for climate change. Horowitz wrote,

“Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.”

What? Heaven forfend that someone suggest that a hypocritical homosexual factor at high levels of the Church might be partially responsible for a policy of allowing male priests to continue to rape little boys! That’s minor, however, compared to the triple “What?” earned by the writer and the Times for implying that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s  a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering up Cardinal McCarrick’s abuses while also taking his counsel on appointing bishops was merely a political ploy. This is one more example of the tactic of using alleged mixed motives to delegitimize an ethical act. So what if Viganò is a Vatican dissident? The evidence is overwhelming that the Catholic Church has facilitated child abuse for at least decades (See: “Spotlight”), that this continued on Pope Francis’s watch (See: the recent grand jury report), that the Pope is accountable, that his statement was a weaselly mess of accountability-skirting platitudes, and that Viganò’s accusations appear to have validity. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

From the National Catholic Register:

In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the Register and other media, (see full text below) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor.” Viganò said that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign.

His full testimony can be read here.

Well, let’s see if the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church can duck its responsibility one more time. This particular giant, nasty ethics chicken has been trying to roost for decades, while whoever was Pope continued to lecture the rest of the world, and the United States particularly, about its moral failings. Funny thing with me: I don’t take well to lectures on morality from self-anointed authorities who habitually facilitate their pals’ child-molesting hobby.  It is telling—damning is a better word—that Pope Francis, who seldom hesitates to comment on the evils of war, capitalism and climate change cannot find words to comment on this accusation. As we discussed here last week, he did issue some Authentic Frontier Gibbersh about the re-emerging child abuse scandal as if he was just an innocent bystander.

Archbishop Viganò is a model whistleblower, although his call for the Pope and the others to resign is inadequate. The entire culture of the Church is corrupt to the core, and aa few, or many, resignations will not cure the problem.

The Pope’s Letter On Sexual Abuse

Today Pope Francis released a letter responding to the horrific report on sexual assault involving 1,000 victims and 300 priests in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, where I just happen to be speaking today.

I know we are talking about a religious organization, but it is still an organization, a large, wealthy, international one, and any CEO (or, if you like, Chairman of the Board) would have to issue a formal response to a scandal of this magnitude and these damning realities. There is no mystery about what such a statement has to include, if it is going to be ethical rather than defensive, sincere rather than deceitful:

1. This is unacceptable for our organization, or any organization, but especially for an organization like this one.

2. We apologize unequivocally and without qualification to the victims and their families, as well as all members and supporters of our organization who trust us and rely on us to do the right thing. We did not do the right thing. We are responsible for terrible things, things no organization should ever allow.

3. Our organization and its leadership are accountable for these acts.

4. I am personally and professionally accountable for every crime and betrayal of trust in this scandal that occurred on my watch, and there were many.

5. Therefore, I resign [OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED.]

6. It is undeniable that this scandal, which is a continuation of an ongoing scandal reaching back decades if not centuries, is a byproduct of a corrupt and pathological culture within this organization. This culture must change.

7. Here are the steps the organization will take, immediately and going forward, to change it.

The entire letter is below. My ethics verdict: it is the Papal version of  Authentic Frontier Gibberish, a tsunami of words designed to blur the issues and accountability. Prayer and fasting? Gee, why didn’t we think of that before! The Boston scandal that blew the top off of the Church’s world-wide coverup was 17 years ago: I’m pretty sure there has been a lot or praying and fasting since then. Obviously, it doesn’t work, not on this, and it is insulting and demeaning for the Pope to fall back on such reflex nostrums. Some lowlights: Continue reading