Many voters rejected Hillary Clinton because they thought she couldn’t be trusted with national secrets after her reckless handling of sensitive State Department emails. Florida voters ought to dispatch Rep. Debbie Wasserman for the same reason.
When it comes to security matters, the incumbent Democrat and former DNC chair makes Hillary look like a diligent TSA agent. And the news about her staffer trying to flee to Pakistan to avoid data-fraud charges is only the latest proof.
Computer security at the DNC was so lax on Wasserman Schultz’s watch that hackers burrowed deep into the network, leading to a massive data breach. They were thwarted, in contrast, when they tried to infiltrate Schultz’s Republican counterparts.
When the FBI tried to investigate the cyber-crime, Wasserman Schultz refused to fully cooperate.
She wouldn’t let forensic experts at the FBI’s lab in Quantico examine the targeted server and collect the digital fingerprints needed to nail the intruders.
Now we discover that Wasserman couldn’t really give a rip about cyber-security in Congress, either.
After the Capitol Police this year began investigating her trusted staffer, Imran Awan, for theft of congressional data and procurement fraud, Politico reported, every Democrat who had contracted with him eventually fired him. Everyone, that is, except Wasserman.
It wasn’t until last month, when the FBI arrested Awan for bank fraud, that the Democratic leader finally sacked him. The FBI says Awan bilked the Congressional Federal Credit Union out of $165,000, which he immediately wrapped into a $283,000 wire transfer to Pakistan. Agents collared him as he was boarding a flight for Pakistan.
In an interview with her local paper, Wasserman revealed she kept Awan around to do other IT work even after authorities suspended his access to the Capitol computer network. Worse, she said she continued to employ him to work on printers, websites and software despite learning he transferred sensitive congressional data outside the secure network to an unauthorized offsite storage location.
Police told her Awan was “transferring data outside the secure network, which I think amounted to use of apps that the House didn’t find compliant with our security requirements,” Wasserman Schultz shrugged, insisting she “did the right thing” keeping him on payroll. “I would do it again.”
She claims he didn’t have access to classified information, though investigators still probing Awan haven’t confirmed that. And even if true, he had access to emails to and from members of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the calendars, travel schedules and notes of other members — sensitive information that, as one Republican legislator pointed out, “our enemies that would like to bring down the US would love to have.”
Awan is reported to have smashed hard drives before agents raided his home. If he copied valuable data to off-site servers, it would set off bigger alarms. Such information could be used to blackmail members of Congress — namely Wasserman, who has gone to unusual lengths to protect her rogue IT guy.
She admitted she knew Awan was planning to travel to Pakistan, but that he had discussed return dates with her chief of staff. And when investigators seized a laptop from her office, one she says belonged to Awan, she went into high dudgeon, chewing out the Capitol Police chief in May when he refused to return it and even threatening him with “consequences.”
As it turns out, Awan had access to Wasserman Schultz’s emails at both Congress and the DNC. He had been given the password to her iPad, which might also explain why she refused to turn over the server to the FBI.
Wasserman Schultz claims she defended Awan to the bitter end, because he’s Muslim and she didn’t want to see him demonized in an Islamophobic witch hunt.
But that excuse doesn’t cut ice. Awan exhibited a pattern of shady behavior over the course of his employment. Yet instead of questioning him, she covered for him — and endangered the security of Congress’ computer networks in the process.
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