“We do know that the group made unauthorized access to House servers, logging in with the usernames and passwords of Members of Congress, including the servers of members for whom they did not work.”
So far this scandal has not gotten the attention it deserves. Indeed if one only watched or read the #oldmedia one might not even know about what’s been going on.
Here are the basic facts. On February 2, 2017, Chiefs of Staff in several House offices were notified of a criminal probe into several House information technology (IT) staffers, for theft of computer equipment, overbilling, and, most disturbingly, the presence of an external email server to which House data was being funneled.
The probe, first raised by investigators in the House Inspector General’s (IG) office, centered around five House IT staffers, all immediate family members—brothers Abid, Imran and Jamal Awan, as well as Imran’s wife, Hina Alvvi, and Abid’s wife, Natalia Sova. All were shared employees of over forty House offices, meaning they were hired by multiple House offices, which split their salaries.
As IT staffers, the group had significant access to the correspondence, emails and confidential files of Members of Congress, with almost no one tracking them. Bizarrely, these IT staff were not subject to background checks— which, given what these staffers are alleged to have engaged in, seems to be a massive oversight.
Yes, we agree. A massive “oversight.” Try getting a job at a run of the mill bank without a background check. But an IT staffer for 40 members of Congress? Whose family is also on the payroll (for nothing) and paid for by US taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars? No check needed.
In the meantime, we do know that the group made unauthorized access to House servers, logging in with the usernames and passwords of Members of Congress, including the servers of members for whom they did not work. Moreover, according to the IG, the access continued after they were banned from the network and, in some cases, fired by the Member offices.
The unauthorized access peaked just months before the 2016 elections, when the server of the House Democratic Caucus was accessed by the Awans 5,700 times over a seven-month period. Authorities believe Awan routed data from over a dozen House offices to the server, where he may have then read or removed information. Awan’s purpose for doing so has not been made clear, though the Daily Caller recently reported claims by Awan’s father that his son transferred the data to a USB drive, which was then given to a Pakistani senator and former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency.
In a spy novel twist, the server, containing all the data in question, has gone missing.
No big deal. Just God only knows what information was allegedly transferred to Islamabad and millions in dollars paid to “ghost employees.”