A Capitol Scandal
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, The Sign of the Four, the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, asked Dr. Watson: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
An intricate mystery haunts Washington, one so complicated it boggles the investigative comprehension of the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and similar media suspects.
So I decided to consult Sherlock Holmes. Preternaturally —
Glad you’re here, sir.
“Yes, the case of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her rogue aides-de-camp. We shall title this adventure ‘A Capitol Scandal,’” he said, his beady eyes gleaming and deep-set like those of a bird. “Superior to a blasé appellation like WasserGate.”
I dig it, Sherlock. Reminiscent of A Scandal in Bohemia, where you encounter the knock-out Irene Adler.
American hardboiled detective slang for babes you Victorians call ladies graced with exquisite beauty and charm.
Holmes nodded. “So tell me, good fellow. What do we know?”
Glad you asked. We know Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), former head of the Democratic National Committee, is central to this puzzle… On the table there. In your printed brief she’s abbreviated DWS.
His brows knitted. “Call her Debbie,” Holmes said. “I insist.”
Debbie — see, Deb knows what 1940s American tough guy detectives called “stuff” or “the inside skinny.” Debbie knows stuff about Washington, about Democrat politicians and big shot donors, about 2016 election shenanigans and about Hillary Clinton. So does a man named Imran Awan who is now under arrest for bank fraud. He worked as Debbie’s IT tech, which means he ran Debbie’s office computers — very high-speed silicon and electrical versions of your brain, Sherlock. Imran’s originally from Pakistan and he tried to flee to Pakistan, so his involvement internationalizes this scandal, to the point I may seek the opinions of a couple of other great fictional Brits, George Smiley and James Bond.
Holmes’ eyes kindled and a slight flush sprang to his thin cheeks. “Why bother with them?” he demanded.
Because Debbie gave Imran, a foreign national with a sketchy background, access to highly sensitive national political information and possibly intelligence information.
Holmes rolled his eyes. “At the national level political information is intelligence information. It provides insight into decision-making. Smiley will affirm that. Awan had access to personal information about senior American leaders.” He leaned toward me and in a stage whisper said “Fodder for blackmail. It’s elementary.”
Here’s another continuing mystery, Sherlock. U.S. mainstream media avoid this story like Dracula avoids garlic. Yeah, we colonials don’t have royalty, only the Clintons and leftish California billionaires. But your Fleet Street tabloids would be all over this splash, especially if you’re working a blackmail angle.
“Democrat Media Privilege,” Holmes said evenly. Responding to my puzzled face, he explained. “American Democrats operate with an unrestrained presumption of media favoritism. So-called objective American media prefer to ignore Democrat wrongs, or, that tactic failing, attempt to justify the offences. It echoes The Adventure of Silver Blaze, good fellow.”
The dog did nothing in the night time.
“Yes, an echo of silence. The press lapdog that didn’t bark? In your media intense environment that makes Democrat political operatives a privileged class…Please proceed.”
The brief — or should I call it a dossier? — the papers before you summarize several excellent Daily Caller reports covering the known facts and logical assumptions as they stood on August 1. I’ll hit the highlights.
In February, Capitol Police identified three brothers, Imran, Abid, and Jamal Awan as targets of an investigation into accessing congressional computer networks without permission and stealing digital information equipment. Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi, and Rao Abbas, Imran’s best friend, were also under investigation. They were barred from working on Capitol Hill.
Imran is the kingpin. He went to work for Debbie in 2005.
The three Pakistani brothers and their significant others, one by one, got on the payrolls of several Democratic congressional reps. The suspects received six-figure salaries. The reps served on a range of committees —
“House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs among them,” Holmes interjected.
“Elementary,” Holmes said.
Now this bugs me, Sherlock. The Awans and their associates had gone through bankruptcy proceedings, faced driving-while-impaired charges and were carrying big time debt — conditions which usually disqualify individuals from obtaining security clearances. But these Dem members of the House of Representatives hired them anyway and gave them access to classified information…
Now get a grip. This next info is so sordid it sounds like it came right out of Police Gazette.
The Awan group owed $100,000 — a hundred grand — to a man U.S. agencies had observed overseas consorting with Hezbollah. This individual had defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. Maryland suspended his medical license. He was indicted for tax fraud and fled to Iraq to avoid criminal consequences.
“And Democratic congressional representatives were not concerned.” His mutter was a statement, not a question. “Continue,” he said.
The Awan group had full access to the office emails and office computer files of the representatives who employed them. Now, investigators think the Awan group may have uploaded emails and files to an off-site, unauthorized server.
“Not at all improbable,” Holmes nodded.
Despite their status as full time employees, they had the time to own and run a car dealership whose acronym was “CIA.”
Holmes stared at me, but he failed to suppress a grin.
After the Capitol Police began investigating and barred the Awans from Capitol Hill, most of the representatives began firing the Awans.
“But not our dear Debbie,” Holmes interjected.
Correct, sir. Even though Imran was barred from Capitol Hill, he remained on Debbie’s payroll until his arrest in July. In May Deb “threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with ‘consequences’” if his officers continued to hold IT equipment seized from Awan.
“Consequences, dear fellow?”
American gangster slang, Sherlock. Intimidation backed by tough guys, mob hard boys providing muscle. Read your Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane. In this case tough Deb’s letting the top cop know who’s really boss and —
“She’s very afraid,” Holmes interrupted. “Come now. Can’t you see it? Tough?” He glared, peered down his nose. “She’s afraid, good fellow. The intimidation is cheap theater.”
But there has been rough play, Mr. Holmes. Fists have flown, or maybe Mike Hammer has hammered. See, FBI agents “seized smashed computer hard drives” from Awan’s Florida home. Which suggests the drive had data Imran wanted to destroy and Debbie wanted to hide.
I paused, looked at his thin lips repress his smile.
I guess that reinforces your suspicion of guilt, I said.
“Elementary,” Holmes replied. “Continue.”
Even though it doesn’t relate to the Tea Party, this ought to interest the IRS. The cops discovered Imran wired $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to Pakistan.
Info on the big money move’s in the dossier, in the criminal complaint dated July 24, 2017. Thing is, Imran pulled off the wire transfer in January.
“Quite a delay, January to July…Is detective work in America a seasonal trade?”
At least the transfer finally produced a criminal charge the police could use. Imran was arrested trying to board a plane to Pakistan.
“What about his wife?”
In March his wife, Hina Alvi, and their kids fled to Pakistan. The moll had 12 grand in a suitcase.
Even after Imran’s arrest the Awan family in Pakistan continued to liquidate financial assets. Where oh where was the U.S. Treasury Department, Sherlock?
“Two possibilities, one probable, one less so. Government incompetence is the probable. The other is your intelligence agencies were trying to determine if Awan and his gang are in a league with other rogues.” He raised his eyebrows. “But such sophistication is improbable. Your CIA and FBI have become… less than adequate.”
As I reflect on it, you may have a point about media privilege, Sherlock… But right now Democrats aren’t talking to the media. It’s like, like we’re dealing with The Mob and Code of Silence action. For example, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) refused to answer a simple question about the scandal. And he’s the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. It’s like Debbie and Brad are hiding something.
Holmes sniffed, his long, thin nose wrinkled. “Let me break it to you gently… They are.”
You’re right, Sherlock. But your insights will be dismissed since you’re a fictional character.
Holmes shrugged. “Why, that makes me your perfect consulting detective, good fellow.” He winked. “GPS Fusion specializes in fiction.”
President Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, employed the pseudonym Elizabeth Carlisle. Sounds like an English actress, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t Lynch’s stage name, good fellow, that would appear on a marquee. Lynch used it as a fake identity to mask investigation of the Clinton emails!!!”
He pointed a long finger at me then continued: “You live in an era of fake news, good fellow. I am fiction but nothing about me is false, not in the moral dimension. I admit to being a fictional character, but one committed to honest analysis and explanation. Your media has made itself a character in this drama.” Holmes paused, reflected a moment, then smiled a faint smile. “Let me correct myself. It is a caricature in this drama.”
This Capitol Scandal, as you call it. Sherlock. I’ll bet you fifty bucks it connects to GPS Fusion and the so-called Russian collusion scandal.
“You’re surmising. But that is not improbable. It may intersect with the Obama era domestic spying scandal and the lurking unmasking scandal… Before I forget, I only wager in pounds sterling… and it is THE Capitol Scandal. My first 21st century American adventure. I’ve already informed Sir Arthur’s ghost… the blighter.”
How’d he take it?
“In the preternatural spirit of things,” Holmes winked. “…Now I shall summarize. The congressional Democrats in The Capitol Scandal defied the very rules and protocols designed to prevent the species of information security breach that has occurred. Eliminate the impossible and the improbable says we are confronting stupidity or some nefarious spy world dirty tricks operation. Probably both. Now we need to know why Imran was hired. We must determine his degree of access to prominent members of Congress, especially those like Sherman with an intelligence portfolio.”
“From the evidence I infer Awan could access emails for everyone in Congress. But until you provide these corroborating details I will not be able to solve this mystery to my satisfaction. So, wretched and foul as it is — I say this with distaste, sir — I wish to work with a special prosecutor. Perhaps Rudy Giuliani, with J. Christian Adams and Andrew McCarthy on his staff.”
I say, Holmes. Democrats will bloody howl at Republican investigators.
“Dr. Watson told me that a sub-Continent colleague — from Watson’s army days — insisted that being forced to therapeutically imbibe one’s own urine is intellectually invigorating and morally edifying……
Sir Arthur never put that in print but it seems relevant to this case… I suggest the prosecutors give Anwan a plea deal so he can cop a plea — that’s the tough guy phrase, right? — in exchange for his testimony.”
What happens after that, Sherlock?
Holmes winked. “Then, Colonel, the game’s afoot.”
Copyright Austin Bay August 7, 2017
FOR THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR