Telecommunications company sues Commerce and Defense Departments $39 billion for theft

The telecommunications company Ligado yesterday filed a $39 billion suit against the Commerce and Defense Departments for stealing use of the communications spectrum granted to it by the FCC for the establishment of a 5G cell phone network.

Ligado’s suit filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims [PDF] makes a number of allegations, including that the Pentagon has “taken Ligado’s spectrum for the agency’s own purposes, operating previously undisclosed systems that use or depend on Ligado’s spectrum without compensating Ligado.”

Those systems, a source close to the case said, are certain classified radars rather than GPS systems.

The suit cites a high-level DoD “whistleblower” who “revealed internal emails and discussions” that the company claims show DoD and Commerce “fabricated arguments, misled Congress in testimony supporting anti-Ligado legislation, and orchestrated a public smear campaign, which included repeating those false claims to the public and threatening Ligado’s business partners with canceling their own government contracts if they worked with Ligado.”

There had been some disagreement about whether Ligado’s use of this spectrem might interfere with GPS as well as other communications services. Nonetheless, the spectrum was legally Ligado’s. If the lawsuit is correct and these government agencies arbitrarilly took possession and used the spectrum illegally, thus preventing Ligado from establishing its business, it would appear to be another example of the arrogant administrative state ignoring the law to grab power.

Once I would have considered a suit like this to simply be a failed company’s effort to recover its losses by blaming the government. I no longer assume such things. Instead, my first thought is that the allegations are true, that bureaucrats in Defense and Commerce conspirated to steal the spectrum for their own uses, and didn’t care that they were violating the law.

The truth could be a combination of all these things, but if so that still tells us some very ugly things about the people who now work in these federal agencies.