The right to inspect your own FBI file is guaranteed under the law. So why won’t the FBI show me mine, as the law requires?
My FBI file trail dates back to the mid 1990s. At that time, I underwent an FBI background check to obtain what’s known as a “HARD PASS” to cover the White House as a correspondent for CBS News. The FBI background check is mandatory. I passed the check and received my HARD PASS.
Years later, in 2013, I learned of the intrusion of my work and home computers. The intruders utilized software proprietary to a U.S. government agency. I knew that the FBI had contacted CBS News and confirmed the computer intrusion. I knew that FBI case workers listed me as a “victim” in the computer intrusion, even though they never contacted me to investigate or help.
As part of my investigation to learn more about the identities of the computer intruders, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act request to review my FBI file (as every citizen has the right to do). I knew that — at the very least — my file would include information relevant to my White House HARD PASS background checks and the computer intrusion.
But I got stonewalled.
[button link=”http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-confirms-sharyl-attkissons-computer-hacked/”]CBS News confirms Sharyl Attkisson’s computer hacked[/button]
The FBI falsely claimed it had no information about me in its records. Why was the FBI violating FOIA and privacy law, withholding the material?
I pursued my file through appeals and, eventually, a lawsuit filed with the help of Judicial Watch–a group that has enjoyed unprecedented success under both the Bush and Obama administrations in suing the government to shake public documents free from its grip. Along the way, the tug-of-war resulted in producing a scant seven pages of documents that raise more questions than they answer.
And no FBI file.
To this day, the FBI–through Justice Department lawyers–flatly represents to the court that there are no more documents. But it refuses to address or even mention the mysterious case of my missing FBI file.
Have they lost it? If so, they must explain.
Are they unable to locate it? I doubt it. But if that’s the case, they must explain.
I’m left to wonder: Why don’t they want me to see my own file?
I’ve encountered many citizens with similar predicaments. Not everyone has the time and wherewithal to challenge authority and protect their rights. But once in a great while, one successful case lifts all. That’s one reason why I’m pursuing a lawful and complete response to my request.
If we can’t trust the nation’s highest law enforcement bodies–the ones in charge of enforcing the law–to follow the law, then what’s left? Where can a citizen turn?
Tweet @FBI: Where’s Attkisson’s FBI file?