Why won’t the FBI show me my FBI file –as the law requires?

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=”https://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?

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23 thoughts on “Why won’t the FBI show me my FBI file –as the law requires?”

  1. I don’t know why we don’t have laws on the books to hold these people accountable. When I was a director of a board of elections, the current Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost was my county prosecutor, and he and his assistant prosecutor Chris Betts reminded me and the other director specifically that if we interfered with a public records request, we “shall be removed” per the Ohio Revised Code. I had no plans to do that of course, but I was caught in the crossfire between a special interest group and my board. The board didn’t want to provide the information, but the prosecutor reminded them the other director and I would be the ones fired even if we had nothing to do with their decision. I can’t say I enjoyed the feeling, but I supported and accepted it, and that’s the attitude all public administrators should have in my opinion.

    1. We already have laws on the books to hold these people accountable. It’s just that those in charge of holding public officials accountable are also the ones violating the laws. And just to “nip this in the bud” the solution here isn’t more laws.

  2. The last refuge of federal bureaucrats is national security. Ask Judicial Watch if there is anything in the foia that allows the FBI to not respond based on national security. There is also the possibility that the response that there is no file is accurate. The FBI may have sent you entire record to another agency, like Justice or NSA. The seven pages may be all they retain. In your case, the FBI not having the file, or hiding behind national security is probably more embarrassing than the truth.

  3. You should dig up Craig Livingstone, I’m sure Hillary knows his whereabouts. After all, he’s the one they placed blame for their having 500 FBI files in the WhiteHouse, remember Filegate? Plus he bear hugged me with help of 3 guys in suits with ear pieces, and drug me out of a Clinton-Gore rally in ’92. But the Clintons had no idea who he was and why Hillary hired him for a WH job once Filegate became known…

  4. Well, if we find some Republicans w/a spine (I know… I know…) perhaps we can pass a law that does two related things:

    1. Operate from a presumption of transparency. Unless the relevant agency can prove cause before a judge NOT to release it, and I mean REALLY, REALLY prove cause, not some loophole you can drive a truck through, it MUST be released 20 business days from the time the request is received. PERIOD.

    2. A new LAW that ALL federal records should be posted ON-LINE IMMEDIATELY (w/the obvious exceptions, like compartmented signals intel, etc.). THAT WAY the FOIA request load will drop DRAMATICALLY. Here’s what I mean specifically: every PENNY we spend is posted, every MEMO, and I mean EVERY, all the way down to “Clean the microwave” memos to the office is posted IMMEDIATELY. Schedules should be posted once they are completed. This kind of thing. HAD WE HAD THIS the Benghazi investigation would have been MUCH easier. Hillary didn’t know her schedule would be interesting until it was, right? I want the President’s whereabout posted regularly too. The Secret Service keeps logs of his coming and goings, MINUTE BY MINUTE AND ROOM TO ROOM. What POSSIBLE reason would there be to keep that a secret ONCE IT’S OVER? I can’t think of one. Additionally, we need to ensure no other agency official can go four years EVER AGAIN without a .gov email address. SOMEBODY at the National Archives, at State, etc. was TOTALLY asleep at the switch on this one. How is it possible NOBODY at the Archives noticed they were not getting .gov emails from the Secretary AS THEY ARE REQUIRED BY LAW to do?

    In short, POST IT if it’s “benign” IMMEDIATELY. THAT way we can see what’s “interesting” when it becomes “interesting,” when it’s TOO LATE for them to stonewall.

  5. “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?”
    You have nowhere left to turn. The Republic as you knew it is dead and it’s not coming back (without a fight-perhaps a violent one).
    When the law no longer applies to our “betters” then it no longer applies to me. But there may come a day when they want to restore the Constitution to protect themselves from the torches and pitchforks. But by then it will be too late – for them.
    All in theory of course, academically speaking, no violence implied or threatened. Because I’m a lowly serf who knows my place. (Smiles and walks away)

  6. I’m guessing they don’t want to set a precedent. Why, I can only guess the answer to that as well. I’m sure it’s not a good reason why they aren’t complying with their own laws, it seems that the more suspicious the public gets with our government, the more secretive they become. They must be hiding quite a whopper if they aren’t complying with a simple request such as that one.

  7. Dear Sharyl Attkisson – You are just not clever enough to out maneuver the boys and girls over at the FBI, especially David M. Hardy, head of the FOIA division.

    June 15, 2015

    Top FBI agents caught lying about collateral issues involving the deadly OKC bombing (the deadliest domestic terrorist attack in the USA at the time).

    Especially in light of FBI Director, James Comey (as a US Attorney) sending Martha Stewart to federal prison for 6 months for “lying to the government”.

    You might want to check out my FOIA request I’m making thru MUCKROCK, in particular the one I made yesterday, Maryland FBI, Special Agent in Charge, Kevin Perkins. Which just happens to be taking place in your backyard.

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