Reporter Wars: My Secrecy Battles With Federal Government

Above image: Attkisson at 2013 Emmy Awards as presenter, recipient of Investigative Emmy Award for “Investigating Congress,” including an undercover investigation into Republican fundraising; 2013 Emmy nominations for “Benghazi: Dying for Security” and “Green Energy Going Red.”[hr]
The following is an opinion article[hr]

I just filed my latest appeal to the FBI’s improper withholding of my FBI file.

You may not know it, but every American citizen–even a lowly reporter–is entitled to see his FBI file, if one exists. Under Freedom of Information (FOI) law, the government is allowed to redact bits of information from the file if it affects national security or an ongoing investigation, but the government must provide reasons for any such redactions and disclose the rest of the file. The FBI has refused to do this in my case.

The federal government routinely violates FOI law with impunity. I’m receiving assistance with this appeal from Charles Glasser, renowned media lawyer and adjunct professor of Media Ethics and Law at New York University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

You can read the Appeal below.

Glasser says he hopes that the Justice Department takes the newly-elected President’s words to heart, in that the government will work for the people, not the other way around.

“It’s impossible to believe that the DOJ refuses to provide or even acknowledge the investigative file they must have created in allowing a journalist to travel with Presidents and First Families as Sharyl has,” says Glasser. “It makes no sense at all. Every reporter should be able to see what file the government has on them. This is America, not East Germany.”

[quote]Every reporter should be able to see what file the government has on them. This is America, not East Germany—Charles Glasser, Attorney and Media Ethics and Law adjunct professor at NYU[/quote]

Computer Intrusion Federal Lawsuit

I have a separate federal lawsuit underway against the federal government over illegal surveillance of my work and home computers by intruders using software proprietary to a U.S. intelligence agency. The intrusions were detected and confirmed by three independent forensics exams in 2013.

Read the CBS News press release confirming Attkisson’s computer intrusions

So far, the government has not cooperated with my lawsuit. For example, without even filing the required motion, government officials failed to show up for a properly-noticed deposition in the case. Tab Turner is legal counsel on my behalf for this actions.

Attkisson with attorney Tab Turner (left) and computer forensics analyst Don Allison

Read: Initial Attkisson computer intrusion complaint 12.30.14

Read: Basis of Attkisson Computer Intrusion Claim

Read: 10.07.16 Attkisson Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Freedom of Information Act Lawsuits and Actions

I’ve also received legal assistance from the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch for the government’s various noncompliance with Freedom of Information news requests. Among other matters, the government improperly withheld information about and the mysterious disease EV-D68, which is hitting children around the nation, leaving many paralyzed.

Attkisson and other journalists testifying about government Freedom of Information Act violations — House Oversight Committee, June 2015

The attorneys who have offered assistance, as well as those inside the government who have helped me (including the sources who first alerted me that my computers had been infiltrated by government monitors), come from opposite sides of the political spectrum. But all believe the federal government has been guilty of egregious violations regarding press freedoms, spying and FOIA law. I’m grateful for their continued assistance.[hr]Example of government documents provided in FOIA lawsuit (with extensive redactions).



[hr]Computer Intrusion Lawsuit News Release

On December, 27, 2014, Investigative Journalist Sharyl Attkisson filed administrative claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Postal Service, and certain unnamed employees and/or agents of the federal government.  Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia alleging certain violations of Attkisson’s constitutional rights based on information implicating the federal government in illegal electronic monitoring and surveillance of her home and business computers and phones.

As outlined in the claims, three separate computer forensics exams revealed that intruders used sophisticated, remote capabilities to monitor Attkisson’s work. The intruders installed and periodically “refreshed” software used to exfiltrate data, obtain Attkisson’s passwords to various personal and work accounts, access the CBS News computer system, and monitor Attkisson’s audio using a Skype account. Forensics also revealed evidence of U.S. government-related involvement in the surveillance.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Attkisson learned that the F.B.I. opened a case on her computer intrusions in 2013, listing her as the victim, but the agency failed to interview her in the investigation or even notify her that one had been opened. To date, U.S. government officials have failed to fully cooperate with Attkisson’s efforts to learn about the intrustions, and have failed to full respond numerous requests to help provide information necessary to learn the truth.  As a consequence of the government’s choice to ignore Attkisson’s requests, Attkisson and her family have chosen the only available option left to them.

The filing of the administrative claim is a necessary procedural step under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) prior to a citizen filing formal lawsuit complaints.  Once the time for investigation is completed, the Government will be required to either take a formal step to resolve the complaint or litigation can be initiated.[hr]

Attkisson is an award winning investigative journalist and host of Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson. She is author of the New York Times bestseller “Stonewalled” and the upcoming sequel “The Smear.”



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16 thoughts on “Reporter Wars: My Secrecy Battles With Federal Government”

  1. I thought of you Sharyl, when Obama spoke about the importance of a free press and informed citizenry in his final press conference on Jan. 18th. After the “red pill” of your book, Stonewalled, it forever changed how I viewed the government’s role in freedom of the press. Freedom of the press precedes all of our other rights and freedoms. We are in the fight of our lives.

  2. Ms. Attkisson is going up against powerful forces to get to the truth here. It’s going to take a long time but President Trump, if he’s true to his word and really wants honest journalism, will take down the roadblocks the Obama DOJ has put in place. The evidence of the computer intrusion that’s already in the public domain looks pretty compelling. I can’t wait for Ms. Attkisson’s reporting on this matter as it unfolds for it’ll be an indication of whether the corruption runs so deep that it can withstand even profound changes in leadership.

  3. The man from F.U.N.K.L.E.

    Dear Ms. Attkinsson:

    This is the weirdest Internet comment I will have left, and possibly the weirdest you will have received, but: I’ve read only the first two sentences of this piece, and already I’m impressed.

    “… every American citizen–even a lowly reporter–is entitled to see his FBI file….”

    As a woman, you must have been tempted to play with the pronoun here; instead, you chose the traditionally accepted “his”, rather than the PC “his or her”, even though you were, plainly, speaking of yourself.

    This reveals an intellectual honesty in you that makes me many times more willing to receive the rest of your text.

    Congratulations, and thank you.

  4. Great Job Sharyl,

    Please keep putting iron to the fire on these people. As a retired federal LEO I have lost faith in the government I once worked for and rely on you and others like you to present the real facts. A truly transparent government earns the respect and support of it’s citizens. Unfortunately the one we have has lost all respect, trust, and support. I never thought back in 1980 when I started in Federal Law Enforcement that my government would end up being the exact thing I was working to stop. How could a benevolent .GOV come up with things like “fast and furious”, fusion centers, the NDAA that authorizes internment with no right of Habeas Corpus?. The worm certainly has turned.

  5. I read Ms. Attkisson’s book and was outraged by the Obama administration’s unlawful activities against her. She should appeal to the Trump administration to launch an investigation. We should never tolerate any government that abuses its power against private citizens.

  6. Thank you for your courageous work. I can’t tell you how many times in recent history I have visited this page to see if you have any insight to offer on one topic or another. Truth is difficult to discern these days, as are trusted sources.

  7. Dear Sharyl,
    As you know, I am a big supporter of your fight with the government and I do believe justice is headed your way. We now have a President who I honestly believe is going to roll over the establishment. Keep up the good work and look forward to seeing your rights restored!

  8. Yeoman’s work, Miss Attkisson.

    Another story that I have not even seen broached is where are all of the so-called Dreamers?

    We have potentially hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have been relocated all across the country to who knows who and who knows where and an ad hoc vetting process.

    If you found a minor in a Walmart parking lot and decided to send them to some estranged “relative” they never met, it would be kidnapping and human trafficking to not attempt to return them to their biological parents.

    Initially, there were stories that families taking in these children were getting paid thousands of dollars per month per child.

    I trust Obama’s foster family vetting for Dreamers about as much as his Syrian refugee vetting.

    Who will ever look into this?

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