[dropcap]It[/dropcap] was August 7, 2013 that CBS News went public with the news I’d first learned about seven months before: that remote intruders had been engaged in an illicit spying campaign against me through my CBS and personal computers as well as other digital devices.
[quote]CBS News announced Friday that correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by “an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions,” confirming Attkisson’s previous revelation of the hacking.CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair said that a cybersecurity firm hired by CBS News “has determined through forensic analysis” that “Attkisson’s computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts.” [/quote]
- With that shocking announcement from CBS in 2013, the FBI quietly opened a case listing me as a “victim” — yet, surprisingly, the agency never even took the first, basic investigative step of telling me they had opened a case. Believe it or not, I only found out much later after I sued the FBI for withholding documents from me. To this day, they haven’t contacted me or interviewed me about “my case” or tried to identify the responsible parties. Curious.
- The FBI did, however, secretly contact CBS about me according to documents I later obtained. I requested information from the FBI about those contacts, and even sued the FBI under Freedom of Information Act law when it wouldn’t turn them over, but the information is still being withheld to this day.
- Forensics reports showed sophisticated remote monitoring of my devices over an extended period of time that included a keystroke monitoring program, surreptitious use of Skype to listen in on my audio and exfiltrate files, the planting of classified documents on my CBS laptop, access to the CBS corporate computer system, remote efforts to erase the spyware (once discovered) and delete their tracks, downloading of spyware attached to an otherwise innocuous hotmail email, use of a BGAN satellite terminal in the remote access, specific times and dates of entry, hacking and monitoring of my social media accounts, and much more.
- In 2013, I filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz over the government computer intrusions. My intel sources recommended against bringing in the DOJ IG because they “don’t trust the IG,” but my rationale was that we already had our own forensics anyway, and if the IG turned out to be honest, he just might find out more or even identify the bad government actors: no harm in trying.
- CBS would not agree to let the DOJ IG examine my CBS devices as part of their investigation. So I allowed DOJ IG investigators to examine one device I had ownership of that had also been intruded upon, according to independent forensics exams: my personal Apple desktop.
- The DOJ IG investigators weren’t able to dig as deeply as my own forensics experts who had more competence on Apple systems, but their examination did uncover and document multiple anomalies and suspicious activity on the desktop. For example, they correctly concluded that the intruders had accessed and deleted key files on my Apple desktop as well as tampered with the internal clock (as they had also done on my CBS laptop in an attempt to confuse the forensics).
- As DOJ IG investigators were preparing their final report, they informed me that somebody in their office–they wouldn’t say who–had ordered them to “narrow the scope” of their investigation.
- When I asked for a copy of their final report, the DOJ IG investigators said I would be able to get it when it was complete. However, when it was complete, they suddenly said it had to go to the DOJ IG General Counsel Bill Blier for approval before I could receive a copy.
- Once the report went to DOJ IG Bill Blier, it got delayed and I was not allowed to view the report. As I continued to inquire about it, the DOJ IG investigators told me I could always obtain it through a Freedom of Information Act request if the DOJ IG wouldn’t give it to me.
- I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the report, as well as the notes and forensics, in 2014. However, the DOJ IG’s office has violated FOI law by withholding the material to this day.
- Under pressure from Congress in 2015, the DOJ IG provided them with a scrubbed summary report of the investigation, but not the actual report or notes. The scrubbed summary was then spun and provided (by somebody) to members of the media who falsely and recklessly reported that it somehow proved there had been no computer intrusions.
- In 2015, I filed a lawsuit for the computer intrusions against the government.
- In the five years since, thanks to extensive forensic analysis and assistance from intel sources, the evidence is clear. The problem is: the U.S. government is fighting my lawsuit every step of the way and it’s the government that holds the key to identifying the specific employees responsible for the computer intrusions. The Department of Justice is spending your (unlimited) tax money to obstruct and delay rather than issuing an apology and promising to hold the guilty parties responsible so it can never happen again.
- A federal judge in Virginia recently granted the defendant’s motions to dismiss the case.
- We have appealed the dismissal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
I’m grateful to my attorney, Tab Turner, who has called this case the worst violation he’s seen the U.S. government commit against a citizen in his decades of practice.
Thanks also to my intel sources–without whom I wouldn’t have even suspected a government computer intrusion–and to my many forensics experts who have spent countless hours recovering deleted data and finding the government’s fingerprints on it.[hr]