Rather than demanding accountability, we’ve slipped into a 1984 sort of acceptance. Public shock and outrage over the known government abuses has morphed into a numb acceptance: Of course the government watches all of us.Sharyl Attkisson, Nonpartisan Investigative Journalist
Copied below is nonpartisan investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson's opening statement at a May 11, 2022 hearing on FBI misconduct.
Attkisson has an ongoing lawsuit regarding the government's spying on her and her family's computers while she was a CBS News correspondent.
Read more about Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI here.
James O'Keefe of Project Veritas also testified. He is being assisted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in his case over FBI misconduct.
The hearing can be seen at the following link:
Sharyl Attkisson statement on May 11, 2022 at Freedomworks Congressional hearing
Our intelligence agencies, including the FBI, are made up of public servants paid with public money. They operate largely in the dark. Many do an awesome job.
Unfortunately, even the little evidence that’s become public reveals disturbing facts: there are agents and officials who are capable of great abuses-- and it’s not rare. And too often the whistleblowers get punished, while the abusers and criminals get a pass. The implicit message is lost on no one.
In 2001 under FBI Director Robert Mueller, new rules called Woods Procedures were imposed to stop FBI agents who’d repeatedly gotten caught submitting false information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on U.S. citizens.
The new protections require the FBI, all the way to the top, to strictly verify each fact in a wiretap application. But 15 years later we learned, after the fact, the FBI was still routinely violating these procedures likely on thousands of wiretaps. What’s come of the misconduct and possible crimes implicating at least dozens of agents and officials, probably a lot more? Virtually nothing. Even Mueller stayed oddly silent on the FBI misconduct he surely would have uncovered in his 2017 investigation. Have those whose information was improperly obtained been notified and their illegally gathered improperly gathered information disclosed to them or destroyed? No.
In 2002, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake revealed the agency was “fine [tuning] a new scale of mass surveillance” conducting “blanket surveillance” of “virtually all electronic communications going into or out” of Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics. What came of that? The whistleblower was prosecuted for mishandling documents.
In 2009, FBI whistleblower Shamai Leibowitz accused intel agencies of serious constitutional violations and illegal “abuse of power.” What came of that? He was prosecuted for leaking to the media.
As the government secretly expanded its surveillance powers in the name of national security, we discovered officials were even listening in on members of Congress— sometimes political rivals.
Someone illegally leaked information about private calls made by Democrats Jane Harman and Dennis Kucinich, and even leaked actual recordings of Kucinich calls with Libyan officials.
Government agents targeted journalists, too, with secret surveillance and subpoenas against then Fox News reporter James Rosen and 20 Associated Press reporters, and they secretly intruded upon and remotely monitored my computers and devices while I worked at CBS News.
An internal email by a global intelligence firm laid some blame at the feet of then Homeland Security adviser John Brennan. The 2010 email read:
“Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources. There is specific tasker from the [White House] to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda.”
As far as I know, no Congressional committee or law enforcement agency bothered to investigate that, or even call and ask the authors of the email where they got their information.
Brennan went on to head up the CIA where questions continued to build.
Under his watch, five CIA officials improperly searched through staff emails of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Brennan denied it — but apologized after the CIA Inspector General investigated in 2014 and confirmed it had happened.
In a Senate hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied there was any mass surveillance on innocent U.S. citizens. A short time later, in June 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden proved Clapper’s testimony false.
Between Snowden and WikiLeaks, the lid was blown off how massive and intrusive the government’s surveillance dragnet had grown.
Among other things, we learned intel officials had secretly granted themselves permission to not just spy on US citizens, a practice once considered strictly, constitutionally, off limits… but they had instituted a generous “two hop rule.” That means through a single warrant, government agents could capture phone calls, texts, emails and bank records from people “two hops" away: all of the wiretapped person’s contacts— “one hop” —and everybody who contacts those people or even visits their Facebook pages or websites—two hops.
In this way, one analysis found intel agencies could use one legal wiretap to access to 25,000 people’s phones. Consider at least a half dozen Trump officials were caught in the FBI surveillance dragnet, according to news reports; each one would enable intel officials to listen in on Trump without ever getting a legal wiretap on him.
How is it that America can find itself in a position so chillingly similar to that in North Korea and the former Soviet Union where people believe government intel agencies are untouchable… not serving the public good but to be feared… more powerful than any entity that would watchdog or control them?
Calling them “the world's most powerful intelligence agencies,” Snowden noted they are “such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they'll get you in time.”
President-elect Donald Trump received a similar warning from Senate leader Chuck Schumer after Trump criticized sitting intelligence officials. “You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer said.
Sure enough, as Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found, the FBI and “three separate hand-picked investigative teams” committed egregious errors in targeting Trump associates for investigation and surveillance during the 2016 campaign.
Meantime, less than two weeks before the 2016 election, the FISA Court’s lead judge Rosemary Collyer secretly slammed Obama intel officials for a series of surveillance violations. In a document made public after the election, she accused the NSA of “institutional lack of candor, a very serious Fourth Amendment issue” and demanded fixes.
We learned Obama officials secretly listened in on conversations between Trump officials and others, including at Trump Tower; and wiretapped Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page for a year, continuing the surveillance under President Trump. To get the wiretap, an FBI lawyer doctored a document. Think of the institutional corruption this betrayal of public trust requires. Once revealed, it was treated as if it were little more than a jaywalking violation. The FBI attorney, Kevin Clinesmith, was allowed to plead to a minor charge with no prison sentence with no apparent effort to hold those who took part accountable.
And the FBI used evidence that turned out to be unverified political opposition research bought by the Clinton campaign and delivered to the FBI and the media. The FBI response seems to be, “How are we, the FBI, to be expected to check the sources of political information that comes to us from political operatives?”
Since then, in speeches and Congressional testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray falsely claimed there’s never been any abuses of surveillance authority known as “702” although the court has documented numerous examples.
And we’ve remained successfully distracted by one intel propaganda campaign after another. Snowden is charged with three felonies in his absence from the U.S. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been destroyed. And the information both of them revealed — is seemingly deposited down the memory hole.
Snowden described his worst fear as that people will see “the lengths the government is going to to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society but they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”
Rather than demanding accountability, we’ve slipped into a 1984 sort of acceptance. Public shock and outrage over the known government abuses has morphed into a numb acceptance: Of course the government watches all of us.
After CBS News officially announced the spy operation against me, I attended an investigative journalism conference where one executive from each major news network pulled me aside and told me they felt certain the government was surveilling them, too. Imagine how this impacts what we report, what our bosses allow us to report.
The institutions responsible persist long beyond any sngle administration. I don’t know how at this late date these problems can be fixed, short of reinventing our intelligence infrastructure and of course depending on who reinvents it, matters could become even worse.
We do know one thing: the current path leads only to continued escalation in abuses.
Want to help? Donate to Attkisson's Legal Fund here
We aren't dumb. We are censored.
Ed. Roob says
Thanks for having guts enough to report this.. Would like to think that one of our political parties would take it upon themselves to have a congressional investigation of your charges. --Good Luck with that --. Hope you don't fall victim to Schumer's curse. Please keep up your good work.
Thank you for standing up for what is taken for granted: Freedom! Any savvy student of journalism and history knows that the Press has often been used to promote the goals and initiatives of a ruling class; and yet, since 1963 (and the Church Senate Hearings, in 1975) many intrepid reporters and authors (such as Jim Marrs and Bill Cooper) have been warning the American people about the emergence of a bloated bureaucratic security surveillance state. Professor Dale Scott has been on the case for many years as well. If you want to keep something a secret--hide it in a book. The 'mockingbird' program has made a mockery of the Fourth Estate. Without a legitimate Free Press, there is zero possibility for the Constitutional Republic (or any semblance of any democratic process) to endure. What has evolved during the 1984-dystopian Orwellian nightmare is double-think and double-speak, aka 'Inversion.' Nowadays, when the Media and Politicians speak about threats to Democracy what they are really saying is: Dissent is a threat to Oligarchy and the establishment (deep state.)
Glenn Shaw says
Great summary testimony of the current state of affairs. Congress has delegated it's oversight to the folks they are supposed to be overseeing. They have no stomach to retrieve it.
Greg Hill says
I bet we could make a lot of progress in battling such misconduct -- not only within the FBI but across the board including Fauci's NIAID -- simply by setting term limits on every non-elected position within the entire Executive branch at all levels. Ten years sounds reasonable to me. That would not be just ten years in any given position or within any given department. It would be ten years total working for the federal government in any position or combination of positions. It would be impossible for anybody to make a career out of working for the federal government in any non-elected capacity, from department Secretaries all the way down to janitors. Of course we could also benefit from term limits on elected positions as well, just like we now have for President, but that's a different story.
Bill Andrews says
Good Job Sharyl you and Agent Mulder ( CBS ) have revealed the agenda X files much like the characters in the Tv series the X-Files. Seems like to me these people got there priorities all wromg instead of spying on us all there missing out on a lot of cyber crime lost money ? They should be using all that sophisticated software and servers to go after all the bad guys attaching malicious links to websites and other online Data Launders violating everbodies rights in cyber crime activities in the background ?? " The Truth is out there..!
Bruce Williamson says
"...The institutions responsible persist long beyond any sngle administration..."(original copied verbatim) That's the issue isn't it? Politicians, be they a member of the House or the President are temporary. Even if they wanted information, they don't have the need to know and they'll never get it since technically they're private citizens with a temporary government job.
We have to ask how is it that Clappers testimony is contradicted by Snowden's and no one has investigated it? How can we assure that the government and its agents are truthful and act with integrity? How is it that Fauci isn't investigated for providing contradictory statements regarding Covid transmissibility with one statement being provided under oath?
I used to think that term limits were the answer, but that would mean that every few years we would have someone who would have to learn his new position in the government, which would take time. The better way might be to have the people who are involved in illegality be prosecuted! If anyone prosecuted someone for telling the truth, they would get a lengthy sentence.
Bob Lee says
Please “follow the money “ on this Uvalde, Texas kid that shot up the school.
Those guns, ammo, and truck would not have been cheap and I’m doubting a father who dug post holes, or an elderly grandma would have had the resources to give this kid the money.
Something stinks to high heaven about this story.
Especially since it’s dominated the news in the days of Davos, continuing illegal border activity, Georgia election that again had all kinds of inconsistencies, etc., etc.
Thanks for what you do.
God bless you and your family.
Sharyl, I always thought your reporting and interviews were well prepared and very balanced. I can't think of anyone else I can say that about now a days. I do think it is too late to turn the tide here in the U.S.. with corporate corruption of D.C. beyond what most people can imagine or want to imagine. I am a retiree and after watching the horrendous way our government sold out to big pharma and healthcare collapsed and doctors were in lock step otherwise they would lost their licenses, we can't even count on our own doctors to protect us. Even my daughter thinks I am into conspiracies since to look closer I think would be too much to accept. She worked so hard to get where she is and now to have to admit she is part of the problem not the solution would be too much. I want to leave the U.S. on ok retirement but not lavish by any means. Husband is a teacher. Where do we go? I don't trust our healthcare system and my husband retires in two years so I need to make a decision before I get locked into medicare and supplemental plan. I am too old and tired to fight the good fight here and besides so many my age are scratching by and don't have the luxury to spend time and money fighting against corporate corruption of our important systems. I want to live in peace and it is eroding here month by month. I now hear they have been putting mRNA vaccines in pork in this county for years for swine flu and now this month they plan to do that with beef. It just never ends all the scams and secrecy. My father fought in the Korean war and my father in law fought in WWII, this is not what they risked their lives for. They would be appalled to learn how bad things have gotten. I am not part of any party since they both are sellouts. Is there a country that is welcoming that want decent people to join them to bring their money and support? I now have health issues from taking 3 covid shots and wished I had not taken one. They lied to us. We were duped beyond anything imaginable. I lost all loyalty to a country that would harm so many like they did. The greed is horrific. If you were to leave the U.S. where would you go and why? I am sure it has crossed your mind as well but I think you can afford better than I can. I had Icelandic grandparents and Swedish grandmother and these countries tend to respect women more and took swift action when things got bad. Iceland made their banks close up and now the government runs the banks after they pushed them into bankruptcy. Here we just bail banks out. I do see the U.S. getting into a war with China and I want to be gone before that happens. This will be more a war about oligarchs wanting complete control than anything else. I see that passports are now in big demand and they say because people want to travel but I think there are many like myself who want to get out of this crazy place. I read that Chinese dissidents who moved here say what they are seeing here is what happened to China years ago and they are warning us but I think there is too much money involved to turn the train around on all this. The fact that the FBI hacked your computers is scary stuff and maybe they have hacked me too. Why are they scared of the truth? With legal system broken, healthcare is broken, economy is broken, financial system is broken there only seem to be a glimmer of hope holding it all together now and that hope is fading. Where do good people go now? I now have covid and those three vaccines still doesn't prevent me from spreading it and it didn't prevent me from getting it, but it has messed up my health for believing in such a corrupt system. They refuse to come clean on this and I am done with waiting for justice here. It will never come in my lifetime.