The following is an update of the Sharyl Attkisson lawsuit against federal agents for the illegal spying of her while she was a CBS News investigative correspondent.
It has gone virtually unrecognized that I have received an historic clerk's default in my lawsuit over the government's illegal spying into the computers belonging to me and my family. The default was granted to us against a former federal employee who took part in the spy operation while working with a group of federal agents out of the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore, Maryland. As far as we can tell, it is the first such court victory involving a journalist spied on by the government.
When the full case is over, the judge will hopefully proceed with a damages trial to determine what the former federal agent owes to me and my family. Considering that he is unlikely to have funds, the point will be more the idea of finally holding a guilty party accountable for his illegal actions than getting any form of financial redress. According to one federal employee involved in some of the illegal surveillance, I was far from alone. Government agents were spying on many journalists and other U.S. citizens. I just happened to have sources who alerted me and helped me obtain forensic proof. Most people don't have access to such sources. Had the guilty agents in my case been held accountable years ago, we might not have seen the rampant, documented abuses by the intel community in subsequent years.
Meantime, we are still moving forward with the suit against another ex-federal agent (a former Secret Service agent who eventually served prison time for unrelated corruption regarding his work out of the same U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore), and other unnamed officials whose names are yet to be revealed but will hopefully come through discovery in the case.
I have learned a hard fact about the court system and process. It's not enough to prove the government spied on me. We've had that forensic evidence for years and it's irrefutable. It's more a game of figuring out how to get the case to trial so that justice can be served. Laws passed by Congress, and court precedence, offer every protection to the guilty federal agents in ways that probably weren't intended. First, the federal employees and their supervisors have broad immunity for their actions. Second, the burden of what's required to get a case to court is unrealistically high. For example, the courts ask that we provide the names of the guilty parties prior to getting full discovery, but we need full discovery to learn the names of the guilty parties.
And there's a third important issue we're dealing with now. To be able to question current and ex-government employees who have information on the computer intrusions so that we have evidence to take to trial, we must first obtain permission from the government, which is the guilty party.
To be able to question current and ex-government employees who have information on the computer intrusions so that we have evidence to take to trial, we must first obtain permission from the government, which is the guilty party.Sharyl Attkisson
As you might expect, the government is saying "no" to our request to depose or question the federal officials who uniquely hold information and answers to questions that must be asked in order for our case to continue to trial.
As my attorney Tab Turner puts it:
The present situation is unique because the very agencies that investigated the Attkisson allegations happen to be part of the agencies implicated in the surveillance to begin with, a situation that is not only uncommon, but virtually unheard of when one uses words like fair, just, and reasonable. The problem is compounded when the witnesses and evidence we now seek access to happens to be in the hands of some of the very agencies who are refusing to cooperate. Some would fairly conclude that this situation is no different than a judge ruling on his or her own case; a police officer investigating him or herself; or an umpire calling his or her own balls and strikes. Although none of these metaphors may in actuality be realistic, it is the classic situation where the appearance of impropriety takes over simply because it is what is appears. It just tastes bad and smells bad. Why is that important? The Attkissons feel it is important to justification because our system of justice is designed to seek the truth, which cannot be done without full disclosure, especially in a situation such as this where the very agencies refusing to cooperate are the same ones implicated in the alleged misconduct.Attorney Tab Turner in Attkisson v. FBI
A just process would operate on common sense. Forensics show the government intruded upon my computers. The government will not prosecute itself, so the only option left to get accountability is for me to file a civil suit at my own expense. Common sense dictates that forensic proof should be enough to generate a promise from the government to find and punish the guilty parties, learn who else they spied on, and make the victims whole to the extent possible. Instead, the government is using taxpayer money to defend the guilty parties, obstruct the case, and try to dismiss it. The laws are written, whether intentionally or not, in a way that protects federal employees who commit crimes when it comes to lawsuits like mine that try to hold them accountable. The government has the benefit of unlimited funds and attorneys. The courts and the process seem to offer every advantage to the government over the ordinary citizen.
We fight on!
Want to help? Donate to Attkisson's Legal Fund here
Read more about Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI here.
Jim Cooley says
Non-partisan. What a joke.
Having been in the legal field for many years, I shake my head along with you, Sharyl. The court procedures and rules make real sense, but when it involves the federal government as a party or witness, for that matter, all bets are off and I hate that!
I can't help but wonder if you devote some space here and elsewhere to exposing the exact deeds of the govt culprit, what he/she did that was in violation. I assume you did that in your Complaint. Might this exposure move the public which might move the government? If the culprit threatens suit for defamation, then game on? Anyway, I write this only because of the shared frustration over the lack of government accountability and ethics. Best to you.
Nydra Karlen says
We had federal law enforcement. They were called US Marshals. Break up the FBI and move Intel like cyber CRIME under Marshals.
Our TAX $$s were used by FBI to PAY TWITTER employees to obscure truth that implicated them and lie about Trump.
Secondly, return to County Hospitals where my hairdresser & 7 siblings were born, received shots, set her broken arm & pronounced 2 brothers killed in car wreck as deceased.
At one point my doctor left private practice & went to work at County because she was starting a family & wanted regular hours.
Sharyl you are amazing.
Glenn Shaw says
The Fix Is Always In. They've had decades of Statues and Administrative law and precedent establishing the Fix. It's now in full time all the time. They're probably spying on your progress 😡
Red Shannon says
Congress has oversight of the executive (DOJ). Now would seem the time for Congress to move on behalf of your, and others', case against the FBI.
Except, thanks to McConnell et al, Congress's one big stick (the power of the purse) was sacrificed on the alter of the DC god of self-enrichment, Omnibus.
So, maybe in 2024. . . .
Not surprising it is the Baltimore US Atty’s office. Baltimore (birthplace of Nancy Pelosi) has long been a cesspool of corruption. The Baltimore FO of the FBI was deeply involved in Twittergate. Federal Agents should receive no special protection from civil or criminal offenses.
Yes! #1-My grandmother was born in Little Italy, Baltimore and she told me back in the 80's everyone knew Pelosi was corrupt becaue of her father's ties to the mob. #2-I see people on social media trying to convince others that Rod Rosenstein is not corrupt. He was SA for Maryland. That should tell you all you need to know about him.
You have "had that forensic evidence for years and it's irrefutable. It's more a game of figuring out how to get the case to trial so that justice can be served." Where are we seeing this...again?? When is comes to our broken justice system, a system I worked in for 33 years, it seems to grow more corrupt and totalitarian each year. Exactly what you'd expect from a Communist country and crime syndicate.
The "game" is rigged and that's just the way it is. Unless the American peole become so outraged that polticians start losing elections over it (unlikely in the extreme) then nothing much is likely to change. Perhaps the Supreme court could find such practices for what they are, a denial of due process and justice, and oversee the dismantling of the whole edifice that protects the guilty and damages their victims but this seems unlikely as well.
The basic problem is we have allowed the federal government to become far too large as it extends it's tentacles into every nook and cranny of American citizens lives. We are ultimatley all at fault. Fat and Happy, and blissfully ignorant, is fine with the majority!
what im shocked about the most is how docile your colleagues in the media are about all of this...almost like their silence is bought by the govt. i would have expected nightly rants and raves...zilch!!
Congratulations on your victory, albeit as late as is.
Very, very sad that your employer, CBS did not support you. (That says a lot about the corporate management).
Hopeful that some congressmen that have the power to change the laws that did not prevent this nightmare, will do something.
Right now, all we have is hope.
Gerald L Bailey says
That is great news. Now get the forensics on Obama and Biden beginning the alleged coup attempt on DT from 2015 until 01-02-2023
I can only imagine how stressful this is for you and your family.
I've long advocated for civilian oversight on powerful government agencies, like law enforcement. The members of the panel would have to go through some of the training (like use of force and self defense tactics, legal aspects) and do monthly ride-a-longs of at least 4 hours per shift and not less than 16 hours per month.
The panel , along with legal advisors, would review all use of force incidents as well as civilian complaints and other questionable actions. They would be able to make referrals for further investigation and be required to publish regular reports on their reviews.
I realize there are times when law enforcement may need to break a law to protect the public, such as a high speed chase to stop a person who may be an immediate threat to the community, those violations would be reviewed.
If the agency or officers are found to have violated the laws without good cause the offenders would face legal actions. This would include judges who blatantly violate the law, such as FISA judges who rubber stamp requests without doing their due diligence, or law enforcement who recruit and encourage criminal actions, or even law enforcement to take over a child porn site and leave it up and running to capture child predators. I suspect the child victims are no less victimized when the FBI distributes their photos/videos.
Chief Tutonka says
The DC uniparty and it's 3 letter agencies have no shame, are devoid of any integrity, and completely lawless. Stand your ground!
Geoff Seaman says
THe courts should be able to utilize equity jurisdiction to invoke a doctrine that when there is clear and convincing facts that there might be evidence that there is at least one person currently or formerly under the control of a government entity, who has preformed harmful acts that are beyond the scope of the government's authority, the court can stand in the shoes of the government entity and require that entity to disclose records of any nature and to have any potential source of information, currently or formerly under the direct or indirect control of that entity, to be deposed, thereby allowing plaintiffs to discover parties who might have been directly or indirectly be involved in such acts or discover evidence of records leading to the discover of same.. The court should be able to use its contempt powers to compel such;government entity to comply with any of the above.
Bob Kaluza says
Congratulations, Congratulations Sharyl!! What an exhausting fight!
Is it too much to expect that an employee of the Deep State be held accountable?
Bill Andrews says
This article ? Look into opetation Pegasis being over used ,used and abused around the World by all Governments ..? When you goofy people Travel over seas Don't take any devices with you and turn them on over there in other countries ... You think intrusions are abusive here ?? Remember it's your @$$ and I'll be pulling for ya ,poor fellow ??
Marco M says
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! Thanks so much for staying in this fight. You undoubtedly have struggled with wondering if all this is worth the blood, sweat, and tears. And lots of money.
But it's not all about you and you never lost sight of that by saying "I just happened to have sources who alerted me and helped me obtain forensic proof. Most people don't have access to such sources." You're fighting the good fight for all of us too - and we're behind you!
This is an encouraging positive step - even if it's one that's largely ignored by most everyone. But we've noticed and haven't forgotten your plight. Please stay in this fight for all of us and thanks for all you do!
Jack Shore says
All I can say from more and more recent observations, is that the American system of justice is much, much worse and less, less fair than we have been led to believe, not that our Canadian system is so great and without flaws. But what makes the American one so egregious is that reform seems to be impossible as long as both American politicians and the media continue to tout it, as if there are no serious problems...and this is without even getting into the dangers of no term limits and the immunity of politicians from insider trading laws. Do Americans realize this is going on or do they just give their tacit approval to it, as though it it has been allowed to exist, as unmentioned, as a special perk for politicians that the public may not be fully aware of. If Americans are aware, then they are getting the quality of politicians they deserve.