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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.”
The following is an opinion article
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.
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.”
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
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.
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
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 healthcare.gov 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.
Example of government healthcare.gov documents provided in FOIA lawsuit (with extensive redactions).
APPEAL OF FBI DENIAL OF ATTKISSON FILE
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.
2008 December: President Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. 2009 Jan. 13: Reports say the clintonemail.com domain was established. Jan. 21: Senate confirms Clinton as secretary of state. March 18: Clinton will later name this as the date she began using a private server for government business. 2012 Sept. 11: Islamic extremists launch […]