The Attkisson angle

Around the time late last week that I complained of the lack of media interest in Sharyl Attkisson’s lawsuit against Eric Holder et al. for the intrusions into her computers, the Daily Beast posted a good account by Lloyd Grove in “Ex-CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s battle royale with the feds.”

Grove asserts that the Justice Department and the Postal Service “pushed back hard against Attkisson’s allegations.” Grove quotes the Justice Department spokesman: “We stand by our statement from 2013. For reference, a department spokesman in 2013 issued a statement as follows: ‘To our knowledge, the Justice Department has never compromised Ms. Attkisson’s computers, or otherwise sought any information from or concerning any telephone, computer or other media device she may own or use.’”

As Attkisson has pointed out, and as she asserts to Grove, that isn’t much of a response. In Stonewalled, Attkisson characterizes the Justice Department statement as a quasi-denial. Grove also quotes Attkisson to the effect that the Postal Service’s response is “purposely vague.”

As Attkisson recounts in her memoir, the just retired Senator Tom Coburn took up Attkisson’s issues directly with Eric Holder over the past year and received one classic nonresponse response and one outright failure to respond. Grove now quotes Coburn:

Coburn, who said he used his staff from the Select Committee on Intelligence to investigate Attkisson’s personal computer, told the Daily Beast: “CBS wouldn’t let us look at the [office] computer, but on the one we did look at, we found programs that are not available anywhere else except to a very few people.” While he stopped short of linking the discovered programs to a federal agency, Coburn said: “I think she [Attkisson] has got a legitimate claim. I think her civil rights were violated.”

Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple posted an item on Attkisson’s lawsuit here last week as well. The Post has in addiition posted a copy of Attkisson’s complaint, filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Attkisson’s complaint asserts claims against the government for violation of her constitutional rights. Wemple quotes from the complaint in his post on the question of responsibility:

Among other findings, Ms. Attkisson’s computer forensics expert has identified an unauthorized communications channel opened into her Toshiba laptop directly connected to an Internet Provider (IP) address belonging to a federal agency, specifically the United States Postal Service, indicating unauthorized surveillance.” The complaint alleges that the postal service has a “strong relationship with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and DOJ when conducting computer forensic actions.”

The complaint is must reading and I urge interested readers to take a look.


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