Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson testified in front of lawmakers on Tuesday about evidence she’d collected proving that the Obama administration illegally spied on her by planting remote access software on her home computer. Attkisson has long maintained that Obama officials were not only keeping tabs on her, but was actively pressuring her bosses at the network to “kill” stories she was pursuing that would not have been favorable to the president. Unfortunately, she told the House Oversight and Reform Committee, despite her evidence of wrongdoing, the Department of Justice has taken no steps to investigate the scandal.
“There’s an actual fingerprint on the software that is used for this that they recognize themselves — or that can be recognized — that it’s very unique,” she told the committee. “It’s a government proprietary software. And not only that, they didn’t just look at my computer records, according to forensics. They planted three classified documents in my computer, they had a keystroke monitoring program in there, they used Skype — which was on my computer — to secretly activate it to exfiltrate files and listen in on audio.”
All of this happened in 2012, as Attkisson was closing in on Benghazi reporting that would have been severely damaging to the administration and might have hurt the president’s chances in November. However, she noted that she didn’t think she was the only reporter the administration was spying on and intimidating in this fashion.
“I don’t believe I was unique in terms of the only journalist this happened to,” she said. “I was just one who found out about it because I had intel sources.”
The ramifications of Attkisson’s claims, if true, hardly need to be detailed. The idea that our government would spy on journalists and go to these lengths to hide secrets from the public…well, it’s the kind of thing conspiracy theories are made of. Unfortunately, since Attkisson’s story is solid, her reputation in journalism unblemished, and there is no reason to believe she had a partisan axe to grind against the Obama administration. It is also worth noting that she has been telling this story for years, and has not once deviated from the details.
But if the ramifications regarding the Obama administration are troubling, it may even be more disturbing to take a look at what happened to Attkisson once her case went before DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
She turned to Horowitz in 2013, asking him to examine one of her laptops. For a while, an internal investigation seemed to be proceeding smoothly. Then things took a strange turn. After finishing the investigation, the IG refused to let Attkisson see the final report and ignored her Freedom of Information Act request. Ultimately, Horowitz released a “wiped summary that implied there had been no intrusion.” No comprehensive report accompanied this summary; the details remain hidden to this day.
“In addition to somebody changing the scope of the IG investigation midstream, and the office withholding from me the notes and the report on my own complaint, somebody also switched out my hard drive before the IG returned it to me,” she testified. “What does all this mean to the integrity of the DOJ’s inspector general?”
That’s a question we might all want to keep in mind – Horowitz is, after all, the man currently investigating the DOJ’s FISA abuse scandal. Is he really interested in exposing the truth? Or is he just another DOJ lackey, looking to protect the department by any means necessary?