Justice Department IG disputes Attkisson hacking claims

The Department of Justice inspector general has issued a report that disputes many of the claims made by cormer CBS news investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson that her computers were hacked by the FBI and other government agencies.  "The OIG’s investigation was not able to substantiate the allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusion by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise,” reads the report.

In her book “Stonewalled,” Attkisson had issued a wide-ranging set of claims — that her CBS News work computers and her personal computer had been hacked, that a strange wire was found hanging from the cable TV/broadband box outside of her home and that her phone service went fuzzy. The inspector general’s report found that the cable in question was a “common” cable used by Attkisson’s broadband provider. Here’s how the report sums up the situation:

Lastly, Attkisson reported to the OIG that a “suspicious” cable was attached to her Internet Service Provider’s connection box installed on her house. She opined to the OIG that perhaps this cable was being used to “tap” her house. Further investigation by the OIG revealed that the cable was a common cable used by the provider and could not be used to monitor or otherwise affect the phone or internet service at her residence.

And in response to Attkisson’s videotape of an alleged hacker deleting content from her computer screen, the report says that the activity was caused by “the back space key being stuck.”

I don't have the technical know-how to critique these findings, but in all my years of fooling around with computers, I have never, ever had a key that got stuck.  That keyboard must have been in rancid shape for that sort of thing to happen – like Attkisson spilled a soft drink on it or something.  It's just not a credible explanation to me.

The report also tries to debunk some other charges by Attkisson:

• When it evaluated Attkisson’s iMac computer, the IG’s office noted something awry: “The OIG’s forensic examination further found what appeared to be searches and queries performed by an examiner with knowledge of computer logs; however, it appeared that the searches and queries were conducted while the computer was in operation and without write protecting the drive, which altered file information. This method of forensic examination is not forensically sound nor is it in accordance with best practices.”

• In summer 2014, the IG asked for a copy of the report prepared by the technician who examined her iMac, or at least to speak with said technician. Attkisson responded, “My attorney says our material isn’t yet in a form that’s ready to share.”

• No FBI case. As part of the IG’s probe, it asked if the FBI if it had an open case involving Attkisson. No, came the answer: Attkisson is not and has not been under investigation by the FBI.

• CBS News examination? Counsel for CBS News told the inspector general’s office that the network didn’t commission any forensic studies of Attkisson’s personal computer. “Attkisson, however, continued to stand by her statement to the OIG that CBS News sent a technician to her house to examine her iMac computer on February 2, 2013,” reads the report.

Some of this analysis makes it seem as if the technician who performed the examination of Attkisson's computers didn't know what he was doing.  I find that unlikely, unless she just asked a friend who knew something of computers to take a look.  And CBS is still standing behind her contention that she was hacked, although why they wouldn't turn over her computers to DoJ is a mystery.

The report answers some questions, while raising others.  The truth will likely never be fully known – which is just the way the government wants it.

The Department of Justice inspector general has issued a report that disputes many of the claims made by cormer CBS news investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson that her computers were hacked by the FBI and other government agencies.  "The OIG’s investigation was not able to substantiate the allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusion by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise,” reads the report.

In her book “Stonewalled,” Attkisson had issued a wide-ranging set of claims — that her CBS News work computers and her personal computer had been hacked, that a strange wire was found hanging from the cable TV/broadband box outside of her home and that her phone service went fuzzy. The inspector general’s report found that the cable in question was a “common” cable used by Attkisson’s broadband provider. Here’s how the report sums up the situation:

Lastly, Attkisson reported to the OIG that a “suspicious” cable was attached to her Internet Service Provider’s connection box installed on her house. She opined to the OIG that perhaps this cable was being used to “tap” her house. Further investigation by the OIG revealed that the cable was a common cable used by the provider and could not be used to monitor or otherwise affect the phone or internet service at her residence.

And in response to Attkisson’s videotape of an alleged hacker deleting content from her computer screen, the report says that the activity was caused by “the back space key being stuck.”

I don't have the technical know-how to critique these findings, but in all my years of fooling around with computers, I have never, ever had a key that got stuck.  That keyboard must have been in rancid shape for that sort of thing to happen – like Attkisson spilled a soft drink on it or something.  It's just not a credible explanation to me.

The report also tries to debunk some other charges by Attkisson:

• When it evaluated Attkisson’s iMac computer, the IG’s office noted something awry: “The OIG’s forensic examination further found what appeared to be searches and queries performed by an examiner with knowledge of computer logs; however, it appeared that the searches and queries were conducted while the computer was in operation and without write protecting the drive, which altered file information. This method of forensic examination is not forensically sound nor is it in accordance with best practices.”

• In summer 2014, the IG asked for a copy of the report prepared by the technician who examined her iMac, or at least to speak with said technician. Attkisson responded, “My attorney says our material isn’t yet in a form that’s ready to share.”

• No FBI case. As part of the IG’s probe, it asked if the FBI if it had an open case involving Attkisson. No, came the answer: Attkisson is not and has not been under investigation by the FBI.

• CBS News examination? Counsel for CBS News told the inspector general’s office that the network didn’t commission any forensic studies of Attkisson’s personal computer. “Attkisson, however, continued to stand by her statement to the OIG that CBS News sent a technician to her house to examine her iMac computer on February 2, 2013,” reads the report.

Some of this analysis makes it seem as if the technician who performed the examination of Attkisson's computers didn't know what he was doing.  I find that unlikely, unless she just asked a friend who knew something of computers to take a look.  And CBS is still standing behind her contention that she was hacked, although why they wouldn't turn over her computers to DoJ is a mystery.

The report answers some questions, while raising others.  The truth will likely never be fully known – which is just the way the government wants it.