Sharyl Attkisson sues Justice Department over the hacking of her computers

Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson is suing the Deparment of Justice for illegal surveillance.  The suit alleges that the Justice Department (probably the FBI) hacked her computers and destroyed documents, tried to plant documents to incriminate her, and illegally monitored her internet communications.

Fox News:

In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. 

"I just think it's important to send a message that people shouldn't be victimized and throw up their hands and think there's nothing they can do and they're powerless," Attkisson said in an interview. 

The department has steadfastly denied any involvement in the hacking, saying in a 2013 statement: "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." 

In the lawsuit and related claims against the Postal Service, filed in Washington, Attkisson says the intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account. 

The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have "pretty good evidence" that these efforts were "connected" to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a "Catch-22," forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the "John Does" named in the complaints. 

"The Justice Department has not been very forthcoming with questions," she said. "The question is, will anybody ever be held responsible?" 

The multimillion-dollar damage figure relates to her loss of privacy and that of her husband and family, she said. 

Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe.

If it was the FBI who illegally monitored her communications, it will be very difficult to ascertain who was involved.  Each and every claim of national security would have to be challenged, which is going to make the discovery process a very long, drawn out affair.  Unless Attkisson draws a bulldog of a judge who will use the full power of the bench to expedite matters, it will be years – if ever – before we learn the truth of what happened.

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