Sharyl Attkisson, the former CBS News correspondent, testified on Capitol Hill Thursday about her belief that the government hacked her computers while she was investigating Obama administration scandals.
“The message has already been received: if you cross the administration with perfectly accurate reporting that they don’t like: you will be attacked and punished,” Attkisson said Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “You and your sources may be subjected to the kind of surveillance devised for enemies of the state.”
At the opening of the hearing, chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Attkisson was appearing as a witness during attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s nomination hearings because Attkisson was “bullied, threatened and literally blocked from entering the Department of Justice because she had the guts to report on issues like Fast and Furious, and Benghazi.”
In her opening statement, Attkisson said: “I’ve been a reporter for 30 years at CBS News, PBS, CNN and in local news. My producers and I have probed countless political, corporate, charitable and financial stories ranging from Iraq contract waste and fraud under Bush to green energy waste under Obama to consumer stories relating to the drug industry.”
“When I reported on factual contradictions in the administration’s accounts regarding Fast and Furious, pushback included a frenzied campaign with White House officials trying to chill the reporting by calling and emailing my superiors and colleagues, and using surrogate bloggers to advance false claims,” Attkisson said. “One White House official got so mad, he angrily cussed me out.”
Attkisson, who has written about the computer hacking allegations in her book and is suing the Department of Justice over it, told the committee she is confident her computers were accessed by hackers. “I was tipped off that the government was likely secretly monitoring me due to my reporting,” she said.
“Three forensics exams confirmed intrusive, long-term remote surveillance,” Attkisson added. “That included keystroke monitoring, password capture, use of Skype to listen into audio and exfiltrate files, and more.”
The Justice Department has denied her claims: “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,” an official told Politico.
But during Thursday’s hearing, Attkisson lamented that “getting to the bottom” of the situation “hasn’t been easy.”
“The Justice Department has refused to answer simple, direct, written congressional questions about its knowledge of the case,” she said. “It has stonewalled my Freedom of Information requests, first claiming it had no documents, then eventually identifying 2,500 but never providing them.”