While national media feeds the clamoring around Democrat claims of foreign intervention in our elections, the foibles of a former FBI director and a president who tweets, most of us never hear of the real threat to Americans at the hands of our own government.
The 9-11 terror attacks ushered in government-approved surveillance laws that vastly expanded the government’s ability to spy on its own citizens. The laws also reduced checks and balances on those powers and limited judicial oversight.
We are forced to rely upon trusting a federal government with our personal information and communications because all of the activity is classified in back channels. Unfortunately, the government has not proven to be an honest broker. It’s a real life “House of Cards.”
One person who certainly knows the dangers of hidden, unleashed domestic spying is former CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. The following is assembled from Attkisson’s website, sharylattkisson.com.
In February of 2011, Attkisson began researching the Department of Justice (DOJ) “gun-walking” operation nicknamed “Fast and Furious,” a clandestine operation giving weapons to Mexican drug cartels, including the gun used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian.
After the story aired on The CBS Evening News, the government attempted to redirect the coverage, but Attkisson secured a March 2011 interview ATF special agent John Dodson who contradicted the government denials.
In desperation, the Obama White House recruited Democrat operative Eric Schultz to spin the narrative and to counter the House Oversight Committee’s investigation.
Obama’s U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, secretly leaked sensitive government information to retaliate against Dodson in the Fast and Furious case, but he was caught and resigned under investigation.
Undeterred, Attkisson reported on newly-uncovered memos that contradicted Attorney General Eric Holders’ denials about Fast and Furious.
Panicked, Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, emails White House operative Schultz calling Attkisson “out of control.” Schultz replied, “Her piece was really bad for the AG.”
By the end of 2011, the DOJ officially retracted a bogus letter it had offered to Congress in February which claimed Fast and Furious allegations of gun-walking were false.
In February of 2012, remote hackers secretly downloaded new spy software proprietary to a federal agency onto Attkisson’s CBS work computer. The software was secretly attached to a legitimate Hotmail email and downloaded in the background after a pop-up ad appeared.
A few months later, the DOJ and FBI announced an unprecedented effort to address what they called “national security-related cyber issues.” Then DOJ secretly and without notice seized personal and phone records of journalists from Associated Press.
By June 2012, the House of Representatives held Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to Fast and Furious.
Following the September 2012 terror attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, CBS begins airing Attkisson’s Benghazi stories from whistleblowers and government-linked confidential sources, noting that the Executive Branch is clamping down on leaks to reporters.
In December of 2012, two intelligence-connected sources separately suggest to Attkisson it’s likely she is under government surveillance due to her reporting. One source claims the public would be shocked to “learn the extent that the government is conducting surveillance of private citizens.”
This news prompted Attkisson to have a forensic exam of her computer and it showed the intruders attempted to cover their tracks and to erase evidence of their intrusion, leaving additional forensic evidence.
That same month, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who have classified knowledge as members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, publicly warned of the “back-door search loophole” or searches of incidental collection of innocent Americans.
In June 2013, the FBI secretly opened up an investigation on Attkisson. The FBI later withheld Attkisson’s FBI file in its entirety without explanation, and other documents, despite multiple Freedom of Information Act requests.
A month later, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologizes to Congress for his false testimony in March regarding widespread collection of data on Americans.
Later, the CIA Inspector General reveals that five CIA officials wrongly accessed Senate Intelligence Committee computers and searched certain staff emails, in direct contradiction to denials made in March by CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan apologizes to Senate staff.
In December 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration incidentally collected private communications by members of Congress while it spied on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In October 2016, at a closed-door hearing before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Obama administration disclosed that it had been violating surveillance safeguards, according to Circa.org. It disclosed that more than 5 percent of its searches of the NSA’s database violated safeguards promised in 2011.
In March 2017, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes publicly reveals evidence of U.S. citizens associated with President Trump being “incidentally” surveilled by Obama intelligence officials, noting that the names and information of the Trump associates were illegally used, mostly in November, December and January.
This is only a fraction of what you can find Attkisson’s website.
Steve Brown, Commissioner
Fayette County Board of Commissioners
Peachtree City, Ga.