Bookshelf update: Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled”

June 4, 2015

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

book cover attkisson stonewalled

 

Attkisson is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent roughly 20 years with CBS before leaving in 2014. For her determined pursuit of the truth and information government and corporate officials would rather keep hidden, she’s been called a “bulldog,” a term she regards as a compliment. While Stonewalled deals with the scandals and evasions of the Obama administration and its allies, Attkisson has a reputation as a bipartisan bulldog — a pain in the tuchus to Democrats and Republicans, alike. This is what a good journalist should be.

I’m about half-way through Stonewalled and, so far, it’s been equal parts enjoyable, infuriating, and even frightening. Before discussing scandals such as Fast and Furious and the Obamacare rollout, as well as the almost equally scandalous supine attitude of mainstream journalism toward the administration, Attkisson opens with the story of her discovery that her work and personal computers, and her phone, had been hacked by a government agency during her investigation into the Benghazi massacre. Though she hasn’t yet identified in the book who she believes is responsible, I’ll note that she has filed suit against  the Department of Justice and the US Postal Service. Discovery, as they say should be interesting.

I’m reading her book in Kindle format; it’s also in soft (forthcoming) and hardcover. Regarding the Kindle edition, I’ve spotted just one lone typo and no formatting problems, which is very good for an e-book. Her writing style is straightforward, almost Hemingway-esque in its directness. If Ms. Attkisson reveals any ax to grind, it’s her firm belief that information paid for with taxpayer dollars belongs to the public, not the government.

I’ll post a review when I’ve finished.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. Wouldn’t you?

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Is the White House press office hiding Obama’s #Benghazi photos, @PressSec?

December 24, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

That’s the accusation made by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

“If you know how the White House works, a photographer is omnipresent,” Attkisson said. “He would have been there taking photographs in the Situation Room. He would have been taking photographs of the president that night. So we asked for the photos, which in my view, are public information. They are paid for with tax dollars, and they release them when they want them released and they are positive . The photo office indicated initially, this was probably in October or November 2012, that we could have the photos at the end of the day and that never materialized. They suddenly started referring us a White House deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, who is now press secretary. And they said Josh would have to approve it, and he would never return a call or e-mail. We would try to maintain communication with him or try to make communication with him over a long period of time, and he wouldn’t even answer. We would go to the press, photographer’s office and say you have given us an impossible task, you have told us to talk to someone who will not talk to us. You need to give us another route to follow to try and get these photos, and they would say no, you have to talk to Josh Earnest. So that just went down a dead-end road…”

Attkisson’s right, this is public property and should be subject to Freedom of Information Act rules. And it’s not as if the White House has ever been shy about releasing photos of Obama in other situations. Quite the opposite. There are, for example, well-known photos of Obama observing the mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden. And, if you think back there were plenty of photos of President Bush and the White House staff dealing with the crisis of the 9-11 attacks.

So why none of President Obama on what was arguably one of the most dramatic nights of his administration, when Americans in the nation’s service were fighting for their lives?

It’s just a guess, but I suspect the reason is that their revelation would seriously embarrass Obama, who (again, guessing) left it to Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey to handle things while he “arranged things” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in order to preserve their deal. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was important and just went to bed, which in its own way would be equally embarrassing. So, just as the LA Times sits on the Rashid Khalidi tape, the White House press office has deep-sixed those photos (1) to spare Obama public disgrace.

Someday they’ll come out. Just not while Obama is in office and Josh Earnest is his press secretary.

via Max Abrahms

Footnote:
(1) If they exist. Admitting they don’t would be just as bad for Obama, since it would also be an admission that he wasn’t doing anything worth recording that night.


Did the government hack Sharyl Attkisson’s computers and set her up for a frame job?

October 27, 2014

sharyl attkisson

That’s the explosive accusation in the former CBS investigative reporter’s forthcoming memoir, previewed in the New York Post:

Attkisson says the source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her the computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.”

The breach was accomplished through an “otherwise innocuous e-mail” that Attkisson says she got in February 2012, then twice “redone” and “refreshed” through a satellite hookup and a Wi-Fi connection at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The spyware included programs that Attkisson says monitored her every keystroke and gave the snoops access to all her e-mails and the passwords to her financial accounts.

“The intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool,” she wrote in “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

And if that’s not bad enough:

But the most shocking finding, she says, was the discovery of three classified documents that Number One told her were “buried deep in your operating system. In a place that, unless you’re a some kind of computer whiz specialist, you wouldn’t even know exists.”

The logical conclusion is that those documents were planted to serve as a reason to prosecute Attkisson, should she ever prove too troublesome. And she has been a thorn in the paw of the administration for several years, digging deeply and doggedly both into the Benghazi and Fast and Furious scandals. Fortunately (from the government’s point of view), CBS was willing to run interference, until it got to the point that Attkisson felt she had no choice but to resign.

Like I said, these are explosive allegations if true, and Attkisson is putting her reputation on the line by making them. (One should note that her source remains unidentified.) At the very least, this calls for a congressional investigation into the administration’s possible persecution of some in the media. (Let’s not forget how they went after FOX News’ James Rosen and the AP.) Sadly, one cannot trust the current Justice Department to investigate the matter fairly.

“Nixonian” doesn’t begin to describe the White House under Obama.

RELATED: Power Line calls this potentially one of the biggest scandals in US history and suggests Ms. Attkisson hire a top lawyer.


The real #waronwomen: higher costs under #Obamacare

October 19, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

From investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, a personal story:

Not even the medicos can afford insurance under our new glorious regime:

The husband had lost his job, so it became easier for them to just pay the penalty-tax-whatever than wreck their finances trying to afford “affordable insurance.”

Check the archives under “Obamacare,” and you’ll find many examples of people being harmed by this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law.

Which only Democrats voted to pass, I’ll remind you.


Some excellent questions for the #IRS about Lois Lerner’s missing emails

June 15, 2014
x

IRS data recovery techie in action

My blog-buddy ST has already covered the mysterious disappearance of former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s emails. I’m sure the Justice Department, per Congressman Camp’s suggestion, will get right to investigating how this could happen, in apparent violation  of standard IRS protocols. Attorney General Eric Holder, that unquestioned paragon of judicial integrity, will no doubt produce a report that lays bare the unvarnished truth.

And while we’re waiting for a certain hot spot to freeze over, independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has some suggested questions for the IRS about Ms. Lerner’s computers and those vanishing emails:

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

Also read Attkisson’s earlier report on the missing emails.

Since AG Holder will no doubt be busy with his own line of inquiry (1), I offer my own suggestion: these would be excellent questions to include as part of the investigations by a House Select Committee formed to examine the entire IRS scandal. We already have one for Benghazi; why not another? I’d say it’s more than warranted.

How about it, Mr. Speaker?

PS: Lest anyone harbor any smidgen of doubt that the IRS is lying on this matter, consider this observation from Tax Politix (h/t Rick Moran):

Again, the IRS claims it only “has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame…it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” The ability for an inbox to lose certain emails during the time frame — but not others — is incredible.

To answer an old question, we at least now know how stupid they think we are.

Footnote:
(1) Stonewalling takes time, you know.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Benghazi: State Dept. knew within hours that it was a terrorist attack

May 5, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

And not a demonstration. I don’t know how I missed this over the weekend (1), but the administration’s favorite investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, posted this little bombshell to her site back on the 1st (via Hot Air):

Internal Emails: State Dept. Immediately Attributed Benghazi Attacks to Terrorist Group

A newly-released government email indicates that within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya; the State Department had already concluded with certainty that the Islamic militia terrorist group Ansar al Sharia was to blame.

The private, internal communication directly contradicts the message that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated publicly over the course of the next several weeks. They often maintained that an anti-Islamic YouTube video inspired a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into violence.

The email is entitled “Libya update from Beth Jones. ” Jones was then-Assistant Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. According to the email, Jones spoke to Libya’s Ambassador at 9:45am on Sept. 12, 2012 following the attacks.

“When [the Libyan Ambassador] said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told him the group that conducted the attacks—Ansar Al Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists,” Jones reports in the email.

There is no uncertainty assigned to the assessment, which does not mention a video or a protest. The State Department provided the email to Congress in Aug. of 2013 under special conditions that it not be publicly released at that time. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sought and received permission to release it Thursday.

“If the video was a cause, why did Beth Jones of the State Department tell the Libyan Ambassador that Ansar Al Sharia was responsible for the attack?” said Chaffetz.

Gosh, that’s a darned good question Rep. Chaffetz asks. Do you think the forthcoming House special investigative committee on the Benghazi massacre might want to ask that of Ms. Jones, too?

There’s much more in the article about the origin of the controversial “talking points” and the subsequent effort to push the false narrative about a video being the goad for the attack, but I want to draw your attention to the routing of Jones’ email. These are the people copied in:

Among those copied on the emails: Deputy Secretary William Burns; Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman; Jake Sullivan, then-Deputy Chief of Staff (now promoted to national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden); Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy; Cheryl Mills, then-Secretary Clinton’s Chief of Staff (now on the board of directors of the global investment firm BlackRock); and Victoria Nuland, then-State Dept. spokesperson (now promoted to Asst. Secretary of State). 

Note particularly the name of Cheryl Mills. We’ve met her before, a couple of times. A longtime Clintonista, she has the reputation of being “Hillary’s fixer.” She was also, as Attkisson reminds us, the Secretary’s chief of staff. If Mills had this information, not to mention the other bigwigs on that list, then it is inconceivable that Hillary herself did not know that it was her department’s firm opinion that the attack was caused by Ansar al Sharia. Add this to the fact that she spoke with the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya that night  and then think about her promising the bereaved relatives of the victims, just a few days later and as their bodies were being delivered home, that the US would get the video maker. (2)

This wasn’t a case of honestly believing something that turned out to be false. Hillary Clinton was lying to heartbroken people and knew she was lying.

I can’t wait for these hearings to get started. Hillary is going to find out that, at this point, the truth still makes a difference.

RELATED: More Attkisson – Did Tommy “Dude” Vietor contradict the sworn testimony of White House officials? Must-read: Andy McCarthy on the AWOL President. More McCarthy: “Why I should not be the select committee’s special counsel.” Jonah Goldberg: “Benghazi made simple.”

UPDATE: Changed the headline to be a bit more accurate.

Footnote:
(1) Sharyl really needs to get an RSS feed going for her site.
(2) In fact, the very evening of the attack, she put out a press release blaming the video, after she had talked with President Obama, a conversation the contents of which we still do not know.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Operation Fast and Furious: it looks like I was wrong

December 8, 2011

Several bloggers and writers have speculated that advancing a left-wing gun-control agenda was the reason behind the mind-bogglingly idiotic operation to allow and encourage gun dealers in the American Southwest to sell firearms to “straw buyers” — people operating as agents for the Mexican drug cartels who would then smuggle the weapons back to their murderous bosses in Mexico. I’ve been resistant, thinking to myself that, whatever the reason behind the operation also known as “Gunwalker,” it couldn’t be something this asinine, this stupid.

My friends, I’m here to admit I may very well have been wrong. CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who’s been almost the sole MSM voice following this story, has the details:

Documents obtained by CBS News show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discussed using their covert operation “Fast and Furious” to argue for controversial new rules about gun sales.
PICTURES: ATF “Gunwalking” scandal timeline

In Fast and Furious, ATF secretly encouraged gun dealers to sell to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels to go after the “big fish.” But ATF whistleblowers told CBS News and Congress it was a dangerous practice called “gunwalking,” and it put thousands of weapons on the street. Many were used in violent crimes in Mexico. Two were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

ATF officials didn’t intend to publicly disclose their own role in letting Mexican cartels obtain the weapons, but emails show they discussed using the sales, including sales encouraged by ATF, to justify a new gun regulation called “Demand Letter 3”. That would require some U.S. gun shops to report the sale of multiple rifles or “long guns.” Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.

On July 14, 2010 after ATF headquarters in Washington D.C. received an update on Fast and Furious, ATF Field Ops Assistant Director Mark Chait emailed Bill Newell, ATF’s Phoenix Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious:

“Bill – can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.”

In other words, the ATF wanted to link gun violence in Mexico to firearms sold in the United States in order to justify a further regulatory burden on Americans’ rights under the 2nd Amendment. The only problem here is that the government created this “crisis” by pressing gun dealers into selling the weapons to suspected straw buyers… when it wasn’t selling them to the cartels directly.

Pretty slick, isn’t it? The government wants a new regulation that’s been resisted by gun dealers and 2nd Amendment advocates, so it feeds guns to the murderous cartels, inciting the violence and giving it a reason to say “Hey, there’s a real problem here” and argue for more restrictions on firearms. Circle closed, astroturf laid.

Meanwhile, legitimate gun dealers are made to look like idiots who’d sell any amount of weaponry to anyone with enough cash without batting  an eye. Far from it: some dealers did see a big looming problem and wanted to make sure they weren’t left to hang for it. Attkisson quotes an email from one to the ATF:

“I wanted to make sure that none of the firearms that were sold per our conversation with you and various ATF agents could or would ever end up south of the border or in the hands of the bad guys. I guess I am looking for a bit of reassurance that the guns are not getting south or in the wrong hands…I want to help ATF with its investigation but not at the risk of agents (sic) safety because I have some very close friends that are US Border Patrol agents in southern AZ as well as my concern for all the agents (sic) safety that protect our country.”

That was from spring, 2010. US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot dead the following December by cartel operatives using guns obtained through Operation Fast and Furious.

I don’t know whether “Demand Letter 3” was the reason for Operation Fast and Furious, or if the operation was already underway and someone saw an opportunity to advance the gun-control agenda, but it really doesn’t matter. In addition to Agent Terry, two other US agents were shot in Mexico, perhaps with “walked” guns. One, Jaime Zapata, died. Over two hundred Mexican soldiers, marines, federal agents, and civilians have died thanks to Operation Fast and Furious.

Someone, meaning several people, up to and including the Attorney General of the United States and even his boss, needs to be held to account for this fiasco.

And that includes jail time.

RELATED: AG Holder is scheduled to testify today before Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House committee. In the wake of this news, it should be interesting, to say the least. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who’s been spearheading the investigation in the upper chamber, has called for the resignation of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer for deceiving Congress. Breuer has admitted to knowing about Fast and Furious, but tried to pass the blame to an earlier Bush-era program. Earlier posts dealing with Operation Fast and Furious.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)