Sharyl Attkisson Lawsuit Against Rod Rosenstein Claiming She Was Hacked By Government Tossed

from the crazypants dept

Remember Sharyl Attkisson? If not, she is a former CNN and CBS journalist who made something of a name for herself both in reporting on the Obama administration, often critically, as well as for accusing that same administration of hacking into her computer and home network. Whatever you think of her reporting, her lawsuit against Eric Holder and the Justice Department over the hacking claims was crazy-pants. Essentially, she took a bunch of the same technological glitches all of us deal with on a daily basis — flickering television screens, a stuck backspace key on her computer — and wove that into a giant conspiracy against her and her reporting. She made a big deal in the suit, and her subsequent book on the matter, over some “computer experts” she relied on to confirm that she was a victim of government hacking, except those experts remained largely anonymous and were even, in some cases, third party people she’d never met. For that and other reasons related to how quickly she managed to do initial discovery, the case was tossed by the courts in 2019.

That didn’t stop Attkisson’s crusade against the government, however. In 2020, she filed suit against Rod Rosenstein, again accusing the government of spying on her and her family. To back this up, she again relied on an anonymous source, but that source has since been revealed. And, well…

The source was initially anonymous but later identified by Attkisson’s attorneys as Ryan White, an alleged former FBI informant. White is a QAnon conspiracy adherent who appears to have been the source of bizarre child-abuse allegations that Georgia attorney Lin Wood leveled at Chief Justice John Roberts last year, according to a report in the Daily Beast.

And so here we are yet again, with an extremely serious claim lodged against the federal government that relies on the tinfoil hat crowd as “evidence.” In addition, Attkisson lays out again the computer and network hacking claims, with a named “computer forensic” expert who apparently told her that there was spyware on her machine, that they had logs for where these breaches originated (such as a Ritz Carlton hotel), and that the tools used for all of this appeared to be the sort typically only available to government actors. And here too, just as in her original lawsuit, there are tons of details and claims that reveal that, like so many other conspiracy theories, there is a duality problem. Namely, that the federal government is so nefarious and great at hacking that they completely compromised nearly every machine Attkisson used at work and at home, but that same federal government was too stupid to mask the IP address from which it launched these attacks.

For example, her suit claims that these attacks were originally launched from the United States Postal Service in Baltimore, where some staff involved in infiltrating The Silk Road worked. The contention of her Qanon witness is that the spying on Attkisson somehow happened as an offshoot of a multi-agency task force against dark web dealings. And to believe all of that, you again have to believe that the government’s l337 h4x0rs didn’t bother to cover their USPS tracks.

But those are conversations about the merits of Attkisson’s case. We don’t really need to get that far, because her suit has again been tossed on essentially procedural grounds.

Bennett, an appointee of President George W. Bush, also ruled that there was inadequate indication that any surveillance of Attkisson involved activities in Maryland, which Bennett’s court has jurisdiction over.

“The Amended Complaint is devoid of any factual allegations with respect to actual conduct related to the alleged surveillance which occurred in Maryland,” Bennett wrote in his 20-page decision, issued on Tuesday. “The conclusory statements that the alleged surveillance was performed by individuals in Maryland, unsupported by any factual allegations, lie in contrast to the Plaintiffs’ numerous assertions regarding conduct performed and events which occurred in the Eastern District of Virginia.”

So, on the one hand, it’s not as if the court is saying that Attkisson’s claims are nonsense. And maybe this will lead to her refiling her lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction. On the other hand, it doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in the merits of her claims or her legal team that they can’t even get the case filed in the correct jurisdiction.

So, do I think this is the last we’ll hear from Sharyl Attkisson’s lawsuits over the supposed hacking of all her things? No, I doubt it. After all, she must certainly have another book to write and promote soon.

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Comments on “Sharyl Attkisson Lawsuit Against Rod Rosenstein Claiming She Was Hacked By Government Tossed”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Shallow Excuse

Of course people make mistakes occasionally. But, there’s a world of difference between "yikes, I may have left a crumb of evidence that someone might find" and "meh, we couldn’t be bothered to use VPNs or proxies while committing our illegal hacks". The second is what was being alleged, and that’s hard to believe.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Something something cults cut you off from the real world, telling you everyone is out to get you and the only one you can trust is dear leader.
Its slow at first, but as the ‘signs’ align you slip deeper and deeper into the mire.
Mentally insert a meme here:
You aren’t important enough to chip, change my mind dot gif

If you talk to the crazy, you hear a tale of woe about how all of these bad things happened, but its not their fault it is the fault of the secret cabal who hates them b/c white/nationalist/evangelical/etc…
That Judge took away their children, not because they ended up in the hospital with measles after you took them to a "measles party", but because those evil people who passed laws to make sure we were all injected with a long list of horrible things want control of my baby so they can eat them!!!!
The only reason I showed up drunk for court was to stop the mind control rays from working & it wasn’t real court anyways because there was no fringe on the flag my buddy Skippy told me the real law!
(Shhh Mike I can hear you rolling your eyes at me from here)

They use Happy Holidays to erase Baby Jeebus from Christmas!!!
Because in their little bubble everyone loves Baby Jeebus, Christmas is actually his birthday (not a stolen pagan festival), and everyone celebrates it even those mind controlling space laser controlling candle lighting Jews who control everything & use that power to keep me down.

The cult leaders enjoy keeping their followers focused on these things & supporting them even as the leaders sell them out over and over again, but manage to blow the whistle and redirect the anger away from where it actually belongs.

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me, but pretty sure there isn’t a satellite tasked with following just me & agents dispatched to cause me misfortune at every turn.

Another non political Anon. says:

North Korean hackers sometimes operate behind vpns and sometimes their ips get exposed.
In such sense it´s not odd that an "USA hack" would let one of their ips exposed.
To find ips is not that easy anyway.
They are just a bunch of numbers and you need to find them, understand them etc.
It´s not as easy as "this ip contacted my computer, I am hacked"
They are only numbers they can be faked, you ca not understand them etc
So in such sense this claims that "expert hackers would not let the victim find their ip" is not really a valid claim

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restless94110 (profile) says:


So let me get this clear: you just wrote an article pretending you looked at some evidence (as if you were a jury) and pronounced judgment on a case that was dismissed purely on procedural grounds (i.e, the court didn’t hear any of the evidence)?

Why didn’t you just write one paragraph? Or better yet, one sentence: Case of alleged hacking by corrupt official Rob Rosenstein dismissed for being brought in wrong jurisdiction, stand by for the refiling.

Why expound dump trucks of hot air claiming you know all about something you obviously know nothing about? And it doesn’t matter what you think you know about this case at all. It’s just weird. Can’t you stick to Copyright, Patent and telco overreach? What provokes you to go off the deep end with this emotional and hysterical speculation?

And I thought tech guys were rational.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


Why expound dump trucks of hot air claiming you know all about something you obviously know nothing about?

Pot, kettle, black.

But for a real answer: We have every right to judge her claims on their merits, and the merits of her claims are so thin as to be practically non-existent.

And it doesn’t matter what you think you know about this case at all.

Then why do you care so much about what Techdirt writers think about it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Ryan White, an alleged former FBI informant

How can an FBI informant not be an absolutely reliable source for the allegation, no matter how absurd or improbable? I thought FBI informants were always trustworthy and should always be taken at their word, even when they have a long history of lying and being wrong.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
jobardu says:

Sharyl Attkisson Lawsuit "crazy pants"

You noted that her "was crazy-pants." Maybe you are right; I haven’t studied the issue. But that comment caused me to stop reading the article.

What I have noticed is that techdirt tends to be leftist in its political outlook. In your discussion of section 230, you referred to people who supported Trump’s position as "Trumpists". That is telling and damaging. All of Trump’s comments are degraded in the media, including tech media, as lacking in substance or sanity. Yet many times, it turns out, after evidence becomes public, that he was right.

The 2016 Presidential election is one example. All mainstream sources deride the evidence of anti-Trump interference. Yet studying the evidence and comparing it to the evidence of Russian interference in 2016, one is overwhelming led to the conclusion that Trump was right and that the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Democrats committed crimes that undermined the pillars supporting the credibility of the Government.

The Harvard Shorenstein Center on Media Politics did a statistical analysis of stories for and against Trump in all media and found that close to 95% of them were anti-Trump. That study was, of course, soon canceled. It shows that there is no new information content in mainstream news since it is so predictable.

For that reason, I hope techdirt doesn’t allow itself to fall into the close-minded echoing and amplifying of the mainstream narratives. I like the articles’ depth and insights, and I am looking forward to actually learning something from them. If I want more complex affirmations of political correctness, I have an almost infinite number of sources being thrust at me every day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sharyl Attkisson Lawsuit "crazy pants"

"I hope techdirt doesn’t allow itself to fall into the close-minded echoing and amplifying of the mainstream narratives"

To late for that they went all "crazy pants" and "conspiracy theory" years back. Donald Trump is living rent free in their heads after he began calling out the echo chamber they live in.

h cee says:

“ Under current law, before public figures can recover on a defamation claim, they must prove that a defamatory comment was made with knowledge that it was false, or with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity (the malice standard).”

You really need to consider a retraction and an apology to Ms. Attkisson. There are so many provably false statements in your article that she will have a clear libel case against you.

Stick to Tech News and stay out of politics and you’ll find your readership doubling. Keep going down this road and you’ll see your readership continue to plummet. And you’d better hope beyond hope that Section 230 remains intact judging by some of the comments here. Just don’t expect it to cover you in libel that comes from you.

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R. E. Buttal says:

Answering defamatory speech with more speech.

What hateful little fiends even publish such an attack on tiny little blog where only fanboys — and a few hooters who don’t believe a word you write — will see it? Sheesh. Born rich yet full of HATE and ENVY. Grow up, Maz, if ya can.

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R. E. Buttal says:

Re: Answering defamatory speech with more speech.

Outside this tiny little blog which Maz pays for (out of pocket: ads don’t!) and controls — in hidden ways such as locking down what appears to be a plain HTML input form — and the LIE that it’s "the community" censoring, when Maz provides the code to do it, and there’s doubtless an Admin which actually approves the censoring, no automatic system could — and Maz won’t state how many clicks out of how many readers that takes, complete black box — anyway, outside of here and a couple GOOGLE / Silicon Valley fellow travelers, Maz is roundly reviled.

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