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.