Archive for the ‘US Attorney General’ category

Off Topic ? | Attkisson v. Eric Holder, Department of Justice, et al

April 3, 2017

Attkisson v. Eric Holder, Department of Justice, et al, sharylattkisson.com, April 2, 2017

(Spying on Ms. Attkisson, an investigative journalist, by the Obama administration. This seems relevant to more recent efforts to spy on Trump, et al. — DM)

As an investigative reporter for CBS News, Ms. Attkisson was responsible for investigating and reporting on national news stories. Between 2011 and 2013, she investigated and prepared various high-profile news reports, including ones related to the “Fast and Furious” “gunwalking” operation and the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

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Many of you have asked for the status of my computer intrusion lawsuit against the federal government.

On March 19, 2017, a federal judge denied the government’s motion to dismiss my computer intrusion lawsuit, and transferred the case from Washington D.C. to the Eastern District of Virginia.

Below are excerpts from the judge’s opinion, which provides a good summary.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

MEMORANDUM OPINION, by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan

As an investigative reporter for CBS News, Ms. Attkisson was responsible for investigating and reporting on national news stories. Between 2011 and 2013, she investigated and prepared various high-profile news reports, including ones related to the “Fast and Furious” “gunwalking” operation and the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya…

In 2011——at the same time that Ms. Attkisson was conducting investigations and issuing certain of her high-profile news reports——the Attkissons “began to notice anomalies in numerous electronic devices at their home in Virginia.” These anomalies included Ms. Attkisson’s work-issued laptop computer and a family desktop computer “turning on and off at night without input from anyone in the household,” “the house alarm chirping daily at different times,” and “television problems, including interference.” All of these electronic devices used “the Verizon FiOS line installed in [the Attkissons’] home,” but Verizon was unable to stanch the anomalous activity despite multiple attempts. In January 2012, the Attkissons’ residential internet service “began constantly dropping off.”

In February 2012, “sophisticated surveillance spyware” was installed on Ms. Attkisson’s work-issued laptop computer. A later forensic computer analysis revealed that Ms. Attkisson’s laptop and the family’s desktop computer had been the “targets of unauthorized surveillance efforts.” That same forensic analysis revealed that Ms. Attkisson’s mobile phone was also targeted for surveillance when it was connected to the family’s desktop computer. The infiltration of that computer and the extraction of information from it was “executed via an IP address owned, controlled, and operated by the United States Postal service.” Additionally, based on the sophisticated nature of the software used to carry out the infiltration and software fingerprints indicating the use of the federal government’s proprietary software, the infiltration and surveillance appeared to be perpetrated by persons in the federal government.

An independent forensic computer analyst hired by CBS subsequently reported finding evidence on both Ms. Attkisson’s work-issued laptop computer and her family’s desktop computer of “a coordinated, highly-skilled series of actions and attacks directed at the operation of the computers.” Computer forensic analysis also indicated that remote actions were taken in December 2012 to remove the evidence of the electronic infiltration and surveillance from Ms. Attkisson’s computers and other home electronic equipment.

As Ms. Attkisson’s investigations and reporting continued, in October 2012 the Attkissons noticed “an escalation of electronic problems at their personal residence, including interference in home and mobile phone lines, computer interference, and television interference.” In November of that year, Ms. Attkisson’s mobile phones “experienced regular interruptions and interference, making telephone communications unreliable, and, at times, virtually impossible.”

Additionally, in December 2012, a person with government intelligence experience conducted an inspection of the exterior of the Attkissons’ Virginia home. That investigator discovered an extra Verizon FiOS fiber optics line. Soon thereafter, after a Verizon technician was instructed by Ms. Attkisson to leave the extra cable at the home, the cable disappeared, and the Attkissons were unable to determine what happened to it. In March 2013, the Attkissons’ desktop computer malfunctioned, and in September of that year, while Ms. Attkisson was working on a story at her home, she observed that her personal laptop computer was remotely accessed and controlled, resulting in data being deleted from it. On April 3, 2013, Ms. Attkisson filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. The Inspector General’s investigation was limited to an analysis of the compromised desktop computer, and the partially-released report that emerged from that investigation reported “no evidence of intrusion,” although it did note “a great deal of advanced mode computer activity not attributable to Ms. Attkisson or anybody in her household.”

The Attkissons allege that the “cyber-attacks” they “suffered in [their] home” were perpetrated by “personnel working on behalf of the United States.” Accordingly, they have asserted various claims against the United States and against former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, and unknown agents of the Department of Justice, the United States Postal Service, and the United States, all in their individual capacities. Those claims include claims against the United States under the FTCA and claims against the individual federal officers for violations of constitutional rights under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)…

Having determined that venue is improper as to the Attkissons’ FTCA claims and that the pendent venue doctrine is inapplicable, the Court may either “dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer [this] case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.” “The decision whether a transfer or a dismissal is in the interest of justice . . . rests within the sound discretion of the district court,” Naartex Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 722 F.2d 779, 789 (D.C. Cir. 1983), but the “standard remedy for improper venue is to transfer the case to the proper court rather than dismissing it——thus preserving a [plaintiff’s] ability to obtain review.” Nat’l Wildlife Fed’n v. Browner, 237 F.3d 670, 674 (D.C. Cir. 2001). The Court will use that standard remedy here and find that

the interest of justice warrants transfer rather than dismissal so that the Attkissons’ claims can be adjudicated on the merits.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, defendants’ amended motion to dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART WITHOUT PREJUDICE. As to their assertion that the Attkissons’ FTCA claims are improperly venued, defendants’ motion is granted. Accordingly, this consolidated case shall be transferred in its entirety to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The remainder of defendants’ amended motion to dismiss is denied without prejudice so that defendants may refile it, if appropriate, upon transfer to the Eastern District of Virginia. Likewise, the Attkissons’ motion for reconsideration of the Order denying various motions related to third-party discovery is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE so that it may be refiled in and more appropriately resolved by the transferee court. An appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.

SO ORDERED.

Signed: Emmet G. Sullivan
United States District Judge
March 19, 2017

U.S. Attorney General Scrubs Orlando 911 Transcripts

June 20, 2016

U.S. Attorney General Scrubs Orlando 911 Transcripts, Clarion Project, Meira Svirsky, June 20, 2016

Orlando-Attack-HP_3

In an interview with NBC, we learned from the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that only a partial transcript of the 911 calls made by the Orlando shooter will be released by the FBI to the public.

Reminiscent of other administration scrubbings, what will be omitted from the transcripts will be references to the motive of the shooter – namely, his pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State as well as his Islamist grievances about American foreign policy vis-à-vis Muslim countries.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch said. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].”

Yet earlier when announcing the release of the transcripts, Lynch told CNN, “It’s been our goal to get as much information into the public domain as possible, so people can understand, as we do, possibly what motivated this killer, what led him to this place, and also provide us with information.”

When pressed by CNN what those transcripts will tell us about his motivation, Lynch calmly answers, “He talked about his pledges of allegiance to a terrorist group. He talked about his motivations for why he was claiming at that time he was committing this horrific act. He talked about American policy…”

Yet, those passages will be the very ones that will be redacted, as Lynch explained in an Orwellian fashion on CNN, “The reason why we’re going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those who went through this horror.”

To the contrary.

The immediate victims of this attack as well as the larger American public deserve to know and be able to discuss the motivations of this attack.

It is hard to imagine how speaking openly about the motive – so that steps can be made to prevent such an attack from happening again – can “re-victimize” the victims. Loved ones have been lost. Nothing will bring them back. Others have been injured – most likely maimed for life both physically and psychologically.

Nothing will make that horror go away.

What will help both the victims and the public at large is trying knowing that proper steps have been taken to prevent such a horror from happening again, and that justice will ultimately prevail.

As pointed out by Daniel Greenfield in an article titled, “Islamophobia Kills,” a culture has been created by the Obama administration along with organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that has made Americans afraid to call out potential killers for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim racists — Islamophobes.

In the case of the Orlando shooter, when Mateen was reported by a fellow employee for his homophobic and racist comments while working for at G4S Security, the company refused to take action because Mateen was Muslim and did not want to be accused of being Islamophobic.  The employee, Daniel Gilroy, a former police officer who described Mateen as “unhinged and untable,” ended up quitting his own job to avoid Mateen after Mateen began stalking him.

Gilroy said the attack by Maten did not come as a surprise to him.

Later, when he was being investigated by the FBI, Mateen claimed he was reacting to Islamophobic comments by his co-workers. The FBI later concluded that Mateen’s professed Al Qaeda ties and terrorist threats were reactions to “being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.”

We saw a similar refusal to report suspicious activity with the San Bernadino killers. Neighbors noticed suspicious activity but didn’t report it for fear of being labeled anti-Muslim racists — Islamophobes.

The Fort Hood killer, Nidal Hasan, was also on the FBI’s radar. As Greenfield notes, “Nidal Hasan handed out business cards announcing that he was a Jihadist. He delivered a presentation justifying suicide bombings, but no action was taken. Like Omar [Mateen], the FBI was aware of Hasan. It knew that he was talking to Al Qaeda bigwig Anwar Al-Awlaki, yet nothing was done. Instead of worrying about his future victims, the FBI was concerned that investigating him and interviewing him would ‘harm Hasan’s career’.”

Greenfield adds, “One of his classmates later said that the military authorities ‘don’t want to say anything because it would be considered questioning somebody’s religious belief, or they’re afraid of an equal opportunity lawsuit.’”

An interesting poll taken in the wake of the Orlando attack shows just how far this “see something, say nothing” mentality has taken hold in America. When asked if the Orlando incident was more a function of Islamic terrorism or gun violence, 60 percent of Democratic voters answered gun violence, while only 20 percent said Islamic terrorism. (Of Republican voters, 79 percent answered Islamic terrorism.)

While it is true that a man with Mateen’s history should never have been able to have bought a gun (and this in itself is a travesty of the intent of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), the gun he used was the physical facilitator of his Islamist ideology.

“Re-victimization,” in the words of U.S. Attorney General Lynch, will apply to all of us if the Islamist ideology and motivations of these killers are not openly addressed, taken seriously and made as the basis of a plan of action to counteract them.

In addition to creating an open season for Islamist attacks, ultimately the strategy of the administration will backfire. As noted by former Islamist radical Maajid Nawaz, If we refuse to isolate, name and shame Islamist extremism, from fear of increasing anti-Muslim bigotry, we only increase anti-Muslim bigotry.