Former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has spoken extensively about apparent intrusions into her computer. She’s openly speculated that the hacking might have been connected to the government’s surveillance of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Earlier this year, she said there were “a number of investigations” into the tampering.
But until now, Attkisson has been cagey about identifying the responsibility. With a tell-all book due out next week, that’s about to change.
The New York Post nabbed an advanced copy of the memoir, “Stonewalled,” and reported Monday on perhaps the biggest revelation that Attkisson offers.
She wrote in the book, which details how the government surveilled her while she probed the Obama administration’s “scandals,” that a source “connected to government three-letter agencies” told her that the computer was hacked 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 discovery came after she had her computer inspected for spyware in 2013, the same year Attkisson went public with the hacking allegations. About a month after she made those claims, CBS News said that a cyber security firm had determined that Attkisson’s computer was “accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012.”
Attkisson resigned from CBS News earlier this year and she has criticized the network several times since for what she considers a pattern of liberal bias.
More from the Post:
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 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.”
Attkisson says her source — identified only as “Number One” — told her the spying was most likely not court-authorized because it went on far longer than most legal taps.
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 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 book’s disclosure ends Attkisson’s longstanding evasiveness when it comes to naming the culprit behind the intrusion, although she has strongly suggested that it was carried out by a government agency. Attkisson was asked by Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz in an interview earlier this year if the “NSA or some outside organization” was behind the hacking.
“I’m still at the point where I’m letting my lawyer only speak to this, and he’s not ready to speak to it yet,” she told Kurtz. “But I do think there will be more information about this before the end of the year.”
In a promotional video for her book released earlier this month, Attkisson described an intrusion into her computer that happened while she was working on a “Benghazi-related story,” recalling that “the data started wiping kind of at hyper-speed being deleted, as if my computer had been hijacked and I had no control over it.”
Attkisson said that the hacking was “purely an attempt to let me know that they could do that and that they were watching and that they were in my computer,” but she eschewed the opportunity to identify who “they” were.