In an accusative article in yesterday’s New York Post former CBS News reporter, Sharyl Atkinson, directed blame at the Obama administration and its spy apparatus over electronic eavesdropping. Atkinson claims she was fired from the network for reporting in a way that put the president in a bad light. She also intimated that the computer of one of her sources was hacked and sullied with incriminating data that could later be used to prosecute her.
This is just the latest bombshell to land amidst an administration already mired in tech controversy and other dilemmas. This is not what the public bargained for when it elected Obama on the promise of bringing transparency to the government. Instead, at least in the eyes of Sharyl Atkinson, the administration policies harken back to a grimmer political era. Of the alleged abuse of power Atkinson’s source said,
‘This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn’t have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America.’
The source, whose computer was allegedly hacked by the government, is connected to a government spy agency. The hack was purportedly done by a,
‘Sophisticated entity that used commercial, non-attributable spyware that is 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 email’ that Atkinson received in February 2012, then twice redone and refreshed through a satellite hook-up 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 a recently published book: “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”
Because of the hacking’s long duration, she determined that it most likely wasn’t court-ordered. The spyware included programs that Atkinson said monitored her every keystroke and gave spies access to all her emails and even passwords to her financial accounts. But she was most stunned to discover that three supposedly very secure documents buried deep in her operating system which would be impossible to find unless she was a nerd trained to look for them.
Atkinson blames government interference in her reporting over the details of her reportage of the events surrounding the deadly attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The Obama administration, spearheaded by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, tried to dismiss the attack as a spontaneous result of some lone wolves when, in fact, it was a well-planned attack. Obama hoped to deflect attention from it less it derail his presidential campaign. Atkinson also drew CBS’s and the government’s ire when she reported on the Federal ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running debacle.
It will be interesting to learn if these revelations have any impact on the upcoming congressional elections which already see the Democrats on the ropes. Obama is hoping that the election will be a referendum on his policies and his government. He should be careful of what he wishes for.