Watchdog: Attkisson wasn’t hacked, had 'delete' key stuck

A former CBS investigative reporter was not hacked by the Justice Department for writing critical stories about the Obama administration, according to an investigation by an independent watchdog.

An inspector general report concluded that Sharyl Attkisson's merely had her “delete” key stuck when text disappeared from her computer, and said there's no evidence that government officials erased stories.

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In her book Stonewalled, Attkisson claims that the Justice Department broke into her computer to steal information about her reporting on the botched “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation as well as the 2013 terrorist attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

To back up her claim, Attkisson has posted a video seeming to show text she was working on being deleted remotely, presumably by a malicious hacker.

A summary of the Justice Department’s inspector general report obtained by The Hill and other outlets disputes her claims, at least with regard to her personal laptop. CBS declined to hand over to the watchdog two additional computers that it and Attkisson said had also been hacked.

The elimination of text in the video she posted “appeared to be caused by the backspace key being stuck, rather than a remote intrusion,” the DOJ report said.

When conducting searches of computer, the department “did not find evidence of remote or unauthorized access,” it said, nor did it find evidence that any suspicious Internet protocol (IP) addresses had gained access to her compiuter, as a previous technician employed by Attkisson had said.

Attkisson had previously raised alarms about a “suspicious” cable attached to the Internet service provider’s box on her house.

That, too, was nothing to fear, the investigation found. It was just “a common cable used by the provider,” it found, and “could not be used to monitor or otherwise affect the phone or Internet service at her residence.”

While attempting to do an analysis of her computer, researchers found that a technician hired by CBS to investigate the reported hack had used “not forensically sound” methods to search her computer, “which altered file information.”

Details of the report emerged on Thursday after Attkisson had testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s nominee to be the next attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

During her testimony, Attkisson criticized the administration for treating journalists and their sources like “enemies of the state,” she said. 

Attkisson has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration seeking $35 million

This story was updated on Jan. 30 at 1:20 p.m.