Judicial Watch Joins Sharyl Attkisson in Lawsuit against Justice Department to Obtain FBI Records about Attkisson
Earlier FOIA records obtained by Judicial Watch show award-winning journalist was targeted by Obama White House and Justice Department over critical reporting
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on November 19, 2014, it joined investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson to file a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking “any and all records” relating to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks and other records on the award-winning correspondent. The request includes correspondence between Attkisson and FBI agents. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Sharyl Attkisson and Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No:1:14-cv-01944)).
According to documents obtained last month by Judicial Watch in a separate lawsuit, the DOJ and the White House targeted the former CBS correspondent as a result of her investigations into the growing Operation Fast and Furious scandal. In an October 4, 2011, email to White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, Attorney General Eric Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, described Attkisson as “out of control.” Schmaler added ominously, “I’m also calling Sharryl’s [sic] editor and reaching out to Scheiffer” (an apparent reference to CBS’ Chief Washington Correspondent and Face the Nation moderator Bob Scheiffer). Schultz responded, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”
The Judicial Watch/Attkisson lawsuit asks, in part, for:
“Any and all records concerned, regarding or relating to Sharyl Attkisson. Such records include, but are not limited to, records of background checks of Sharyl Attkisson, records of communications, contacts, or correspondence between Sharyl Attkisson and employees, officials or agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and records of investigations concerning or regarding Sharyl Attkisson as a victim…”
Operation Fast and Furious was a Justice Department/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which the Obama administration allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels.
Attkisson, who in 2012 won both the Emmy and the Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative reporting, first began reporting on Fast and Furious in February 2011 when she broke the story, “Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF.” Since then, she has filed more than 100 stories relating to the gunrunning debacle, many of which were exclusive reports. In her new book “Stonewalled” Attkisson reported that she had received inside information that government-related sources had hacked into both her personal and work computers over a lengthy period of time.
“We are proud to represent Sharyl Attkisson, an independent journalist, who has a demonstrated track-record of refusing to play the Washington media insiders game that covers up or covers over public corruption stories such as Fast Furious,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We know from the emails we have already obtained that the Obama White House and the Justice Department sought to silence this courageous reporter. Now, we need to find out just how far they went.”
“I am pleased to once again partner with Judicial Watch, which is unmatched in terms of success in litigating Freedom of Information claims against the federal government, whether under Bush or Obama,” added Sharyl Attkisson. “That I’ve had to sue to get my own FBI file is concerning. This administration has a terrible record in respecting the First Amendment rights of journalists.”
The FBI FOIA lawsuit is not the first collaborative effort between Judicial Watch and Attkisson. In August 2014, Judicial Watch teamed with Attkisson file a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain records pertaining to the failed roll-out of President Obama’s health care law.