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Report disputes claims that US hacked reporter’s computer

January 30, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Justice Department inspector general report is disputing allegations by a former CBS News correspondent that the federal government secretly monitored her home computer.

Sharyl Attkisson, who has said her home computer and work laptops were remotely accessed due to her reporting on topics including the Fast and Furious scandal and the terror attacks in Benghazi, repeated those allegations Thursday in testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general.

She alleged that the intrusions, which she said were supported by forensic exams, included keystroke monitoring, password capture and the exfiltration of data, and said she believes the government was likely responsible. In an interview Thursday evening, she stood by her allegations, saying a technician’s analysis provided “crystal clear” proof of remote access.

“Rest assured, we have our own forensics,” she said.

But a report from the inspector general’s office obtained Thursday by The Associated Press said investigators found no evidence of remote or unauthorized access on her personal Apple iMac. Attkisson has also alleged that two CBS laptops were compromised, though CBS declined to make the computers available for examination.

“The OIG’s investigation was not able to substantiate the allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusion by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise,” according to a four-page synopsis of the report that was dated last week.

The report said Attkisson did provide the inspector general’s office with recorded videos showing the screen of her CBS-issued laptop. One video showed a standard error prompt, the report said. A second video that showed a document she was creating on a laptop being deleted without her apparent involvement actually “appeared to be caused by the backspace key being struck, rather than a remote intrusion,” according to the report.

The report also said Attkisson pointed out a “suspicious” cable attached to her internet service provider’s connection box, but said it was determined to be a “common cable” used by her ISP that could not be used to monitor or affect the service.

Attkisson referred to the report as an “ancillary” document, whose findings were incomplete because the investigators had been denied access to her CBS laptops. She said she had been provided with a copy of the report in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

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