Sharyl Attkisson Files FOIA Lawsuit Seeking ObamaCare Website Documents

Former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, with the assistance of the conservative organization Judicial Watch, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Servies on Friday, seeking records related to the ObamaCare website, HealthCare.gov. Attkisson announced the lawsuit on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon: "I'm suing the federal govt for http://healthcare.gov docs but not optimistic since they now say some are lost... "

Before she parted ways with CBS, the journalist filed two reports in late 2013 about the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov. On the November 4, 2013 edition of CBS Evening News, Attkisson spotlighted how the Obama administration launched the website without proper security protocols:

SHARYL ATTKISSON: As Healthcare.gov was being developed, crucial tests to ensure the security and privacy of customer information fell behind schedule. Our analysis found that the deadline for final security plans slipped three times from May 6 to July 16. Security assessments to be finished June 7 slid to August 16 then the 23rd. The final required top-to-bottom security tests never got done.

The House Oversight Committee released an Obama administration memo that shows four days before the launch the government took an unusual step: it granted itself a waiver to launch the website with a level of uncertainty deemed as a high security risk....

A week later, the correspondent pointed out that the federal government knew about HealthCare.gov's multiple security defects, but pushed forward with its launch. She cited a government that underlined "important security risks discovered in the insurance system....'The threat and risk potential to the system is limitless.'

On Tuesday, Attkisson posted an article on her personal website that explained her lawsuit:


Squeezing public documents from federal officials hasn't been easy for me under any administration. But...I've found out the hard way that the Obama administration has taken obstruction and secrecy to new heights.

Take HealthCare.gov.

From the moment Health and Human Services falsely denied it was tracking enrollment numbers in the early disastrous days of HealthCare.gov, to HHS keeping secret the details of the security risks it discovered prior to–and after–the website's launch, to HHS excluding journalists from viewing–but inviting favored private interests to view–the repair operations in progress, I've been seeking much of this undeniably public information.

I began filing simple Freedom of Information requests regarding HealthCare.gov in October of 2013. Under the law, with few exceptions, such requests are to be filled within just a few weeks. In my experience, they never are. They languish for months and years until the story for which documents are sought is long over....

One entity that has had a great deal of success in suing the federal government for improperly denying FOI requests is the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch....With the help of Judicial Watch's experts, I have filed suit against HHS for the HealthCare.gov documents that belong to the public. The day I filed suit, HHS informed Congress that it had apparently deleted some HealthCare.gov documents Congress and I are seeking. If federal officials have irrevocably destroyed key emails, even a court cannot order them materialized out of thin air. But perhaps a court can help get to the bottom of what occurred.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center