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Former CBS investigative journalist suing DHHS

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Sharyl Attkisson, an Emmy award winning investigative journalist, author, and a former correspondent for CBS News is suing the Department of Health and Human Services for her Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests delays and obstructions, regarding HealthCare.gov (Obamacare) that went into effect in October 2013, the Patriot Action Network reported on Friday.

Attkisson said on her website that with every administration, journalists run into roadblocks but with the Obama administration, getting information has been the worst she has ever seen and the administration has set a new standard of secrecy and obstruction and now seeks to sue to get the information.

Attkisson originally filed for information and documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in October 2013 and then again on June 7, 2014 to no avail.

Attkisson said, “I’ve been seeking much of this undeniably public information 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 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, “said Attkisson. “They languish for months and years until the story for which documents are sought is long over. Even if one files a lawsuit to force the government to follow the law, the court cases can be time-consuming and so the government’s stall tactics are still effective. That’s one reason why journalists often don’t bother to sue.”

Attkisson updated her website stating that she has now teamed up with Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has had much success in suing the federal government for improperly denying FOI requests.

In teaming up with Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “We are proud to represent Sharyl Attkisson, an independent journalist, who has a demonstrated track-record of refusing to play the Washington media game that ignores or suppresses public corruption stories such as Benghazi and Fast Furious. As Sharyl Attkisson’s new FOIA lawsuit takes on Obamacare, she highlights how the Obama administration is in yet a new cover-up about how it seriously misled the American people about Healthcare.gov’s failures.”

“For years, I’ve watched Judicial Watch’s dogged tenacity produce success in using FOIA lawsuits to obtain documents from a secretive government, whether under President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama, that often had utter contempt for me on other investigative journalists,” added Ms. Attkisson. “Journalists and Americans interested in the truth about Washington under any administration can look to Judicial Watch and its work.”

“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.”

In May 2014, Judicial Watch released a 106-page document obtained from HHS that revealed that on its first full day of operation, Obamacare’s Healthcare.gov received only one enrollment. The document, obtained in response to a November 25, 2013, FOIA lawsuit against HHS, also revealed that on the second day of Healthcare.gov operation, 48% of registrations failed.

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