• Sharyl Attkisson, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, Harper, 2014, 422 pages, $27.99.

RALEIGH — Many Americans understand that for the most part the old-line establishment media, especially the television networks, serve as faithful echo chambers for the Obama administration. Former CBS investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson brings more detail to that story in Stonewalled, a timely and courageous book that delivers a lot more than it promises.

Many readers may be surprised to learn that CBS News president David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, a top national security advisor to Obama and up to his eyeballs in the Benghazi scandal. As the author notes, CBS hasn’t exactly been up front about that connection. Likewise, Joel Molinoff came to CBS after serving the Obama White House as director of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and before that Molinoff worked for the National Security Agency. CBS also hired Mike Morell, formerly a deputy director at the CIA and a major figure in the Benghazi scandal. So CBS stories on that theme and others such as Obamacare, as the author explains, might as well have been written by the White House.

That was not true of Attkisson’s stories.

In Stonewalled she outlines her work on “Fast and Furious,” a government operation intended to back the administration’s belief that American guns cause violence in Mexico. The administration did this by forcing U.S. gun dealers to sell weapons to dangerous criminals, known as letting the guns “walk.” The existence of the program was denied by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives bosses, who used taxpayer-paid public relations flacks to attack Attkisson personally rather than refute her reporting.

In the author’s experience, many establishment journalists believe the motives of government are always good, and with Obamacare they tended to accept information from the government at face value. Attkisson is not one of those journalists. She documents how the Obama administration’s healthcare.gov website was riddled with “giant security holes.” The establishment media passed that off as a mere “glitch,” and as with anything they don’t like, criticism was dismissed as a “Republican story,” “right-wing,” “conservative,” and so forth.

Attkisson has been around too long to accept the idea that the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed four American lives, including that of ambassador Christopher Stephens, was prompted by an Internet video. That was the line repeated by the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and designated mouthpiece Susan Rice. As the author notes, Rice and her boss, Thomas Pickering, were in the State Department in 1998 when Islamic terrorists bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, resulting in massive loss of life. Hillary Clinton was then first lady and also well aware of the dangers terrorists posed to U.S. diplomats in Africa. Trouble is, in 2012 that knowledge violated the narrative that the Obama administration had terrorists on the run. So they left American diplomats unprotected, failed to send help, and deployed the video cover story.

Attkisson packs four pages with administration claims and countervailing facts. She also deconstructs Hillary’s account in her memoir Hard Choices, and recalls that the secretary of state told a relative of one victim that “we’ll find who made that awful video.” Writes Attkisson: “why not say we’ll find whoever killed your loved one?” But as the author learned, being unkind to Obama’s designated successor, and less than worshipful of the president, has its own special reward.

Attkisson describes working at her computer when something took over and began wiping out material. She had the presence of mind to grab her phone and shoot a video. She learned that her computer had been infiltrated using spyware proprietary to government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and NSA, which now are conducting surveillance against all Americans. She also found the intruders planted classified information on her computer. That added “the possible threat of criminal prosecution” to the author’s list of delay, denial, obstruction, intimidation, retaliation, bullying, and surveillance from the supposedly transparent Obama administration. The back story here is quite remarkable.

The Obama administration has transformed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies into a force reminiscent of East Germany’s Stasi security agency, deployed on the domestic scene. CBS has become one of their false-flag operations, but Attkisson failed to play along. She notes that U.S. snoops had information on the Tsarnaev brothers but did nothing to stop their deadly Boston Marathon bombing mission. She might also have cited Fort Hood mass murderer Nidal Hasan. Government snoops also had Hasan’s emails to terrorist bosses but made no move against him. The administration believed a persistent journalist such as Sharyl Attkisson required government action, aided by a massive taxpayer-funded attack machine with powerful assets in the media. The author provides a roster of the players.

In the early going, Attkisson quotes leftist icon Noam Chomsky, who said, “the U.S. media do not function in the manner of the propaganda system of a totalitarian state.” But Stonewalled makes it clear that, at present, they do, echoing government propaganda and attacking those who challenge government power with facts. In these conditions, one can well imagine what action might be taken against some insider filling in the blanks on everything we still don’t know about President Barack Obama.

Stonewalled is not that book, but this important work does confirm that the federal government of the United States is now acting in a totalitarian manner. That is of major concern, and not just for journalists. We’re all Sharyl Attkissons now.

Lloyd Billingsley is a contributor to Carolina Journal.