Last Saturday, The FBI raided the home of James O'Keefe and two other journalists who work for the Guerilla Journalist organization Project Veritas. Shortly thereafter, the New York Times called O'Keefe for a comment, establishing a direct link to the fact that the FBI tipped off the NYT about the raid.
Shortly thereafter, the NYT began to print privileged communications about how Project Veritas conducts its operations. From the New York Times:
Project Veritas has long occupied a gray area between investigative journalism and political spying, and internal documents obtained by The New York Times reveal the extent to which the group has worked with its lawyers to gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.
The documents, a series of memos written by the group’s lawyer, detail ways for Project Veritas sting operations — which typically diverge from standard journalistic practice by employing people who mask their real identities or create fake ones to infiltrate target organizations — to avoid breaking federal statutes such as the law against lying to government officials.
The reason behind the search warrant. The diary of Joe Biden's daughter Ashley Biden. Ashley claimed the diary had been stolen, However, O'Keefe insist their source found the diary abandoned in a room.
Project Veritas did not publish the contents of the diary, because according to O'Keefe they could not verify the diary belonged to Biden, and then promptly turned the diary to law enforcement so that they may return the diary to its rightful owner.
Why would the FBI search for the contents of a diary given the diary had already been turned over to law enforcement? So why the raids? As Jonathon Turley states, "The FBI can cite the interstate elements of the alleged theft as raising a federal crime. However, what is the crime? It is not clear if they are suggesting that the responsible parties were seeking to sell the diary or that there was some national security element (which would be bizarre since Biden’s daughter was writing before her father ever became president).
Journalist organizations are routinely given material removed from businesses, agencies, or private owners without permission by confidential sources. If this is a federal crime subject to FBI raids, what happened to the new media policies of the Biden Administration after the Tucker Carlson controversy?
More importantly one should be asking is how the NYT obtained privileged communications between Project Veritas and their legal team. Is the FBI leaking the contents of PV communications to the New York Times? The fact that Project Veritas is suing The New York Times for a defamation case involving ballot harvesting in Minneapolis does not bode well for the NYT.
Lawyer Will Chamberlain took to Twitter to explain
Chamberlain went on to claim, the New York Times was not doing journalism. But theft.
James O'Keefe lawyer, Harmeet Dhillon in an interview on Thursday night slammed the Times' report as a 'hit piece' and questioned whether the DOJ had leaked the legal memos to the Times, an extraordinary and possibly illegal step.
'I can't say how the New York Times got this information, but they got it in a way that is illegal and unethical,' Dhillon told Fox News.
Dhillon went on to say, "'This is a scandal of epic proportions. Every journalist who is not worried about this should hang up their journalism card, and all First Amendment lawyers as well."
It wasn't until later in the week when a District Court Judge Analisa Torres halted the DOJ's review of two iPhones confiscated from O'Keefe.
Dhillon went on to say, "'The First Amendment won a temporary victory today, but Project Veritas has a long way to go to hold the DOJ and FBI accountable for their actions.'
The FBI confiscation of James O'Keefe's phone raises questions about the 1st Amendment rights of Journalists. By seizing the phones of O'Keefe, the FBI has the names of legal contacts, donor information, and confidential sources Project Veritas uses.
It is suspicious, to say the least, that given that the New York Times, which is protected under the same 1st Amendment Rights as that of Project Veritas is covered under would leak information provided to them by the FBI.
While it is unethical to publish materials that were obtained unethically, or illegally many journalistic outlets publish salacious material leaked from anonymous sources. Buzzfeed publishing the Steele dossier is one example. The fact that Project Veritas did not release the material because it could not confirm that it was the diary of Ashley Biden speaks volumes for their integrity.
If what happened to Project Veritas does not speak to the fragility of the 1st Amendment, nothing will. The FBI raiding the home of James O'Keefe is a violation of his rights as a member of the press. Does this raid imply that anyone without due process can have the government raid their home their private communications without due process?
The First Amendment explicitly states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
WECU will be following this case very closely and will update our readers with the latest information. If you like our articles please hit like and share.