The American Civil Liberties Union said Sunday that the FBI pre-dawn raid on James O'Keefe's apartment, which reports indicate regards Ashley Biden's diary, is a threat to press freedom. However, it is at this time not clear why the raid was conducted. Although some reports have indicated, it has to do with an alleged theft of Biden's daughter's diary.
But according to O'Keefe, the diary was given to him by a source over a year ago, which the source claims they obtained legally. Additionally, O'Keefe claims that because he could not verify the document's validity, he chose not to run the story and turn it into law enforcement. This raises questions as to why the FBI would decide to raid his home nearly a year later in a matter purportedly related to the diary.
On Sunday, ACLU's senior staff attorney, Brian Hauss, called the raid an attack on press freedom.
"Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all," Hauss stated. "Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom. Unless the government had good reason to believe that Project Veritas employees were directly involved in the criminal theft of the diary, it should not have subjected them to invasive searches and seizures. We urge the court to appoint a special master to ensure that law enforcement officers review only those materials that were lawfully seized and that are directly relevant to a legitimate criminal investigation."
As American Military News reported, O'Keefe woke to a pre-dawn raid of FBI agents banging on his door in Westchester County, New York, at 6 in the morning on Nov. 6.
O'Keefe told FOX News that he "woke up to a pre-dawn raid banging on my door. I went to the door to answer the door and there were ten FBI agents with a battering ram [and] white blinding lights. They turned me around, handcuffed me, and threw me against the hallway. I was partially clothed in front of my neighbors. They confiscated my phone. They raided my apartment. On my phone were many of my reporters notes. A lot of my sources unrelated to this story. And a lot of confidential donor information to our news organization."
In May, ABC reported Biden saying that the Justice Department's attempt to seize journalists' private information is wrong. "Absolutely, positively, it's wrong. It's simply, simply wrong," Biden said.
University of Minnesota law professor Jane Kirtley said that if these reports are accurate, then "this is just beyond belief. I'm not a big fan of Project Veritas, but this is just over the top. I hope they get a serious reprimand from the court because I think this is just wrong."
"This is really a test in this administration of whether they're going to put their money where their mouth is," Kirtley continued. "If they're trying to be seen as great champions of press freedom, this is a pretty bad way to start."
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