A number of civil liberties and journalism advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, came to the defense of Project Veritas following FBI raids on multiple members of the organization.
Earlier this month, the FBI raided the homes of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and two other individuals associated with the organization. This week, the ACLU issued a statement expressing concern over the raids, although the organization also condemned the work of Project Veritas at the same time.
Don’t think journalists should be cheerleading this one https://t.co/JcrdYSwkvk
— Ben Smith (@benyt) November 9, 2021
“Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all,” ACLU senior staff attorney Brian Hauss said. “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.”
The raids were connected to a diary that purportedly belonged to President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley, which Project Veritas acquired last year. Project Veritas did not publish any contents of the diary, but the FBI is investigating how it was acquired and whether it may have been stolen by a whistleblower who delivered it to the organization. (RELATED: Court Prohibits NYT From Publishing Project Veritas Legal Memos)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also issued a statement condemning the raids. “While we do not endorse some of the tactics Project Veritas employs, the FBI’s recent raids on the organization’s founder and his associates represent a concerning overreach by law enforcement,” CPJ U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen said. “The government must provide a clear link between members of Project Veritas and alleged criminal activity before searching their homes for information about source material. Conducting raids without this kind of link sets a dangerous precedent that could allow law enforcement to search and confiscate reporters’ unpublished source material in vague attempts to identify whistleblowers.”