What Durham is exposing may very well have more dramatic impacts on the United States and American citizens than 9/11. Multiples of what Nixon did… Pray for back-bone in American citizens to reclaim what is so close to being lost. Our constitutional government and American way of life. mrossol
I have no confidence that I would be treated lawfully by the DOJ or FBI. If they do to US Congressmen and decorated military officers what they have done, I’m a gnat in comparison. mrossol
The Federalist, 12/7/2021
Attorney General Merrick Garland still refuses to retract the memo he sent last month instructing the Department of Justice to scrutinize parents protesting at local school board meetings. Now his department may have committed another civil-liberties abuse with its raid on Project Veritas leader James O’Keefe.
Project Veritas is a right-wing media organization known for going undercover inside progressive institutions and using its findings to embarrass them. Early morning a week ago Saturday, FBI agents raided Mr. O’Keefe’s New York apartment, handcuffed him in the hallway and seized two cell phones. He has not been charged with a crime.
The subject of the investigation is apparently a diary believed to belong to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden. Project Veritas says it was given the diary by two individuals last year and chose not to publish it because its authenticity couldn’t be verified, then handed it over to law enforcement. The diary was later published by an obscure website.
It’s settled law that it’s not a crime for journalists to publish information that was obtained unlawfully. If it was a crime, most of America’s largest news organizations would be criminal enterprises. Project Veritas says the people who gave the group the diary said it was not stolen. How the diary was obtained, and how it came to be published by a different website, is still murky.
Yet the search warrant says Justice is investigating “possession of stolen goods” and related offenses, suggesting Project Veritas or its employees may be targets. Imagine if the Trump Administration raided New York Times editors’ homes after the publication of the President’s tax records—or even for an investigation into documents they did not ultimately publish.
Nothing that invasive ever happened. But partly in response to the furor over the Trump Administration’s supposed threat to press freedom, Mr. Garland published guidelines in July narrowing Justice’s ability to seize information from reporters. The policy said Justice “will no longer use compulsory legal process” against journalists “acting within the scope of newsgathering activities.”
There are exceptions for things like the threat of imminent terrorist acts, or where a reporter “has used criminal methods, such as breaking and entering” to obtain information. Mr. Garland’s deputy must also approve any searches.
The seizure of Mr. O’Keefe’s phones gives the FBI access to all of Project Veritas’ investigations, not just records related to the diary. When Mr. O’Keefe’s lawyer asked the government after the raid to pause its search for a day to address legal issues regarding “attorney client privileged information, material protected by the First Amendment, and confidential donor information,” the government refused.
Last Thursday federal Judge Analisa Torres ordered the government to pause. She’ll consider Mr. O’Keefe’s motion to have a court-appointed “special master” keep the FBI from snooping on protected records.
The government also confirmed in correspondence with Mr. O’Keefe’s attorney that it “complied with all applicable regulations and policies regarding potential members of the news media”—meaning Mr. Garland’s guidance—in executing the search warrant.
That suggests Mr. Garland’s policy supposedly expanding press protections does the opposite. Reporters who obtain potentially stolen documents related to a public figure may be subject to the same treatment as Mr. O’Keefe—homes raided and devices seized and searched with no special dispensation for journalistic activity.
Journalism isn’t a shield against lawbreaking, and if Mr. O’Keefe committed a crime in obtaining the diary, he is subject to prosecution. We don’t agree with or practice all of Mr. O’Keefe’s methods, but what he does is reporting that qualifies as journalism.
The circumstances of the FBI raid were punitive. Project Veritas was in the process of complying with a subpoena. On Monday the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion for the court to unseal the documents that were the basis for the search warrant.
Those documents better contain very strong evidence of a crime committed by Project Veritas to justify this behavior by a Democratic Administration toward a journalist. If not, the seizure of Mr. O’Keefe’s records is another abuse of civil liberties by Mr. Garland’s department, and Congress ought to ask what the Attorney General knew about it.
Wow! I think this is momentous. Would not be surprised to see more ‘germinate’. Nor would it surprise me if the ‘Woke Left’ go after the graduates, trying to hamper their employment prospects. A sorry, if not evil, bunch. mrossol
“We’re done waiting for America’s universities to fix themselves.”
- All-star higher education critics such as former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Harvard academic Steven Pinker, former Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers, and playwright David Mamet have launched a new liberal arts university to counter what its founders believe is a growing culture of censorship on college campuses, reports The Texas Tribune.
- “We’re done waiting for America’s universities to fix themselves,” states a promotional video for The University of Austin (UATX) posted on Twitter Monday morning. “So we’re starting a new one.”
- “Universities devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth are the cornerstone of a free and ﬂourishing democratic society,” reads the UATX website.
- “For universities to serve their purpose, they must be fully committed to freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse,” it goes on to say, adding, “In order to maintain these principles, UATX will be ﬁercely independent—ﬁnancially, intellectually, and politically.”
- The university’s leaders are in the process of acquiring land in the Austin area, developing degree programs (undergrad program estimated to arrive in the fall of 2024), and seeking accreditation, notes the Tribune.
- In addition to offering a new curriculum, UATX boasts its “novel” financial model that lowers tuition for students and avoids “costly administrative excess and overreach.”
A COMMITMENT TO FREEDOM OF INQUIRY:
- The University of Austin promises to restore the place of “freedom of inquiry and civil discourse” in higher education.
- “Our students and faculty will confront the most vexing questions of human life and civil society,” another UATX page reads.
- “We will create a community of conversation grounded in intellectual humility that respects the dignity of each individual and cultivates a passion for truth.”
A NEW FINANCIAL MODEL:
- UATX aims to redesign how universities operate by “developing a novel financial model.”
- “We will lower tuition by avoiding costly administrative excess and overreach,” the site reads.
- “We will focus our resources intensively on academics, rather than amenities.”
- “We will align institutional incentives with student outcomes.”
AN INNOVATIVE CURRICULUM:
- “Our curriculum is being designed in partnership not only with the world’s great thinkers but also with its great doers—visionaries who have founded bold ventures, artists and writers of the highest order, pioneers in tech, and the leading lights in engineering and the natural sciences.”
- “Students will apply their foundational skills to practical problems in ﬁelds such as entrepreneurship, public policy, education, and engineering,” the site goes on reading.
CONSERVATIVE MEDIA PRAISE FOR UATX:
- One Washington Examiner publication referred to the creation of UATX as “The best news in academia in a long, long time.”
- “Put another way, the new University of Austin will stand against ‘cancel culture,’ speech codes, leftist indoctrination, ‘safe spaces’ for students who can’t bear opinions different from their own, obsessions with race and sex to the exclusion of substance, racial preferences in admissions, and hugely expensive administrative staffs,” the piece goes on to say. “True open-mindedness, not ideological straitjackets, will be the norm.”
- “One might say this will be a campus where scholars will be open to questions and to questing, to discussion without repercussion, not because those scholars fear they are wrong but because they always strive to be more right. The humility to acknowledge human fallibility, including one’s own, is a necessary predicate for advancing and increasing knowledge rather than just regurgitating it.”
- “[A]nyone who doesn’t welcome this broad-minded, cross-ideological entry into U.S. higher education has no real love of learning. The new University of Austin is a grand experiment worthy of universal applause,” the piece concludes.
- Conservative radio host Glenn Beck tweeted the UATX founding is “the best news I’ve heard in 20 years.
Jon Fleetwood is Managing Editor for American Faith and author of “An American Revival: Why American Christianity Is Failing & How to Fix It.”