by Roger Kimball
Whatever else can be said about the FBI’s vendetta against James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, his investigative journalism enterprise, it is a useful reminder of two things: 1) that we increasingly live in a two-tier society in which the lower tier can expect the arbitrary intrusion of all the coercive elements of the state, and 2) that the fundamental legitimacy of many important American institutions is draining away rapidly like a full bathtub that is suddenly unplugged.
Scott Johnson at Powerline has an excellent summary of the case thus far.
Last Thursday, the FBI conducted a raid against two former employees of Project Veritas.
A few days later, they conducted a dawn raid against O’Keefe himself. It was the full monty.
According to Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for PV, the G-men showed up with a battering ram, cuffed O’Keefe, and tossed him out in the hallway in his underwear as they proceeded to ransack his home.
They made off with lots of booty, including two mobile phones chock full of privileged attorney-client communications, donor information, as well as information about ongoing Project Veritas investigations.
Yes, but what were the Feds looking for.
Why the fancy-dress SWAT-team routine?
They were apparently looking for a diary kept by Ashley Biden, daughter of Joe Biden, President of the United States.
The diary, you see, may be real—or maybe not. If real, it may have been stolen. It may have been left behind in a room once occupied by Ashley Biden.
Project Veritas, in any event, denies having stolen it.
From bits that were leaked back before the 2020 election, we can say that the document is certainly full of items that, if true, are embarrassing to Joe Biden.
But think about this.
What if your uncle, who enjoyed a Tabasco youth, decided to write his memoirs, naming names and describing situations. He left his diary behind at a hotel and it’s vanished. What do you do?
If you are P.G. Wodehouse, you have Bertie Wooster find and destroy the thing.
If you are Joe Biden, you call your “geheime Staatspolizei,” formerly known as the FBI, and put them on the case.
Merrick Garland, attorney general of the United States (it sounds funny doesn’t it?) must have peeled off a number of agents he had just assigned to badger parents who attend school board meetings and set them looking for the diary.
But what if it is your Uncle Fred who was scribbling his embarrassing memoirs? Can you call your Uncle Joe and have him put the FBI on the case?
Of course you can’t. Who do you think you are?
Remember Hunter Biden’s laptop?
That was as good as a diary.
Better even. For the salacious things it contained were not mere assertions, musings or fantasies inscribed with pen on paper.
There were photos and videos and emails and other documents—hard evidence, in other words.
But the entire regime media complex closed ranks over Hunter’s laptop.
The New York Post broke the story.
The New York Post was quickly kicked off Twitter.
Regime spokesmen denounced it as “Russian disinformation.”
(I wonder if there are some Russians who are receiving royalties for all the drama they have, by proxy, provided over the last 4 or 5 years? I feel sure someone should be compensated.)
Hunter’s laptop became unmentionable, like potatoes during the Irish potato famine.
The spectacle of the FBI breaking down the doors of journalists was too much even for Analisa Torres, the judge who issued the original search warrant.
After the assault on O’Keefe’s property, Torres ordered that the agents pause in their efforts to extract data from O’Keefe’s phones.
The Feds apparently took this as their signal to start leaking material about O’Keefe and Project Veritas to The New York Times.
As of this writing, our former paper of record has published not one not two not three but four separate stories about the investigation into O’Keefe and Project Veritas.
As Scott Johnson delicately suggests, the Times pieces are full of their signature snottiness, questioning whether Project Veritas is a really even a legitimate news organization.
Andy McCarthy, in a column on Nov. 12, offers some salutary advice for Judge Torres.
She should start, McCarthy writes, by ordering the U.S. Attorney to provide the court with affidavits detailing communications between prosecutors and the media.
She should also ask Merrick Garland to refer the matter to the Justice Department.
What do you suppose the chances of that are?
I’d say approximately zero.
In his conclusion, McCarthy touches upon what I think is the critical issue.
“You don’t need to love Project Veritas,” he writes, “to be offended by the blatant government leaking of confidential investigative information and by the Times’ hypocritical coverage.”
Indeed. As it happens, I do rather love Project Veritas, as much for its insouciance as for its what’s-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander deployment of Alinskyite tactics against the Left.
Why should the Left have a monopoly on ferreting out hypocrisy and corruption?
I am not sure I would agree with McCarthy’s subsequent description of the Times as “the crown jewel of American journalism.”
I think the paper is utterly bankrupt and completely untrustworthy. I have vowed never to speak to a reporter from the Times. I cancelled my subscription years ago and cannot remember the last time I held a copy in my hands.
But McCarthy is right that the paper endeavored to brand Project Veritas as “a lower caste” enterprise, “not entitled to the presumptions of privacy and legitimacy that the Times demands for its own information-collection practices.”
You can say that again.
We’re back again at that “two-tier” structure I began with.
McCarthy is correct in his implication that the Times’s actions cast doubt on its own journalistic integrity.
But I think the episode uncovers, yet again, a sickness that is far deeper.
The moral bankruptcy of the Times is merely a reflection of a much larger bankruptcy: the bankruptcy of the institutions and the social compact that once underwrote our society.
In my view, that bankruptcy includes, but is not limited to, the FBI and the Department of Justice under whose aegis it operates.
Both have become thoroughly politicized shils for the permanent regime apparat that now governs us.
More and more people are waking up to this dispensation.
Merrick Garland, testifying recently before Congress about his memo siccing the FBI on recalcitrant parents who dared to question their local school boards, noted that the DOJ employs some 115,000 people.
That is indeed a lot of people—many too many, I’d say.
But even with 115,000 people at his disposal, the ghoulish Garland will find that there are not enough SWAT teams, handcuffs, or battering rams to save his secret police from the fury of an awakened populace.
Project Veritas is part of the general reveille, and thank God for that.
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Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”
Photo “James O’Keefe” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.
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