(LifeSiteNews) – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly sought payment information, browsing history, and other personal information on the conservative journalists of Project Veritas, according to documents provided to the organization by Apple and Google.
Veritas reports that the two computer/internet giants came forward with details on nine secret subpoenas the Biden DOJ issued them, seeking journalists’ payment information, MAC addresses, browsing history, and other personal information from not only Veritas journalists, but also those journalists’ security detail.
“By no reasonable measure can the wholesale seizure of newsgathering materials, attorney-client privileged communications, and irrelevant personal information be considered a proportional response to an alleged low-grade larceny, much less to a non-crime,” says Veritas attorney Paul Calli, who calls the administration’s actions violations of the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Privacy Protection Act, and Common Law Reporter’s Privilege.
Even the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it was “deeply troubled” by the Justice Department’s “secret electronic surveillance.”
The news follows revelations that the DOJ issued seven similar orders, warrants, and subpoenas to Microsoft, obtained from six Southern District of New York (SDNY) magistrates over a 16-month period, which it did not disclose to U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres or the special master she appointed to review Veritas devices previously seized by the FBI, Judge Barbara Jones.
The situation stems from a November 2021 FBI raid on the homes of current and former Veritas journalists in a search ostensibly for a diary that may have been owned by presidential daughter Ashley Biden. The group’s founder, James O’Keefe, said they were given the diary late in the 2020 presidential campaign but opted not to pursue the story since its authenticity could not be verified. Veritas never reported on the book’s contents, and O’Keefe maintains that Biden family representatives declined their offer to return the diary (which would have confirmed it belonged to Ashley Biden), so the group gave it to law enforcement.
That month, The New York Times published an article accusing Veritas of occupying a “gray area between investigative journalism and political spying,” and purports to back up that thesis by citing “internal documents,” including “a series of memos written by the group’s lawyer” regarding how to ensure its undercover operations, which entail journalists misrepresenting themselves and surreptitiously recording subjects, remain on the right side of the law.
The Times’ publication of privileged attorney-client communications sparked outrage among conservative legal analysts, as well as disturbing questions as to how the paper obtained those communications in the first place, with many suspecting the FBI leaked them after acquiring them during the raid. Judge Torres agreed that the matter posed “potential First Amendment concerns.”
Project Veritas, which specializes in undercover videos targeting various left-wing political and media institutions, has been a recurring target over the years of Democrats and their allies due to the revelations of its investigations, from the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and radicalism in public education, to election fraud in government agencies, to dishonesty and bias in mainstream press giants.
“The government knows the truth: Project Veritas engaged in journalism protected by the First Amendment,” says O’Keefe. “As the Reporters Committee has requested of Federal Judge Analisa Torres, it is time for the DOJ’s affidavits, by which they obtained these unjustified subpoenas, be unsealed.”