James O’Keefe recounts his arrest and illegal 🚫 detention
James O’Keefe recounts his arrest and illegal 🚫 detention
Ten years ago, I entered a New Orleans Federal building with three other men and told the staff we were there to investigate if the phones were working to gain entry to Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.
That day, all four of us were arrested, the media reported it with total contempt for the truth. We had been arrested the morning before. The feds had shuffled us from cage to cage in the Hale Boggs Federal Building downtown, shackled us hand and foot, chained our hands to a heavy leather waist belt, and bused us out to St. Bernard’s. There they dressed us in orange jumpsuits, Tim McVeigh–style, and assigned us our scummy mattresses. In the morning, they shackled us, moved us again from cage to cage, bused us back to Boggs, and stuck us in another cage deep within the building’s bowels.
I stupidly waived my Miranda rights because I was young and under duress and repeatedly asked to answer the same question in different ways. “Tell us the truth,” they kept saying. “You know how we got Martha Stewart, don’t you—lying to the FBI.”
Throughout this inquisition, my attorney, Mike Madigan, could not reach me. He was leaving voice mails on an iPhone that had long since been confiscated. In fact, I would hear his message — “If a federal marshal is listening to this voice mail, I urge you to allow my client to call me”—only six months later when I finally retrieved the phone, now marked ‘property of the FBI.’
I would later learn the Justice Department officials had overreached. The prosecutors, in my case, were so corrupt they were forced to resign in disgrace after it was revealed while attempting to prosecute me; they were simultaneously posting anonymous comments about me online. Unfortunately, I was not the only one treated this way. In fact, it was standard practice for the federal prosecutors there.
This all happened a decade ago, but remains fresh in my mind and reinvigorated by recent headlines featuring the treatment of retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T Flynn.
As in my case, the critical exculpatory evidence is gone—gone because the video footage that would have exonerated me was deleted by the judge.
Imagine Flynn’s reaction when he was told the FBI agents’ FD-302 form, the write-up of his conversation, with agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, was lost and his prosecution for lying to them was based on their memory alone?
When I heard Flynn pleaded guilty to the charges after prosecutors threatened to go after his son—I cringed. What happened to me happens to a lot of people, but I was just a young journalist trying to break a story. If it can happen to a warrior like Flynn, no one is safe.
Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig wrote an article on Jan. 27, 2010, with the following headline: ACORN Foe Charged in Alleged Plot to Wiretap Senator. The next day, the paper retracted both the story’s narrative and headline.
Ten years later, I am still correcting lies about this incident. Project Veritas has secured over 300 retractions from news organizations, and many of them are about this one totally fabricated incident.
After my day in court in New Orleans, below is the statement I made to the media:
“Exposing corruption means standing up to power, means filming people behind closed doors. When you film, people are going to try to come after you. I don’t play judge and jury, that’s up to Americans. My mission is just to expose truth. Americans can play judge and jury. We’re not going to stop. We are going to continue our mission. Very soon, we’ll be releasing another video investigation to an organization that everyone knows very well. That’s just the beginning. This is not about me. We are going to create an army of investigative journalists nationwide. In the upcoming few weeks and months, we are going to be exposing organizations across the country, public and private, Democrat and Republican, left and right. This is about sunlight, and we are gonna be the disinfectant. People say that we created a new genre. That’s not true, we only resurrected one. It’s about truth, also known in Latin as ‘Veritas.’ Thank you.”
To this day, the media refuses to report about Project Veritas’ incredible work without referencing this incident. I entered a federal building using my real ID, however, was still charged with entering a federal building under false pretenses. This experience demonstrated when you expose the powers that be, they will stop at nothing to destroy you.
When I pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge with a statement from the Justice Department clearing me of any intention of committing a felony, I thought it would just go away. Instead, my decision not to fight has become one of my greatest regrets.
Those of you reading this who wanted to stop me, this experience only strengthened my resolve and passion for justice. Project Veritas is now unstoppable.
In a strange way, this experience ended up being a blessing in disguise.
After the judge sentenced me to three-years’ probation and prohibited me from leaving New Jersey without permission, I focused on my mission of creating a nationwide army of investigative journalists.
Probation officers showed up to my house baffled as to how I continued my work, even with the government pushing back against me at every turn. They came to quickly find out; I was not working alone anymore. I sent a few cameras to patriots around the country so people could record and expose the corruption they saw.
The truth is, without this experience, there would be no Project Veritas today.
That is why we must show resolve and determination in times of adversity because it is worth it in the end.
P.S. If you want to support Project Veritas’ mission as we continue fighting for truth, consider making a recurring monthly donation today. Project Veritas
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