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The courts are using far-right Project Veritas to go after protesters

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James O’Keefe’s latest stunt revolved around Roy Moore. - GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
  • James O’Keefe’s latest stunt revolved around Roy Moore.
Project Veritas, the creepo undercover right-wing sting team run by political activist James O’Keefe, spent months trying to fool The Washington Post into printing false accusations against theocrat and alleged child sexual abuser Roy Moore. The aim was to undermine the real allegations made by women that Moore was sexually inappropriate with them when they were minors. Moore, a twice-deposed former judge, is the only man alive who might make Luther Strange and Jeff Sessions, the two previous occupants of the Alabama Senate seat he is vying for, look almost normal.

Jaime Phillips, the woman trying to claim that Moore impregnated her when she was underage and then urged her to have an abortion, was spotted by Post reporters walking into the offices of Project Veritas. They confronted her on cameras of their own.

The Washington Post seems to want a Nobel Prize for vetting a source correctly,” O’Keefe later said in response.

On the same day that the Post story broke, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff introduced a Project Veritas video into the trial of the first six of the 193 people to be charged under the federal Riot Act for protesting during the inauguration.

It came during the testimony of Bryan Adelmeyer, an undercover officer with D.C. Metropolitan Police Department who infiltrated a Jan. 8 meeting in a church where various groups coordinated Inauguration Day activities. Kerkhoff asked Adelmeyer if he recorded the meeting and he said that his supervisors told him not to. But, he said, MPD later obtained a video of the same meeting.

It was filmed by a Project Veritas operative. And here’s where it gets really screwed up. We don’t know how much the Project Veritas video was edited.

“I’m not aware of any edits or anything,” Kerkhoff said in court. When the judge asked her who provided the video to the MPD, she replied “a third party.”

Even worse, we don’t know how many Project Veritas operatives were in the room, saying things that may have colored Adelmeyer’s perception of the events. So it taints his testimony as well. Despite the “Veritas” in its name, O’Keefe’s organization is built on deceit — and may in fact lose nonprofit status in New York because O’Keefe failed to disclose his criminal record for using false premises to enter a federal building.

By contrast, Alexei Wood, a photojournalist who is one of the defendants in the trial, is almost radically transparent about the live-stream video, which occupied much of the motion hearings over the past several months, that he filmed during the protest.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I livestreamed myself from beginning to end, and the entire world can decide whether I incited a riot,” he said. “It’s out there for the whole world to decide, and I’m glad it is.”
The government, on the other hand, is not only using Project Veritas’ unauthenticated video, but it actually edited the videos in order to obscure the identity of the still-unknown Project Veritas operative, as if he were a police officer.

This is further evidence of the deep connection between law enforcement, government officials and right-wing movements. We know that an MPD communications officer provided a list of names of the defendants to far-right conspiracy site Got News. And video obtained by the Real News shows a U.S. Park Police officer in D.C. ordering a protester to follow the orders of a militia member because “he works for me.”

Two of the officers who testified in the trial were from D.C.’s 7th district. The officers who raided the home of a man based on his alleged presence in the Project Veritas video were also 7th district.

In July, an officer from the guns and drugs “powershift” unit of the 7th was photographed wearing (and may have designed) a T-shirt with a grim reaper, white-power symbols, and the words “Powershift,” “Seventh District,” “MPDC,” and “let me see that waistband jo.” The latter is a reference to searching inside the underwear of citizens in “jump out” corner-clearing drug busts.

These D.C. guys have the same view of policing as President Donald Trump, who urged officers to be violent with suspects — or at least not to shield their heads when putting them into a car or van. And Trump, of course, also tweeted false O’Keefe-esque videos from Britain First in an attempt to stoke up anti-Muslim sentiment, or as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put it, “elevate the dialogue.”

So it is no surprise that federal prosecutors in D.C. are willing to stoop as low as O’Keefe to further their attack on the right to protest.

The last time O’Keefe tried so hard to sting the media, it involved dildos, hair grease, a boat and a CNN reporter, Abbie Boudreau, who never got on the boat, causing the explosively bad idea to backfire.

He was later accused by one of his own operatives of drugging her when she refused his romantic overtures and then enlisting an army of right-wing trolls, including her former friend Andrew Breitbart, to harass her when she tried to expose him.

But, as Moore’s campaign shows, that’s the way the far right works now. If you’re on their side, they will defend almost anything. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a story for The New York Times arguing that Charles Manson was alt-right. “Charles Manson wasn’t the inevitable outgrowth of the Sixties. If anything, he was a harbinger of today’s far right,” the Times Op-ed page tweeted with a link.

Laura Ingraham, the far-right radio host who appeared to give a Sieg Heil to Trump at the Republican National Convention last summer, tweeted a response. “‘Far right’? You mean ‘right so far,’ as in @realDonaldTrump has been right so far abt how to kick the economy into high gear.”

Make sense? No, of course it doesn’t. In their world it doesn’t need to.

And maybe that’s why Trump retweeted it.

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