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Guerrilla journalist James O’Keefe, whose undercover projects have targeted Planned Parenthood and ACORN, has filed a lawsuit against Main Justice, charging that the organization maliciously published false statements about him.
O’Keefe’s work, through his Project Veritas, is considered one of the reasons that ACORN largely was defunded by Congress.
But in an announcement about the new legal action, O’Keefe said the lawsuit concerns statements Main Justice made about his encounter with the staff of Sen. Mary Landrieu.
The original story from Main Justice described O’Keefe’s actions as trying to “bug” the senator’s telephones.
O’Keefe said Project Veritas “first provided public documentation proving Main Justice’s reporting incorrect and gave the publication a chance to issue a correction. Main Justice refused to do so.”
“Attempting to ‘bug’ phones in a senator’s office is a serious crime and a grossly irresponsible thing to misreport, especially given that the court affidavit is widely available to the public,” O’Keefe said. “By using the precise word (‘tamper’) the affidavit states did not occur, Main Justice unequivocally slandered not only me, but also Project Veritas. It is clear Main Justice deliberately distorted information, committing libel.”
“It is ironic that Main Justice claims to be ‘bona fide journalists,’ given their lack of journalistic ethics. They claimed to seek comment from me, but refuse to provide any evidence of doing so,” O’Keefe continued.
O’Keefe noted that after the correction was requested, the article was changed to report he “tampered” with the phones.
“This statement is knowingly false and deceptive given that Main Justice was provided an affidavit from the Eastern Louisiana District court, specifically stating there was no attempt to ‘tamper’ or commit any other felony on that day,” he said.
He pleaded guilty to entry by false pretenses in the situation where apparently he and his undercover camera crew were attempting to film conversations with the senator’s staff.
Specifically, the federal government’s document stated, “Further investigation did not uncover evidence that the defendants intended to commit any felony after the entry by false pretenses despite their initial statements to the staff … requesting access to the central phone system.
“Instead, the government’s evidence would show that the defendants misrepresented themselves and their purpose for gaining access to the central phone system to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls to the senator’s staff and capture the conversation on video, not to actually tamper with the phone system, or to commit any other felony.”
The Main Justice article continued to charge “The activists had pretended to be telephone repairmen and were trying to tamper with Landrieu’s phones.”
The organization posted an update this week admitting the article at first accused O’Keefe of “apparently trying to bug” the phones. The reference was changed to “tamper,” Main Justice said.
“Needless to say, we strongly disagree with his claim and will give a full answer to his allegations in court,” the site said.
Former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams, in his blog, described Main Justice as “a barely read blog that serves as a private mouthpiece for Eric Holder’s operation.”
He was an election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights Section at the U.S. Department of Justice.
He was subjected to a foul-mouthed tirade when he confronted former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten on camera at Louisiana’s Tulane University School of Law, where Letten is an assistant dean.
“You are a nasty, little, cowardly spud,” shouted Letten. “All of you, you’re hobbits. You are less than I can ever tell you. You are scum. Do you understand?”
Letten further blasted O’Keefe as a “snail,” an “a–hole,” an “extremist nut job” and a “horse’s a–.”
Letten and O’Keefe have been at odds with one another since 2010, when O’Keefe was arrested and accused of using false pretenses to sneak into the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
As U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Louisiana, Letten briefly led the felony prosecution of O’Keefe, but later recused himself from the case. The charges were eventually lowered to a single misdemeanor for which O’Keefe pleaded guilty.
Letten then resigned his position as U.S. attorney late last year amid a scandal over prosecutors in his office defaming federal targets through anonymous online comments.
O’Keefe maintains Letten in 2010 used similarly unscrupulous means to leak privileged emails to the press to “foment public opinion against Mr. O’Keefe.”
In the confrontational video at Tulane, Letten claims to be upset because O’Keefe and his cameras first visited Letten’s home and “terrorized” his wife.
O’Keefe claims the visit was only to seek out Letten, and that the interaction with his wife was brief and respectful.
But furthermore, O’Keefe claims, the former U.S. attorney’s tirade and use of police enforcers reveals just how much venom the political and academic class holds toward the independent news media.
“While in Louisiana on another investigation, I decided to approach Mr. Letten and question his conduct regarding the criminal case from 2010 – a right I not only have as a citizen, but as a journalist as well,” said O’Keefe in a statement. “But this video is about much more than just Mr. Letten. With the DOJ attempting to jail journalists and the continued discussion about a selectively enforced shield law, the question of what constitutes journalism is now more important than ever.”
Following the confrontation, WVUE-TV in New Orleans reported, Tulane police escorted O’Keefe’s group off campus, and the university followed with an order barring the filmmaker from returning.
Video of the confrontation, as edited and released by O’Keefe, can be seen below.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following contains several instances of strong and obscene language.