32 thoughts on “James O’Keefe”

  1. As luck would have it, or unluck more likely, I was channel surfing and came across this story on the Joy Behar Show. They were “reporting” on this but in a way so that it seemed O’Keefe was arrested for the ACORN thing, AND this linked together. They were talking about right-wing dirty tricks, as if the Republicans in the Senate had signed off on this.

    Then I read the article you linked to. Regardless of what O’keefe did, he’s now on trial, in the media for the ACORN videos.

    [BTW, it was Behar, and some comedian kicking this around. True political pundits, and very knowledgeable about how bad conservatives really are. From a purely objective BDS stand point of course]

  2. and one (pardon the language) ‘oh shit!’ wipes out a million ‘atta-boys’.

    He screwed the pooch, all right. Of course, having a justice department out to get him didn’t help.

  3. He screwed the pooch, all right. Of course, having a justice department out to get him didn’t help.

    So you’re saying it’s entrapment?

  4. One problem that’s going to be an issue for the future is that conservative and libertarian activists do not have the same experience base that the left does. Left activism has matured through the 60s when radicals were doing the same over reach thing except with bombs and campus riots.

    There is a need for “Ruckus Society” type training for young conservative activists. Otherwise you’re going to be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing, either as a result of inexperience, zealotry or due to Fed agent provocateurs.

  5. Agreed with all who’ve said that if wiretapping was the object, O’Keefe & friends are in big trouble, deservedly so.

    But, if wiretapping was the object, why was O’Keefe in the office ahead of time, recording the two fake phone repairmen on his cell phone? That makes zero sense.

    Be prepared for a blizzard of accusations by all whose ACORN ox O’Keefe gored, of course. Also be prepared for the real story to be somewhat different than what’s been peddled initially.



  6. O’Keefe won’t get the kid glove treatment that the Black Panthers got from Obama’s DOJ. The Left has wanted to crucify O’Keefe ever since he lifted the veil from ACORN, and he should have been wise to that danger. Instead O’Keefe plunged into this latest caper, seemingly without understanding the legal risks involved. Too bad. This is likely to destroy what might have been a great career.

  7. There’s no evidence at all that they were going to tap the phones. That’s just what the FBI agent put in his affidavit to make it seem darker and more malevolent than it probably was. How would they have tapped the phones, hmm? Were they carrying large bundles of wire? Small concealable radio transmitters? Mniaturized solid-state bugs they bought at a CIA surplus auction?

    Let’s not be silly. At best they were carrying a pair of linesman’s pliers and some screwdrivers. How would they have bugged the phones with that? Particularly since it’s very unlikely the phones are still run by a forest of wires stuffed into a giant console, so you can, just like in 1960s Mission Impossible, strip the insulation off the right pair –conveniently labeled “Senator Landrieu’s Private Line” ha ha — and splice in the dastardly device. If they’re modern phones — and why would a Senator have unmodern phones? — than bugging them takes some fancy electronics and probably some software hacking. It’s totally implausible that this was their aim.

    So what were they doing? Who knows? But the modus operandi is clear enough: they were going to bullshit their way into Senator Landrieu’s office, in exactly the same way they bullshitted their way into the ACORN offices, by pretending to be someone on some kind of legitimate errand, and film the results and then…what? Got me. Get some kind of incriminating thing on tape, I guess. We may never know.

    What they forgot, however, is how jealously the law preserves the rights of our masters, the lawmakers. If you bullshit your way into an ACORN office, or the home of a private citizen, well shame on those idiots for swallowing your tall tales. But if you bullshit your way into a Senator’s office — whoa! That’s a felony, worth 10 years in the Federal pen.

    One problem that’s going to be an issue for the future is that conservative and libertarian activists do not have the same experience base that the left does.

    No, that’s not the problem. You’re forgetting that the leftists run the government, and the conservatives and libertarians run private enterprise. But the leftists have made quite sure that there are many reasons you can trample on the privacy and property rights of “mere” private enterprise, or private citizens — but the privacy and property rights of the government are preserved with vicious and zealously enforced law. The problem is not a lack of experience, the problem is the game is ludicrously rigged in favor of the leftists. Only they can operate “outside the law” because they are the lawyers, and they made and continue to make the laws.

  8. Entrapment? Are you smoking crack? O’Keefe walks in with the son of the District Attorney of Western Louisiana and flashes an AT & T card.

    Carl Pham – obviously you’re not a network IT person. POTS lines coming in from the LEC still go to 66 blocks, and can still be tapped “old school” by making a cross-connect. The office PBX may be IP-based, in which case you can’t as easily get inter-office calls, but you’ll get all the calls in and out to the outside world.

  9. O’Keefe walks in with the son of the District Attorney of Western Louisiana and flashes an AT & T card.

    It’s not significant, but O’Keefe wasn’t one of the two people who pretended to be telephone repairmen. He was videoing them. Ok, maybe it was significant in that recording evidence of a crime that you are committing has to be even dumber than just sneaking in to tap phone lines.

  10. It’s not stupid to ask for clarification on what others believe.

    It is when the comment that provokes the question already contains the answer.

  11. So the Holder thugs drop their judgement against the NBPP, stop investigating Alan Mollohan with no explanation, stiff the Civil Rights Commission and then in less than half a business day, have a sworn affidavit from an FBI agent and signed by a judge on this case.

    Yes, he was stupid to be involved.

  12. and can still be tapped “old school” by making a cross-connect.

    Uh huh. And then what? Somebody hides in the closet and listens? They leave behind a recorder — a tape recorder, I guess, given the level of technology here? Or do they have a tiny radio, do you suppose?

  13. Note that the charge O’Keefe and friends are copping to, scamming their way in to a Federal building, under 18 USC 1036 is good for a max of six months, absent intent to commit a felony once in. 18 USC 1036 also refers to scamming into US vessels or aircraft, or into secure areas of airports – IE, scamming into a Senator’s public office is hardly what that max six months is aimed at. What O’Keefe etc have admitted is a wrist-slap offense. Absent, of course, political pressure to crucify them. The Holder DOJ, political? Nahhh…

    The other section of 18 USC cited in the FBI affidavit, 1362 (thanks, Hotair) is really interesting.

    It does not say a thing about wiretapping. It’s all about damaging facilities or interfering with comms operated or controlled by the US. So, the FBI has nothing to indicate they planned a wiretap, or they sure would have been charged with that. From what’s been published about the gang’s actions, there’s no question of damaging facilities, and even interfering with comms sounds like a real stretch. Presumably it’s the best the feds could come up with.

    This is all likely to be a big legal yawn, from what’s public so far.



  14. Carl Pham – well, you could make your own. The box shown is the size of a regular modular jack – easily “lost” in the chaos of the typical office phone closet.

    That particular box transmits via FM, but if you can find / identify a spare line (alarm lines are good for this) you can redirect the traffic down that line to any regular phone. If you’re gutsy, you can order your own line installed at a site. My LEC doesn’t check if I have the authority or not to order a line for a given location.

    So, you then:
    1) somebody calls the bug from outside and leaves the line open.
    2) The other end of the bug is cross-connected to selected lines
    3) the listener records / monitors calls

  15. A prosecutor/blogger has a new post on the matter.

    When I first read a news story about this yesterday, it sounded to me like O’Keefe and company were being accused of an attempt to wiretap or bug Landrieu’s phones. Indeed, that’s the way I characterized the Government’s claim in my post based on a news story. But now I have had a chance to review the affidavit. And it doesn’t say that.

    The link to the affidavit is here. I challenge you to find me the language that accuses Keefe et al. of a “plot to bug” Landrieu’s office, or an “alleged wiretap scheme.”

    It isn’t there.

    What you will see is an allegation that three of the four men entered the office pretending to be telephone company employees. O’Keefe was allegedly holding his cell phone as if to record the other two on video. You know, the kind of undercover recording thing that he does.

    One witness allegedly saw one of the other two men “take the handset of the phone and manipulate it.” This is the main phone at the reception desk, presumably in full view of everyone. What does “manipulate” mean? I don’t know. Does it mean he simply picked the phone up? That would technically comport with one dictionary definition of “manipulate” — to “operate with . . . the hands.”

    The language implies something more sinister, to be sure. Implies If the man had tried to take the phone apart it would have been simple to say so.

    Then the affidavit has them asking for access to the telephone closet to perform repair work. It does not say they went into the closet. Were they simply waiting for someone to ask: “What repair work? There’s nothing wrong with the phones!”? I don’t know.

    I do know this: the affidavit does not say one word about any of them possessing any listening devices. Not one.

  16. Seems unlikely that this is political espionage. If it were, they’d have better equipment and professionals doing the work. If it was supposed to be another sting, setting up a wiretap would be an easy way to get into trouble, too, as the information they’d have access to would likely demonstrate the existence of a wiretap.

    Not sure what was happening, and there’s always the possibility of stupid shenanigans, but I don’t trust any administration’s DOJ or FBI very much. Too political.

  17. Considering that:
    1) Bugging devices are the size of a deck of cards or smaller
    2) The FBI did not arrest the men on site or get a chance to search them

    The FBI probably decided to charge the men with what they could prove, not what they suspected.

    I mean, what other rational explanation is there? What would waiting for someone to ask: “What repair work? prove? It’s not like Senator Landrieu hired or has any particular control over who secures the phone room at a Federal office building. That’s a GSA civil servant, probably hired years ago.

  18. According to the blog article I linked to above, when arrested the men had no listening devices on them. They reportedly had one in a car parked miles away but nothing of the like on them.

    I don’t know what they were doing and whatever it was seems pretty stupid, but they weren’t doing any wiretapping.

  19. Larry J – if you look at my link, you can see that the actual bug is so small that it could easily be tossed into a gutter or trash bin.

    Again – what other explanation makes sense for wanting to go to the phone closet?

  20. According to the arresting documents, there was no bug found. We can speculate that there might’ve been a bug but none was found. That’s all we know at the moment.

    As to their motivations, I have no idea. There is speculation they might’ve wanted to see if the phones were rigged to give busy signals to callers. The link I provided mentions that callers have complained for weeks that all they get are busy signals when they call her office while they can get though to the other Louisianna senator’s office. Perhaps her call volume is higher given the “Louisianna Purchase” or perhaps her phone system is filtering calls. At this point, I don’t think anyone knows.

  21. Larry J – I said “makes sense.” Visually inspecting a phone system to determine if it’s been rigged to give callers busy signals doesn’t. I read the comments at the site you linked to – pulling a line from a switch does not busy it out. Instead the line rings no answer. Hunt groups won’t roll to the next line – so no calls get in and nobody gets a busy signal.

  22. At this point, all we’re doing is guessing without any evidence. Whatever he was doing there, it was stupid. I think we can agree on that. I don’t know what laws he might have broken. Until then, he has to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Since he inflicted so much damage on ACORN, he can truly expect to get screwed by Obama’s Justice Department. Doing whatever he did sure sounds dumb at this point.

  23. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/01/acorn_gotcha_man_arrested_for.html
    “After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn’t working. Flanagan did the same.”
    Well this points to them testing the line assuming they accurately made the call and not faked it to see the box. Though can see them video record the phone on the hook and the phone dialing the office with out connecting. Why have both “call” the phone if it was just a ploy to get to the box? and okeefe videotaping it all.
    A busy signal can be caused by shorting out a line, though assuming a analog/digital line.

  24. O’Keefe broke wiretapping laws with his ACORN videos, but instead of being prosecuted he was hailed as a hero and paid by Breitbart to continue gathering his “investigations”. Is it that surprising that he’d feel encouraged to continue taking legal risks?

  25. I posted what I think is a reasonable scenario, based on a post at Patterico, on the Volokh Conspiracy site. Rather than regurgitate it here, the high points are:

    (a) this kerfuffle seems to be about Sen. Landrieu’s claim that no one can get through to her because her phone lines are swamped with calls, and

    (b) O’Keefe’s perception that this is an opportunity to expose more hypocrisy by governmental officials.

    I propose that they were looking for evidence that Landrieu was blocking calls, not planning on bugging the phone lines. The fact that bugging devices are not mentioned in the indictment suggests that the latter scenario is implausible at best.


  26. “If true, they just confessed to a felony – disabling telephones.”

    Or to faking the attempt to dial in via cell, so the desk phone would seem dead and they could record the reaction from the receptionist. Simpler, in closer accord with accounts so far, and thus more likely.

    I can’t assert there’d then be no felony involved, mind, Federal law at this point having more felonies than a junkyard dog has fleas. But there’s certainly nothing any sane jury would see as a serious crime.

    Of course, given the history of high-profile political prosecutions in recent decades, a sane jury is no safe assumption either. I think you’re right – O’Keefe et al are likely to be found guilty of multiple felonies. Hang them!



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