James O’Keefe arrested for trying to tap “interfere with” Mary Landrieu’s phones; Update: Breitbart statement added

posted at 4:45 pm on January 26, 2010 by Allahpundit

Here’s a PDF of the FBI affidavit. According to paragraph 10, O’Keefe’s already admitted to assisting in the the plan to enter the office under false pretenses. Ohhhh boy:

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu’s 10th floor office, O’Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O’Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

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.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and both went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men’s credentials, after which they stated they left them in their vehicle.

“Flanagan” is actually Robert Flanagan, son of William Flanagan, the current … acting U.S. Attorney for western Louisiana. Ohhhhhhhh boy.

The editors of Big Government claim they knew nothing about it, which is almost certainly true: No way would Breitbart be so stupid as to sign off on tapping a senator’s phone. What makes this doubly bizarre, of course, is that O’Keefe was already threatened with legal action by ACORN for surreptitiously videotaping inside their offices. You’d think if he was planning to try something as insanely underhanded as this, he might have done, say, a Wikipedia search about whether it’s illegal to, um, tamper with government phone lines.

Here are the two statutes cited in the affidavit, incidentally: Sections 1036 and 1362 of Title 18. The former, entering federal property under false pretenses, is clear cut, which is probably why the four allegedly already admitted to it. The more serious charge is section 1362:

Whoever willfully or maliciously injures or destroys any of the works, property, or material of any radio, telegraph, telephone or cable, line, station, or system, or other means of communication, operated or controlled by the United States, or used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States, whether constructed or in process of construction, or willfully or maliciously interferes in any way with the working or use of any such line, or system, or willfully or maliciously obstructs, hinders, or delays the transmission of any communication over any such line, or system, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

I assume the defense is going to be something like, “We never intended to tap the phone, we simply wanted to show how easy it would be if someone wanted to do it,” but even so: Ohhhhhhhhhhhh boy. Ten years.

Update: Breitbart says he didn’t know.

“We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O’Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. We only just learned about the alleged incident this afternoon. We have no information other than what has been reported publicly by the press. Accordingly, we simply are not in a position to make any further comment.”

Update (1/27): The editor of Big Government e-mails to note that the FBI affidavit doesn’t explicitly accuse O’Keefe of trying to tap the phone but of “willfully and maliciously interfering” with the phone system. Fair enough; I’ve changed the headline to make that clearer. Here’s Breitbart’s post calling people out for jumping the gun:

I’m sure [media] would like to believe O’Keefe is stupid enough to try to “wiretap” a sitting U.S. senator in broad daylight during office hours, while recording the entire sequence of events on his cell phone camera. And they’d like you to believe it, too.

But there is absolutely no allegation in the criminal complaint that “wiretapping” or “bugging” is any part of this case, just the charge that O’Keefe and the others entered Sen. Landrieu’s office in New Orleans “for the purpose of interfering with the office’s telephone system.”


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The Times-Picayune has not posted the full FBI affidavit, but the details they have are damning.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 12:24 PM

LOL, the details in the 1998 indictment of bin Laden by Clinton’s Justice Department were also “damning”, but you Leftists ignored them because they didn’t fit your agenda.
Likewise, a Clinton-appointed Federal Judge in 2003 ruled in a lawsuit that based on the evidence presented, Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Those damning details were also laughed at by your side.

BTW Faux News posted the affidavit yesterday, proving that they are not trying to “ignore” this story. I’ve not opened this to see if it’s the full affidavit, so you may want to check it yourself.

http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/012610_affidavit.pdf

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2010 at 12:41 PM

WE should defend the guy, this is a witch hunt, I have a very good inkling of it. Obama’s DHS secretary, the Janet REno look-a-like, had listed people like us on Hot Air as enemies of the state, remember folks. Is it that hard to believe that they will prosecute any “right wing” journalist. Look what they did to Walpin?

immigrantchick on January 27, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Great post and totally agree! Until more is known, I’m sticking with James and Andrew Breitbart.

Branch Rickey on January 27, 2010 at 12:48 PM

orange, be careful not to sound like Obama, well I don’t have all the facts but the cops are guilty type.

immigrantchick on January 27, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Sorry for sounding like Obama. I’ll be more careful next time.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 12:53 PM

LOL, the details in the 1998 indictment of bin Laden by Clinton’s Justice Department were also “damning”, but you Leftists ignored them because they didn’t fit your agenda.
Likewise, a Clinton-appointed Federal Judge in 2003 ruled in a lawsuit that based on the evidence presented, Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Those damning details were also laughed at by your side.

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Sorry I didn’t attribute my quote. Here’s the full context of the remarks I was quoting from a renowned Leftist.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM

BTW even Soros’ site admits that Faux News did cover this story last night.

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201001260069

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Just waiting for things to unfold.

the only thing I am pretty sure about is that this O Keefe and his son-of-the-AG buddy are not that stupid

So there must be something else going on that we don’t know about.

And the 1.000.000$ question nobody asks: why did he want to tap the phone of this senator?

mooseburger on January 27, 2010 at 3:07 AM

Okay, let’s play conspiracy theory. First, everybody knows the FBI occasionally taps phones illegally. Now, along comes a fresh face from the U.S. Attorney’s office. He knows somebody who knows somebody, and everybody knows if O’Keefe can bring his phone, he’s on it like ugly on a pig. (He’s a good kid, but he does have a weakness). In the process of recovering some “equipment” the MAN gets a clue and the headlines the next day say “Four arrested in attempted telephone obstruction.”
 
Yeah, nothing to see here, move along.
btw:If I’m right, you didn’t hear it from me.

Blacksmith8 on January 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Sorry I didn’t attribute my quote. Here’s the full context of the remarks I was quoting from a renowned Leftist.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM

I must admit I was disappointed in Michelle’s take on things last night. Way, way too much jumping to conclusions on several righty blogs. There was just no evidence for it (the wiretapping charge) in the affadavit, but they jumped anyway.

Missy on January 27, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Patterico has a good theory on this

“We were stunned to learn that so many phone calls to Sen. Landrieu have been unanswered and met with continuous busy signals,” Perkins said. “We asked them to call their senators. They could get through to Sen. Vitter, but not Sen. Landrieu.”

“Our lines have been jammed for weeks, and I apologize,” Landrieu said in interview after giving a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “But no amount of jamming is going to keep me from supporting a good work for Louisiana and the nation.”

so it’s possible Okeefe was trying to see if the office phones were purposely jammed, ie off the hook which is why they first “manipulated” an office phone, probably to see if it had a dial tone, then asked to see the phone bank to see if something had been done to the line.

windansea on January 27, 2010 at 1:10 PM

…while recording the entire sequence of events on his cell phone camera…

That was a question I posed earlier. Why would he tape it? It would be evidence of a crime. He’s smart enough to understand this would be a crime I would believe. I say that the video itself is what will show exactly what these folks were trying to do and what they are guilty of in the end. I asked and will ask again, have they been charged with a specific crime yet?

Sultry Beauty on January 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

He’s smart enough to understand this would be a crime I would believe.

Look, not to demean O’Keefe, since he did a great thing with Acorn, but I don’t know. Take a look at a picture of him in his “pimp outfit”; if anyone at Acorn had any brains, they would have laughed him out of the office. The kid isn’t exactly James Bond. He maybe just got a little too big-headed and figured he could pull this off.

HeroesforGhosts on January 27, 2010 at 1:27 PM

I asked and will ask again, have they been charged with a specific crime yet?

Sultry Beauty on January 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Yes. Read the pdf.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 1:39 PM

so it’s possible Okeefe was trying to see if the office phones were purposely jammed, ie off the hook which is why they first “manipulated” an office phone, probably to see if it had a dial tone, then asked to see the phone bank to see if something had been done to the line.

windansea on January 27, 2010 at 1:10 PM

That is indeed possible. And that wouldn’t be as bad as attempting to tap the phones. But still: Is that legal? I sure hope not.

If Michael Moore disguised himself as a telephone repairman and went into the office of a Republican Senator – one on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – and messed with their phones, wouldn’t you think that that is a Bad Thing to Do? I sure would.

orange on January 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Sultry Beauty on January 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

they were probably trying to document on video what the staff in Senators office said re: phone lines being busy

there was a problem for weeks people could not reach office, lines always busy.

they were not there to tap the line, just to see if phone was off the hook or incoming line was disconnected or something. This is most likely the ‘sting’ they were attempting, and recording it to see what the office staffers said or did

They are still probably guilty of entering a federal building under false pretenses, but I doubt it will go furhter than that.

windansea on January 27, 2010 at 1:46 PM

If Michael Moore disguised himself as a telephone repairman and went into the office of a Republican Senator – one on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – and messed with their phones, wouldn’t you think that that is a Bad Thing to Do? I sure would.

If all they did was check to see if phone line in office had a dial tone, or wanted to look at phone bank to see if line connected then they did not tamper with anything. But they did enter under false pretenses.

windansea on January 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM

If Michael Moore disguised himself as a telephone repairman

orange on January 27, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Physically impossible.

Del Dolemonte on January 27, 2010 at 3:13 PM

If all they did was check to see if phone line in office had a dial tone, or wanted to look at phone bank to see if line connected then they did not tamper with anything. But they did enter under false pretenses.

windansea on January 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Does NOT matter. If they went into a FEDERAL government office in disguise and made ANY attempt to access FEDERAL communications equipment for ANY REASON AT ALL, then lock them up. Anyone who tries this sort of thing is just a hacker – motivation is irrelevant. The potential risk is huge – what if a STE line is going through there? And Federal email (especially that of a Senator) is sensitive – what if that closet had lines giving them access to Federal computers? This is access Al Qaeda would want to have.

I have served in a Federal position with authority over a wiring closet with comm lines in it. If anyone had ever attempted to access that closet, I was prepared to have him put down by an armed guard.

I have absolutely no patience with this kind of intrusion. I have admired Mr. O’Keefe and will presume him innocent. But, don’t ever attempt to justify or diminish the act described. It’s criminal and it’s downright dangerous.

Cricket624 on January 27, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Gee, Barack’s 16 year old keyboard commandos are all over this story like Tokyo Keith-O but nary a peep about Ellie Light. Go figure!

wtng2fish on January 27, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Sorry cricket, your fulminations seem misplaced, “Does NOT matter. If they went into a FEDERAL government office in disguise and made ANY attempt to access FEDERAL communications equipment for ANY REASON AT ALL, then lock them up.”

According to Breitbart:

But there is absolutely no allegation in the criminal complaint that “wiretapping” or “bugging” is any part of this case, just the charge that O’Keefe and the others entered Sen. Landrieu’s office in New Orleans “for the purpose of interfering with the office’s telephone system.”

So right now we have 4 kids dressing up as phone repair people to gain access to the office to see if they could catch someone in an unguarded moment. A staffer said that one of them “manipulated a phone” — what, did he pick up the handset and pretend to work on it so their transparent cover wouldn’t be blown??

Looks like they just want to put the Scooby Gang in jail, and we have all too many eager judges like cricket ready to lend a hand. We don’t know what happened, hmm? Let the facts come out. And I’d LOVE to see this much outrage directed at folks like Michale Moore and others who have made a stock-in-trade practice of gaining unlawful entry or misleading people about their intentions in order to get information. They’ve made MILLIONS and the Scooby Gang may go to jail?

Wait for the facts, folks…

EasyEight on January 27, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Here’s Breitbart on with Hugh Hewitt — describes how the WHITE HOUSE has been gunning for this kid since the ACORN tapes:

http://hughhewitt.com/blog/print.aspx?guid=3c0f68ec-ee51-42ae-b9ce-a170d352c202

EasyEight on January 27, 2010 at 6:58 PM

Cricket624 on January 27, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Spot on!

Bradky on January 27, 2010 at 9:09 PM

Spot on!

Yes, hang the little bastard! What did he do? Not a clue! The people who are alleging foul deeds? Yeah, they hate him –they’ve been burning with revenge after their ACORN allies got hammered by this kid for exposing their criminal ways, and a White House-tied hit team has been dogging him for months. Whattevah! Lets get all outraged and frothy and beat our chests in shame and anger. Pathetic. Are we beset by trolls or have conservatives shown themselves to be spineless gits?? At least wait until you have some information in hand before starting the self flagellation cycle!!

EasyEight on January 28, 2010 at 1:18 AM

We, the people, as citizens of the United States of America, DO need watchdogs to peer into the shenanigans of the likes of Mary Landrieu.

The problem here is that the people got caught.

Now Landrieu and others can continue to hide behind the “law” while trashing the Constitution, taking bribes for their vote, and betraying the public trust.

Honest citizens betrayed by government officials like Mary Landrieu – Zero (0)

Dishonest, shake down artists receiving payoffs, bribes, and incentives to betray the people and support the violation of the Constitution of the United States of America by supporting unconstitutional programs and bills, such as the “Health Care Bill” – One (1)

Inept journalists who screw up while investigating big government shysters like Mary Landrieu – Zero (0) plus possible fine and/or incarceration.

William2006 on January 28, 2010 at 7:33 AM

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