O’Keefe claims vindication

posted at 12:15 pm on January 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The investigative journalist who hammered ACORN but got arrested in a district office for a Democrat Senator claimed vindication at Big Hollywood today.  James O’Keefe says that the government has “confirmed” that he and his partners in his latest operation did not intend to tap or sabotage the telephone system, but doesn’t provide a link to anything suggesting that law enforcement has dropped its inquiry:

The government has now confirmed what has always been clear:  No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu’s office.  Nor did we try to cut or shut down her phone lines.  Reports to this effect over the past 48 hours are inaccurate and false. …

I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill.  When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.”  I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken.  In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.

There has been considerable overreach by some media outlets, to be sure.  Some elements of the story have come directly from the report filed by the FBI,- detailing what the witnesses told them about the operation.  That information remains to be tested in court, but the description therein doesn’t quite square with O’Keefe’s explanation.  They wouldn’t have needed to get access to the telephone closet in order to observe people answering the phone, and attempting to access it under false pretenses (representing themselves as telephone-company technicians) strongly implies that they wanted access for other reasons.

If the FBI affadavit or the witness testimony is inaccurate, then that will come out in court.  However, I doubt that the FBI got the description of their clothing wrong, and dressing up as telephone repairmen wouldn’t have been necessary at all to get undercover video of people answering the phone, or not answering it, as the case may be.  If all O’Keefe and his people wanted was an admission that the phone system was working, then the disguise may have helped, but it still wouldn’t have been necessary to gain access to the phone closet.

O’Keefe seems to recognize that now:

On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building.  The sole intent of our investigation was to determine whether or not Senator Landrieu was purposely trying to avoid constituents who were calling to register their views to her as their Senator.  We video taped the entire visit, the government has those tapes, and I’m eager for them to be released because they refute the false claims being repeated by much of the mainstream media.

Even accepting O’Keefe’s explanation, his team still appears to have broken the law by gaining admission to a federal office under false pretenses and attempting to access the phone system, possibly with “willful and malicious” intent to interfere with it.  Be sure to read Allahpundit’s analysis of the law and how it applies to this situation.  If a judge winds up with this case, he will certainly take intent and purpose under consideration but it doesn’t change the fact that O’Keefe should have done his homework and reconsidered this very bad idea before engaging in it.  And what for?  To get on people on tape answering the phones?  That’s not exactly a journalistic scoop.

I’d guess that the four will wind up pleading to a lesser charge and get unsupervised probation, at worst. Depending on how hot the local US Attorney is to pursue this case, it may wind up going nowhere.

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http://www.slate.com/id/2099203/

Esthier on January 29, 2010 at 4:06 PM
That was interesting as heck. Thanks for posting that link.

RushBaby on January 29, 2010 at 4:18 PM

My thanks, too. I had no idea that they had bombs.

Jimbo3 on January 29, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Let me just clear up a few points of law for you.

(1) Entering a federal building under false pretenses is a crime in and of itself, albeit a misdemeanor. Entering a federal building under false pretenses with the intent to commit a felony simply enhances the entrance itself to a felony; thus if it holds he would be charged with 2 felonies: the entrance and the felony he committed while inside. Just like breaking and entering is a crime in and of itself, while breaking and entering into a dwelling place with the intent to commit a felony enhances the entrance itself to a felony (burglary).

(2) Even if O’Keefe was never dressed up, or never entered the building, or never made a false claim if he is convicted of aiding and abetting the others he will convicted of the same crimes they are. If you are an accessory to murder you’re not convicted of being an accessory to murder, you are convicted of murder. It you aide and abet there is no legal distinction between you and those who actually carried out the crime.

(3) While O’Keefe certainly had the right to not be questioned without counsel, he also had the right to waive the right. Unless the FBI coerced him or failed to properly follow arrest and interrogation procedures, once he started speaking to them he effectively waived his right to remain silent. Anything he said is an admission and admissible into evidence against him.

JaHerer22 on January 29, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Sorry, but you are taking liberties with actual law, when adding your “commentary”

“False pretenses” when entering a federal building – well based on the affidavit – he never made false claims to enter the building – was already in there when the other 2 showed up with telephone uniforms on. Big differnce to the law and his defense lawyers.

Yeah – murder statuates are just like entering a federal building… there is a reason why “high crimes” are seperated.

What he said and when he said it to the FBI agents are key to any defense lawyer. That is the first line of attack, considering he made statements to the FBI agents. Guaranteed to be “thrown out?” – No. But any attorney will start here first. Defense Law 101.

I appreciate your attempt to “clear up the law” for me. It really helps when you show actual statuates and laws, or judicial precedence, not an opinion.

Odie1941 on January 29, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Retracto demands retractions.

http://bigjournalism.com/author/retracto/

zmdavid on January 29, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Good4Onan on January 29, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Who left the gate open???????????

CWforFreedom on January 29, 2010 at 6:08 PM

No link attached, yet no show of comment.

In a nutshell, Steven Reyes, FBI Affiant, is at fault. He observed Flanagan and Basal’s entry, requesting to man the phones. And neither Reyes nor the Receptionist Witness 1 asked to see any credentials. THAT was a huge breech in security protocol. And they are mad as hell that O’Keefe caught them with their pants down; and the FBI is detaining the recording, all of which lends credence to O’Keefe’s statement.

maverick muse on January 29, 2010 at 3:15 PM

One thing O’Keefe needs to clear up, which he hasn’t is the question of why they wanted access to the telephone cabinet.

No one seems to be pressing for an answer.

AprilOrit on January 29, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Here’s what stands out for me:

When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.” I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken.

In my neck of the woods, “jammed” lines means that so many people are calling that the line is busy. It doesn’t mean broken. So, sorry, not buying it.

Or am I misunderstanding?

I like this kid a lot and am so disappointed by the way he chose to do this. We do all screw up…just hope this doesn’t turn out really ugly for him.

WaltzingMtilda on January 29, 2010 at 6:25 PM

The “kid’s” an idiot who thinks his sh*t doesn’t stink. Conservatives should deep 6 this clown lickity split.

dakine on January 29, 2010 at 6:38 PM

O’Keefe must learn quick that a conservative can not even come close to breaking the law to prove a point.That is the exclusive right of the Liberals and the far left.They and only they are granted that right.

thmcbb on January 29, 2010 at 6:42 PM

wear is the whore?

Denniscat on January 29, 2010 at 6:52 PM

“False pretenses” when entering a federal building – well based on the affidavit – he never made false claims to enter the building – was already in there when the other 2 showed up with telephone uniforms on. Big differnce to the law and his defense lawyers.

False pretenses isn’t my phrase–it’s the wording of the statute. I’m not claiming he entered the building under false pretenses–I believe in innocent until proven guilty–but a Federal Magistrate ok’d the affidavit so it’s safe to presume there is at least probable cause to believe he entered the building under false pretenses.

And read what I wrote about aiding and abetting. Even if he never made false claims to enter the building–even if he never entered the building–if he aided and abetted anyone who did he will be charged with and tried for the substantive offense.

This is where the analogy to murder comes in–I’m not trying to compare this offense to murder–simply using it as an example. If you believe there are different laws governing aiding and abetting depending on the severity of the crime you are simply wrong–an accomplice is always charged with the substantive offense he aided (per the exception discussed earlier).

And high crime is just an antiqued phrase for felony–there is no higher level of offenses.

JaHerer22 on January 29, 2010 at 6:57 PM

Since O’Keefe posted his $10,000 bail and was quickly on his way this must be high treason!!! Osama’s new rival! Pffft.

Wow, what a laugh when the Lefty whores who post such wishful thinking that O’Keefe was such an immense danger when visiting a public office, videotaping their entire visit and addressing a known problem for Landrieu’s constituents’ inability to reach her office by phone. You’d think he was Sandy Burglar or something!

If someone tries to use murder as an example without using it as an example they may as well use unicorns as an example instead.
Mary “Louisiana Purchase” Landrieu is certainly wanting all this exposure of her shadiness to go away and quickly. She’s probably yelling at Daddy-Moon to make her backfiring sellout diversion go away as quickly as Daddy-Moon (shady ex-mayor and shady ex-judge) probably helped create it. On a conveniently working unlisted telephone, of course.

viking01 on January 29, 2010 at 7:20 PM

JaHerer22 on January 29, 2010 at 6:57 PM

fwiw…two thumbs up !!

jerrytbg on January 29, 2010 at 8:01 PM

Sorry, but you are taking liberties with actual law, when adding your “commentary”

“False pretenses” when entering a federal building – well based on the affidavit – he never made false claims to enter the building – was already in there when the other 2 showed up with telephone uniforms on. Big differnce to the law and his defense lawyers.

Yeah – murder statuates are just like entering a federal building… there is a reason why “high crimes” are seperated.

What he said and when he said it to the FBI agents are key to any defense lawyer. That is the first line of attack, considering he made statements to the FBI agents. Guaranteed to be “thrown out?” – No. But any attorney will start here first. Defense Law 101.

I appreciate your attempt to “clear up the law” for me. It really helps when you show actual statuates and laws, or judicial precedence, not an opinion.

Odie1941 on January 29, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Please tell me you’re not a lawyer.

crr6 on January 29, 2010 at 8:10 PM

I think Landrieu was an entity in one of the original Star Trek episodes. Peace in Landrieu! Are you of the body? McCoy (Bones) gets brainwashed in this episode.

I guess this can be connected to the dem Landrieu who is of the body of Dems and therefore wants to control you, too.

O`Keefe is kinda like Captain Kirk battling Landrieu.

I certainly hope O`Keefe is not charged (did not violate the law), but if he did then the legal system will have to go to work on him.

But who is going to work on ACORN? I mean . . . . We are talking about a corrupt organization here, not a few people who pulled a potentially illegal stunt.

Watergate, my arse.

Like I said. Just tell the truth, people!

I am gonna start making up my own double speak if they don`t let up!

Today I will call all apples oranges and all oranges apples and if I say it enough, it will become true?

I will be considered delusional more like.

I am delusional already, it seems, because I know global warming to be a hoax. That makes me a global warming skeptic and thus I am delusional? Yep.

My comment here rambled, but nothing like that of Obummer`s address.

Damn, I wish he had a different address!

Sherman1864 on January 29, 2010 at 8:12 PM

One thing O’Keefe needs to clear up, which he hasn’t is the question of why they wanted access to the telephone cabinet.

Sometimes it’s difficult to discern the difference between ill intent and extreme stupidity. This guy suffers from at least one of the above. What a clown.

bayam on January 29, 2010 at 8:18 PM

The more Landrieu’s apologists keep trying to steer the conversation away from her constituents obvious problems being able to telephone her office the more she will look like Big Bertha at ACORN trying to say that what O’Keefe has found in her organization was merely an isolated problem.

The only one who probably wants this all to go away faster than Mary Landrieu is her equally shifty brother Mitch who wants to be the next emperor of School Bus Nagin’s Chocolate City. The Landrieus are a lot like the Jeffersons (Cold-Cash not George and Weezie) who figured out the way to keep the law at bay was to be within it such as Moon-Daddy’s local judgeship during most of the Clintoon years. Maybe not as shiftless or obvious as the Leander Perez family, Huey Long or Fast Eddie Edwards’ racket but sufficient for exploiting their particular part of the kingdom.

viking01 on January 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM

From his description on Big Government, it sounds like O’Keefe wanted to find out whether the phone system was actually broken or not. After all, “the phone system is broken” was Landrieu’s explanation for why people could not get through.

I guess the kid’s getting an education in how far is too far.

philwynk on January 29, 2010 at 10:37 PM

his pretence when entering the building was very clear: to make a video and showing that the phone system was working just fine.

That two people dressed up with telephone repair gear only shows that the intend at worst was to repair, not to destroy.

if there was ill intend, why would he video the whole operation. That in itself is proof of the journalistic intend and not the intend to wiretap and do things “Secretly”

his openess is the weak point for the prosecution in this case: He had no intend to commit a felony. his only intend was to record a felony and lie from the senator.

that is a different story.

mooseburger on January 30, 2010 at 1:02 AM

HondaV65 on January 29, 2010 at 4:22 PM

I too have a strong feeling that something’s missing in this story. You may be onto it with Flanagan.

Last night the folks on FNC were saying the left will use the incident to go after Breitbart, if they can. Hopefully they’ll get on his nerves, as the prospect of an angry AB fascinates me.

On the other hand, after the circus they made of Wildon-Plame, it’s worrisome still.

petefrt on January 30, 2010 at 7:31 AM

One thing O’Keefe needs to clear up, which he hasn’t is the question of why they wanted access to the telephone cabinet.

No one seems to be pressing for an answer.

AprilOrit on January 29, 2010 at 6:11 PM

It was Flanagan and Basal who wanted access to the telephones. Hence, it is NOT O’Keefe who needs to clear that up. He was there as an investigative journalist, and carried his cell phone with him just as we all do everyday. In O’Keefe’s statement, he clarified his position.

Where are Flanagan’s and Basal’s statements? Where is Witness 1, the receptionist who failed her responsibility to ask for identification and to see the appropriate repair work-sheet authorizing what Flanagan and Basal said they were there to do?

We have the FBI Reyes’ Affidavit written to excuse himself of any “guilt” (failed to provide the senator’s office with security) by casting aspersions at O’Keefe.

maverick muse on January 30, 2010 at 8:24 AM

The more Landrieu’s apologists keep trying to steer the conversation away from her constituents obvious problems being able to telephone her office the more she will look like Big Bertha at ACORN trying to say that what O’Keefe has found in her organization was merely an isolated problem.

The only one who probably wants this all to go away faster than Mary Landrieu is her equally shifty brother Mitch who wants to be the next emperor of School Bus Nagin’s Chocolate City. The Landrieus are a lot like the Jeffersons (Cold-Cash not George and Weezie) who figured out the way to keep the law at bay was to be within it such as Moon-Daddy’s local judgeship during most of the Clintoon years. Maybe not as shiftless or obvious as the Leander Perez family, Huey Long or Fast Eddie Edwards’ racket but sufficient for exploiting their particular part of the kingdom.

viking01 on January 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM

That’s it precisely!

Conservatives must not permit the media to use O’Keefe as their prime target distraction to keep the public focus off specific LA corrupt politicians, the deaf Landrieu Klan who would cut their own phone lines rather than take calls from constituents.

O’Keefe is innocent until proven guilty. His bane is having taken the bait to investigate how Landrieu’s office functions, being a witness of all that included an FBI employee twiddling his thumbs when he should have confronted Flanagan and Basal who had no documentation for work ordered, let alone proper employment for representing the telephone company.

/BTW, which phone company does our government use? AT&T? No wonder the lack of communication. Before you know it, Obama will buy AT&T with the tax fund of insolvent government debt. If it’s broken, he’ll buy it with our insurmountably indebted tax load.

maverick muse on January 30, 2010 at 8:39 AM

zmdavid on January 29, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Ha, I remember that episode.

maverick muse on January 30, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Hey, it is the new Geraldo Rivera!

percysunshine on January 30, 2010 at 9:25 AM

And in local Louisiana news, Vitter (as the “Junior Senator of Who Dat Nation”) slams the NFL for going after small business owners for attempting to sue them for using “Who Dat” and the Fleur dis lis. Both of which preceded any use or affiliation with the Saints or the NFL.
http://www.thedeadpelican.com/2010/vitterNFL.htm

They immediately backed down.
http://images.bimedia.net/documents/nflwhodat.pdf

Landrieu is noticeably absent from the discussion. Likely she is on anti-anxiety meds sweating it out over whether or not O’Keefe et al (the Quartet) has any footage on her phone scam at her other 3 offices.

FYI, “Chicken” Charley Melancon doesn’t stand a chance this fall against Vitter after this.

Kermit on January 30, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Tapping a Democrat’s office in Louisiana is dangerous, you might trip over the sacks of cash stacked everywhere.

If stupid were a currency, Mary Landrieu would be among the richest people in the world (although Barbara Boxer would be richer).

NoDonkey on January 30, 2010 at 11:10 AM

From his description on Big Government, it sounds like O’Keefe wanted to find out whether the phone system was actually broken or not. After all, “the phone system is broken” was Landrieu’s explanation for why people could not get through.

philwynk on January 29, 2010 at 10:37 PM

Let’s take this a bit further….

I submit that they wanted access to the phone closet to merely videotape it….I know what you’re thinking, did any of these guys have a clue what a working system would look like? Irrelevant, what they were going to do was release that tape to the internet, and experts from all over the world would have been looking at it to determine if it was, based on whatever could be seen. You know, the little flashy light thingies.

I would also not be surprised if they had other confederates who would know when to call the good senators office, while the video was being made, just to see how the call(s) were handled.

If this was in fact his plan (it would have been mine), the question then becomes this….is it illegal to videotape the external operation (back to those flashy light thingies) of the senators phone system? You’d be amazed how much accurate analysis can be done from such a video.

runawayyyy on January 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM

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