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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

O’Keefe Gate!?

Monday in New Orleans, James O’Keefe, filmmaker and mastermind of the ACORN sting operations, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly wire tapping Senator Mary Landrieu’s office.

According to an FBI affidavit, Robert Flanagan, son of William Flanagan who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, and Joseph Basel entered Landrieu’s office Monday morning dressed as telephone company employees and met O’Keefe, who was already in the office, and told a staffer they were there to repair the telephones. The staffer gave them access to the phone where they manipulated the handset before telling the staffer they needed to see the main telephone system and asked the staffer to direct them to the main telephone closet. The staffer directed them to the 10th floor of the General Services Administrations office where a GSA employee asked the men for their credentials and grew suspicious when they couldn’t produce them. The GSA employee reported the incident and the men were apprehended by the U.S. Marshalls Service. The FBI report states that the staffer observed O’Keefe with his cell phone apparently videotaping the operation and O’Keefe did admit to the authorities that he had recorded the event.

The men were brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore who released them on $10,000 bond each and told them they had to attend a pre-trial service. The men have also obtained lawyers which was an EXCELLENT idea considering this could be a felony according to US Code Title 18 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.


When I heard this story, my first thought was: “Does this kid think he’s untouchable now?” I gave him credit for going under cover and obtaining information on how some ACORN offices were operating under false pretenses with OUR tax dollars. Especially since there are approximately 14 ACORN offices currently being investigated for voter registration fraud in the United States. However, that does NOT excuse O’Keefe for breaking the law and possibly committing a felony.

I’m sure, though, that he’ll come up with some excuse such as “I just wanted to prove how easy it is to wire-tape a Federal office” or something else to justify his actions. I don’t like to jump to conclusions because I don’t have all the facts. But he DID admit to videotaping the incident and his “friends” were pretending to be telephone repairmen. Will his “reason” be enough? And how will this “action” affect what he’s achieved as a filmmaker and journalist on the ACORN front? Has this stunt ruined his reputation? He's a 25 year old filmmaker who had an extremely bright future…and now…well, now he could be looking at 10 years.


  1. Hi Pam
    There were charges of voter registration fraud made against them, not voter fraud.Like a worker putting down fake names,like the Dallas Cowboys line or Mickey Mouse.They were red-flagged by ACORN and turned in to the registrar,per law.

    I think the kid's moment of fame went to his head and he overreached.

  2. My understanding is it would be more like 20 years if he is convicted of all the charges.
    The motivating factor, is what the police will try to determine. Was it just another documentary video (news reports say their hard hats had cameras)? What information were they seeking with the wire tap equiptment?
    This Attorney General (father of one of the crooks) owes his position to Sen. Vitter.
    Follow the money and political connections. Basic lessons in investigative reporting. Woodward and Bernstein 101.
    The dozens of Republican House members who signed a proclamation praising this young man for his ACORN video, should also sign a proclamation condemning his now, criminal, felony behavior.
    History tells us that people will do anything (including breaking the law) to gain political favor. That was the intention of his ACORN video.
    This incident appears to be no more than one of his misguided ideas (criminal idea) but I would not be surprised to learn there was more to it, or more people (higher in Republican politics) involved.

  3. Pam
    I am so impressed by your wllingness to view both sides and make independent decisions.Thank you for running such an open forum.

  4. Oso: What did you think I would do, if you don't mind me asking?

  5. Hi Pam,
    I expected you would acknowledge my point.I didn't realize you would take it a little further and edit the text to keep it accurate. Most bloggers might have acknowledged it only.May be a matter of pride in your blog.

  6. Oso: I research to try and be as "accurate" as possible but I'm not perfect therefore when a mistake is "found" I want it "fixed". And yes, there is pride involved also.

    Thanks for your compliment by the way!

  7. Tom: I just heard today that O’Keefe and the others were trying to “prove” that Landrieu’s office was avoiding telephone calls. Supposedly her constituents have been trying to call her since the “Louisiana Purchase” and her office hasn’t been answering the phone. So, O’Keefe may not be charged with “illegal wire-tapping” but some lesser charge. Nevertheless, this will be a blemish on his reputation.

    History tells us that people will do anything (including breaking the law) to gain political favor.

    History tells us that SOME will do anything.

  8. O’Keefe may not be charged with “illegal wire-tapping” but some lesser charge.

    It's my understanding that any attempt to tamper with the senator's phone system amounts to the same federal charge as wiretapping, under the same law. (Tampering may sound less malicious--and maybe it is, even--but my understanding is, they potentially broke the same law, either way.)

    I don't expect they'll serve time (or much time, anyway) if they plead or are found guilty, but that doesn't mean that the law they broke isn't a serious one. Those who're starting to dismiss it all as a "youthful prank" don't seem to have much respect for the rule of law.

  9. Respac: I'm certainly not dismissing this as a "youthful" prank. He's 25 yrs old and KNOWS better!

  10. The more we find out, the less serious the incident seems to have been, but it is still a felony charge.

    The more we find out, the more we now know how many Republican political connections all the crooks have.

    This morning the news is reporting that the judge put a gag order on all parties, but O'Keefe has been blogging and tweeting about it.

    This guy is stupid. The last thing he wants is a pissed off judge.

    A journalist doesn't break the law while investigating a story. It should be more than a blemish on his record, he should be looking for a new career, as people disregard him as a serious journalist, and stop promoting his illegal antics.

  11. Tom said: The more we find out, the more we now know how many Republican political connections all the crooks have.

    Tom: I believe I’ve made my stance on “generalizations” known. Political parties don’t commit crimes, HUMANS do. Humans can be dishonest; humans can be greedy; humans can lie, cheat and steal. It just so happens that humans vote and some are Republicans and some are also Democrats. Personally I could care less about the political party. Just follow the dog-gone law already.

    I’m in total agreement with you that O’Keefe is foolish if he’s tweeting and blogging about this incident since the Judge issued a gag-order. I also agree that a good journalist doesn’t need to break the law to get information. This kid did something illegal and anyone who rationalizes his actions is remiss in their morals.

  12. "The more we find out, the less serious the incident seems to have been, but it is still a felony charge.

    The more we find out, the more we now know how many Republican political connections all the crooks have."

    The first paragraph is no different than the second paragraph. They are facts based on news reports.

    I made no accusation that the Republican party was behind these crooks, knew what they were doing, or involved in any way. In fact I don't believe that at all.

    Motivating factors are relevant. It is only good police work, to find out IF there was something more to their plan, than just their own personal motivation.

    I do find that the over two dozen sitting Republican legislators who signed a proclamation praising O'Keefe before (and couldn't wait to get in front of the cameras to say so) are now nowhere to be found and unwilling to condemn his criminal actions. That is simple hypocrisy.

    This kind of stuff won't stop if people don't speak out against it. By people, yes, I mean the same Republicans who praised him, should now be condemning him.

  13. Pam: I don't want to speak for Tom, but I think he was trying to say that all four of these alleged phone tamperers (teabuggers) had pretty extensive ties to Republican organizations and politicians, and not that all republicans are crooks, or all crooks are Republicans, or any generalization like that.

    I do think that these young men were trying to follow in the footsteps of Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Donald Segretti, and others (many from the Nixon years) who flouted the law and engaged in dirty tricks in the name of influencing the political outcome they wanted. (They were pretty bad at it, but these were likely their influences, nevertheless...)

  14. Tom: I'm sorry I misread and thought it was YOU stating that paragraph. Although I still stand by my statement that it's not ALL but SOME and it's still PEOPLE NOT parties that commit crimes.

    I agree that those who suppoted him should "speak out" about how they feel NOW. I listened to Hannity the other day just to see if he'd say anything. Nope. Nadda. I wasn't surprised. I think he should say something. Does Hannity agree with O'Keefe? I sure as heck don't and I'm not afraid to say it. He broke the law for crying out loud! How can anyone think he's right?

    Respac: Well if O'Keefe & others were trying to "follow in the footsteps" of those guys, they are more stupid than I first thought. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this plays out. It will not be dull, that's for sure.

  15. I can't remember the exact wording, but another charge has something to do with being on (breaking and entering?) federal property without authorization. That's a biggie.

    I have to say that the first thing that came to my mind was Watergate.

  16. tnlib said: I have to say that the first thing that came to my mind was Watergate.

    Leslie: That's why I titled this post "O'Keefe Gate"! :)

    I beleive it's the "federal property" that could get him 10 years!

  17. I don't agree with fraudulent representation to gain entry to something. Only the police should be allowed to do so, and this only in carefully monitored and controlled circumstances (under cover).

    The rest should be treated as criminals.

    Pamela: It looked like Repsac gave a laundry list of "rogues" like Atwater and Rove without saying that they actually did anything wrong. Well, the main thing they did wrong was successfully run "tell it like it is" campaigns and defeat the Dems in elections.

  18. Dmarks: Both parties have rogues; however it seems the only “illegal” rogues are on the right side according to the left side, eh?

  19. I would think that anyone who cares enough about politics to regularly comment on political blogs would already be familiar enough with documented (let alone the alleged, but never proven) actions of the three men on my "laundry list" that listing the behaviors they engaged in would've been unnecessary, but seeing as how that's not the case:

    Donald Henry Segretti (born September 17, 1941, in San Marino, California) was a political operative for the Committee to Re-elect the President (Nixon) during the early 1970s. Segretti was hired by friend Dwight L. Chapin to run a campaign of dirty tricks (which he dubbed "ratfucking") against the Democrats, with his work being paid for by Herb Kalmbach, Nixon's lawyer, from presidential campaign re-election funds gathered before an April 7, 1972, law required that contributors be identified. His actions were part of the larger Watergate scandal, and were important indicators for the few members of the press actively investigating the Watergate break in in the earliest stages that what became known as the Watergate scandal involved far more than just a simple break in. Segretti's forged authorship of the "Canuck letter" typifies the tactics Segretti and others working with him used, forging a letter ascribed to Senator Edmund Muskie which maligned the people, language and culture of French Canada and French Canadians, causing the soon to be Democratic presidential candidate Muskie considerable headaches in denying the letter and having to continue dealing with the issue. Many historians have indicated over the years that Muskie's withdrawal from the Presidential primaries, and the disastrous Iowa primary loss to George McGovern that precipitated it, were at least partly the result of Segretti and some of the other "Ratfuckers" creating so much confusion and false accusations that Muskie simply could not respond in any meaningful way.
    In 1974, Segretti pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of distributing illegal (in fact, forged) campaign literature and was sentenced to six months in prison, actually serving four months. One notable example of his wrong-doing was a faked letter on Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie's letterhead falsely alleging that U.S. Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a fellow Democrat, had had an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old; the Muskie letters accused Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of sexual misconduct as well.[1] After testimony regarding the Muskie letters emerged, Democrats in Florida noted the similarity between these sabotage incidents and others that involved stationery stolen from Humphrey's offices after Muskie dropped out of the race. A false news release on Humphrey's letterhead "accused Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.) of being mentally unbalanced" and a mailing with an unidentified source mischaracterized Humphrey as supporting a controversial environmental measure that he actually opposed."


  20. (...cont'd)

    Lee Atwater:
    Lee Atwater - Wikipedia:

    "Atwater's aggressive tactics were first demonstrated during the 1980 congressional campaigns. He was a campaign consultant to Republican incumbent Floyd Spence in his campaign for Congress against Democratic nominee Tom Turnipseed. Atwater's tactics in that campaign included push polling in the form of fake surveys by 'independent pollsters' to inform white suburbanites that Turnipseed was a member of the NAACP. He also sent out last-minute letters from Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) telling voters that Turnipseed would disarm America and turn it over to liberals and Communists. At a press briefing, Atwater planted a 'reporter' who rose and said, 'We understand Turnipseed has had psychotic treatment.' Atwater later told the reporters off the record that Turnipseed 'got hooked up to jumper cables' - a reference to electroconvulsive therapy that Turnipseed underwent as a teenager.[6]" Atwater was also responsible for Reagan's Southern Strategy, which he discussed thusly:

    "You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger." [LINK]

    and the Willie Horton ad against Dukakis:

    "Atwater declared that he would "strip the bark off the little bastard" and "make Willie Horton his running mate." [Link]


  21. Karl Rove:

    In 1970, College Republican Rove stole letterhead from the Illinois Democratic campaign of Alan Dixon, and used it to invite hundreds of people to Dixon's new headquarters opening, promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing," disrupting the event.

    In 1973, Rove ran for chairman of the College Republicans. He challenged the front-runner's delegates, throwing the national convention into disarray, after which both he and his opponent, Robert Edgeworth, claimed victory. The dispute was resolved when Rove was selected through the direct order of the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who at the time was none other than George H.W. Bush.

    In 1986, while working for Texas Republican gubernatorial hopeful William Clements, Rove claimed that his personal office had been bugged, most likely by the campaign of incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark White. Nothing was proved, but the negative press, weeks before the election, helped Rove's man win a narrow victory. FBI agent Greg Rampton removed the bug, disrupting any attempt to properly investigate who planted it.

    When Rove advised on George W. Bush's 1994 race for governor of Texas against Democratic incumbent Ann Richards, a persistent whisper campaign in conservative East Texas wrongly suggested that Richards was a lesbian. According to Texas journalist Lou Dubose: "No one ever traced the character assassination to Rove. Yet no one doubts that Rove was behind it. It's a process on which he holds a patent. Identify your opponent's strength, and attack it so relentlessly that it becomes a liability. Richards was admired because she promised and delivered a 'government that looked more like the people of the state.' That included the appointment of blacks, Hispanics and gays and lesbians. Rove made that asset a liability."

    After John McCain thumped George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary, with 48 percent of the vote to Bush's 30 percent, a massive smear campaign was launched in South Carolina, a key battleground. TV attack ads from third groups and anonymous fliers circulated, variously suggesting that McCain's experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam left him mentally scarred with an uncontrollable temper, that his wife, Cindy, abused drugs and that he had an African-American "love child." In fact, the McCains adopted their daughter Bridget from a Bangladesh orphanage run by Mother Teresa.
    - Rove's dirty tricks: Let us count the ways (Admittedly, the majority of these are allegations because, unlike the other two, neither the law or Karl Rove's conscience have gotten the better of him. Perhaps one day, one or the other will.)

    Sure, these three "rouges" did play their parts in successful campaigns against their Democratic enemies, but since when do the ends justify the means?

    Pam: It is true that most on the left are more likely to point out the illegal or immoral acts of those on the right, but are you suggesting that the same is not true of many (most?) on the right, and the folks whose acts they are more likely to discuss?

    I wonder what dmarks has to say about Pam's obvious innuendo, and the absence of not only acts alleged to've been perpetrated by folks on the left, but of the names of folks alleged to have perpetrated them, as well...

  22. G. Gordon Liddy, another GOP
    'operative'. It appears O'keefe has heroes to look up to..


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