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ACORN-buster/film-maker James O'Keefe arrested

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that film-maker James O'Keefe and three others were arrested earlier today after entering the office of Senator Mary Landrieu under false pretenses and possibly attempting to install wiretapping equipment.

O'Keefe recently gained quite a bit of notoriety after releasing videotapes that showed ACORN officials in various offices around the nation giving him and his partner (posing as a pimp and prostitute) advice on how to evade taxes and set up secret brothels that featured underage girls in poor neighborhoods.

According to the Times-Picayune, here is what happened today:

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All four men were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

... An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., 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 affidavit, 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 Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men's credentials. They said they left them in their vehicle.

The U.S. Marshal's Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.

Michelle Malkin has more details as well.

Was this a staged stunt, perhaps connected to a new, elaborate scam that O'Keefe & Co. are in the process of pulling off? Or did O'Keefe take a few extra stupid pills this morning and attempt to do something incredibly dumb? Arraignment is tomorrow morning; we should be able to find out more then.


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Comments (23)

"..possibly attempting to i... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"..possibly attempting to install wiretapping equipment."

Possibly.
More likely a stunt.
We'll see.

What goofy thing to do... (Below threshold)
Wada Edjit:

What goofy thing to do

I'm trying to imagine what ... (Below threshold)
Food:

I'm trying to imagine what kind of stunt is worth getting caught committing a felony in the middle of, and I'm coming up with nothing. So my guess right now is that he tried to do something ROYALLY inadvisable and got caught. I hope to God I'm wrong, but right now it's lookin' like he let his notoriety go to his head, he got careless, and now he's pissed it all away.

O'Keefe is going to prison.... (Below threshold)
bad times:

O'Keefe is going to prison. This is serious as a heart attack - you don't wiretap a United States Senator who sits on the Homeland Security Committee. And he did it on Federal property. Big mistake. Breitbart had better hope his fingerprints aren't on this in any way...

Bad bad bad times. Bad times.

Congress defends their own and they will eat these kids alive. And O'Keefe filmed filmed the whole thing on his cell phone too. Totally busted.

Maybe they thought it was t... (Below threshold)
914:

Maybe they thought it was the White House?

Now if this would only happ... (Below threshold)
Flu-Bird:

Now if this would only happen with MICHEAL MOORE and OLIVER STONE

Oh boy, this is gonna be ug... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Oh boy, this is gonna be ugly.

I also think this guy knows... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I also think this guy knows how to manipulate the media so he can expose a problem. Couple that with the US Attorney's son, who probably has some access to information, this may turn out to be fun. If he is stupid enough to install a listening device, he needs to go bye bye. But having a listening device in a car a few blocks away is not intent. ww

While the MO sounds like th... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

While the MO sounds like they were trying to tap the phones, there have been no statements made by the police as to whether they had any "bugging" equipment on them. One report said they had a "listening device" with someone in a car nearby , but it might have been one of them was "simply" wearing a wire. A post on NRO states that no phone tapping equipment was found when they were busted. It looks like they may have "just" been taking more undercover video and audio.

Either way, the whole thing is dumb as Hell. Ann Althouse nailed it when posting that it's one thing to try and BS your way into an ACORN office, but quite another to do so at a US Senator's office. As Sheriff Buford T Justice used to say "Boy, you're in a heap of trouble!"

So far all I've seen is Dir... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

So far all I've seen is Dirty Landrieu's office spin about 'bugging the office' and uncited articles mentioning 'listening devices'.
Does that mean cell phones?
I think he was actually charged with "interfering" with the phones, whatever that means. Released on $10000 bond? Is that low or normal for something like this?
I'm invoking the 48 hr rule. Nothing here is adding up.

If they really were doing something like "bugging the office", throw the book at them. But it looks doubtful that is what they were attempting.

I have to agree that this d... (Below threshold)
Matt:

I have to agree that this doesn't add up. There is something more here than meets the eye. Up to this time the young man had been pretty careful and clever in his actions.

The odd thing is, it doesn't take much technology to tap the phone lines without having to breach the office or install on individual phone lines.

I didn't know it was a federal offense to possess a receiver and recording device in a motor vehicle on a public street.

I'd predict they plead guilty to all charges, get community service, banned from federal facilities and given a cease and desist on their recording activities.

I'm not a lawyer, and I don... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but even I could get them off on what are essentially BULLSHIT charges. Am curious as to what they were doing in THAT PARTICULAR OFFICE. Charging a "conspiracy" (2 or more persons acting in concert to commit a crime) is a felony. So they're charged with a conspiracy to commit another felony (wire tapping), but they had NO wire tapping equipment with them. Might as well have charged them with conspiracy to blow up the building - seeing as they also DID NOT have any explosives with them. Going to be interesting to find out what they were up to. Interesting also that someone was "listening several blocks away". Listening to what?

GarandFan, AllahPundit has ... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

GarandFan, AllahPundit has noted that there are two federal laws in play here. The first makes it a crime to enter a federal facility under false pretenses... Check. The four have already copped to that with the feds. The 2nd has to do with monkeying with Federal communications equipment. The law is very broad and doesn't just cover wire tapping and/or destruction of equipment. Merely unplugging a cable, or trying to do so, will trip you up for up to 10 years in Club Fed.

Obviously, they should have... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Obviously, they should have used a scanner to 'accidentally' capture cell phone conversations instead.

Yes, perhap's they should h... (Below threshold)
914:

Yes, perhap's they should hire Shillary Rotham's defense team.

"Was this a staged stunt...... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Was this a staged stunt...?

Only if James O'Keefe is a homosexual masochist with a yen for hyper-realistic bondage & degradation in a prison setting.

Has William Jefferson (D) L... (Below threshold)
914:

Has William Jefferson (D) LA the "freezer Rapper" been sentenced yet? How deep does the corruption run down there? Im beginning to think it is comparable to Chicago politics.

BD is cruising for a date a... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

BD is cruising for a date again

"Acorn Busters" get busted ... (Below threshold)
Steve "Now THAT's Ironic" Green:

"Acorn Busters" get busted breaking the law. lol.

Irony - thy sting is hard.

ACORN Exonerated? ... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:
ACORN Exonerated? Read The Report And Decide Yourself

By Mark Memmott

Some on the liberal side of the blogosphere are pointing to a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service and saying it clears the controversial community organizing group ACORN of wrong-doing during last year's campaigns and of misusing money it gets from the federal government (Frank has followed some of the recent news about ACORN here and here).

Just what did CRS say? Its report, done for the House Judiciary Committee at the request of Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., is posted here

A couple passages are worth highlighting. I'm going to put some phrases in bold because they contain key information about what CRS actually did. The "you" CRS is addressing is Conyers:

-- You asked for a description of all federal funding received by ACORN over the last five fiscal years and a description of instances where ACORN violated the terms of federal funding. ... A search of reports of federal agency inspectors general did not identify instances in which ACORN violated the terms of federal funding in the last five years.

-- You asked CRS to research improper voter registrations that resulted in people being placed on the voting rolls and attempting to vote improperly at the polls. ... A NEXIS search of the ALL NEWS file did not identify any reported instances of individuals who were improperly registered by ACORN attempting to vote at the polls.

Those passages say CRS looked through reports and news stories, which certainly can be helpful -- but doesn't mean it did independent investigations and reached its own conclusions.

Another section of CRS' report is getting attention because it suggests that the undercover activists who posed as a pimp and prostitute when visiting some ACORN offices may have violated some laws when they videotaped the encounters. On that matter, the report states that:

"As a general matter federal law permits private individuals to record face to face conversations, as long as the recording is not done for criminal or tortious purposes. New York law seems even more forgiving, for it only reaches those who record remotely. The laws of the District of Columbia mirror federal law prior to the 1986 amendments to the federal statute. D.C. law permits one-party consent recordings, although the consequences of the want of complete symmetry with federal provisions are unclear. In contrast, the laws of Maryland and California appear to ban private recording of face to face conversations, absent the consent of all of the participants."

Jackasses go to Jail - film at 11.

From <a href="http://www.wa... (Below threshold)
James H:

From WaPo:

Supporters say O'Keefe and his friends entered Landrieu's office to conduct another undercover sting: to show on video that citizens trying to call Landrieu's office could not get through.

WTF?

Let's face it, all charges ... (Below threshold)
Milton:

Let's face it, all charges will be dropped, because he is poor white trash. This Tuesday, James O'Keefe was arrested by the FBI, for entering a federal property under false pretenses with the intent to commit a felony and maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America. They were dressed up as telephone company employees with tool belts and fluorescent jackets. It appears to be a bungled attempt to wiretap the office of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, in Louisiana and paid by Andrew Breitbart.

Aw, c'mon! These are just a... (Below threshold)

Aw, c'mon! These are just a bunch of kids! This is just a harmless school boy prank! You know what they say, don'cha? Boys will be boys!

No doubt about it. It'll be amusing to watch the right wing media trying to spin this latest debacle. Yesterday O'Keefe was the newest Fascist poster boy. Today he is a man looking at a nice stint in federal prison. The Republicans are once again experiencing the kind of OOPS moment for which they have become famous for in recent years. It really is quite touching when you think about it.

Is this merely the tip of a nasty iceberg? Will O'Keefe "cooperate" with federal investigators in order to reduce his sentence? Are there bigger fish that are due some serious frying?

To be continued....

Tom Degan




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