In what must be great news for ACORN, the filmmaker that was responsible for the recent controversy has been arrested in a bizarre effort to bug the offices of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Filmmaker James O’Keefe (shown left) was reportedly arrested with other individuals in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans. Also arrested were Joseph Basel, 24, Stan Dai , 24, and Robert Flanagan, 24. Notably, Flanagan is the son of the Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. I discussed the story on the Countdown segment below. O’Keefe previously dressed as a pimp to implicate Acorn in a videotaped interview.
The men reportedly 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. O’Keefe reportedly was videotaping the operation with his cellphone.
This is a very serious violation for all involved. This is a terribly sad day for William J. Flanagan, who I doubt had any knowledge or hint of this activity.
I cannot imagine anything quite as stupid as this operation. Whatever credibility O’Keefe had with conservatives just evaporated with any future that he had. Even the sponsor of a resolution praising O’Keefe seems to be moving to distance himself from the filmmaker, here. One organization has already canceled a keynote by O’Keefe, here.
It is hard to imagine an obvious defense, though all of the facts are not yet disclosed. There is a host of differences between a stunt in an Acorn office and this alleged stunt in a senatorial office.
They have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. However, that is likely only the first charge. There are a host of additional charges, particularly if the prosecutor support the widespread speculation of an alleged conspiracy to wiretap the office of a federal official. It is not clear if the authorities confirmed an effort to wiretap or found such equipment — as opposed to another prank-like video. Moreover, I would expect other possible arrests. Usually there are other individuals with knowledge of such a boneheaded plan. As for Flannagan’s father, he is in Shreveport and thus not necessarily involved in any official capacity. Obviously, he will be insulated from any role in any investigation under standard procedures for conflicts.
The men appear charged under 18 U.S.C. § 1036, “Entry by false pretenses to any real property, vessel, or aircraft of the United States or secure area of any airport or seaport.” This provision states:
Whoever, by any fraud or false pretense, enters or attempts to enter–
(1) any real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States;
(2) any vessel or aircraft belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States;
(3) any secure or restricted area of any seaport, designated as secure in an approved security plan, as required under section 70103 of title 46, United States Code, and the rules and regulations promulgated under that section; or
(4) any secure area of any airport,
shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is–
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if the offense is committed with the intent to commit a felony; or
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both, in any other case.
(c) As used in this section–
(1) the term “secure area” means an area access to which is restricted by the airport authority, captain of the seaport, or a public agency; and
(2) the term “airport” has the meaning given such term in section 47102 of title 49.
The affidavit refers to an intent to interfere with the telephone system. It does not refer to finding surveillance equipment while it does refer to an effort to gain access to the main control board for the telephone system. It also indicates that two of the suspects already made incriminating statements.
A number of possible charges are possible depending on how the evidence unfolds.
First, there is “the prosecutor’s darling” conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. 371, which makes it is a crime for “two or more persons [to] conspire … to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.” There are roughly twenty other conspiracy crimes in the federal code in addition to section 371.
Then there is the possibility of electronic surveillance charges from attempted interception to possession of surveillance equipment if such evidence is confirmed. Section 2511 states:
Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who—
(a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;
(b) intentionally uses, endeavors to use, or procures any other person to use or endeavor to use any electronic, mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral communication when—
(i) such device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection used in wire communication; or
(ii) such device transmits communications by radio, or interferes with the transmission of such communication; or
(iii) such person knows, or has reason to know, that such device or any component thereof has been sent through the mail or transported in interstate or foreign commerce; or
(iv) such use or endeavor to use (A) takes place on the premises of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or (B) obtains or is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the operations of any business or other commercial establishment the operations of which affect interstate or foreign commerce; or
(v) such person acts in the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States;
(c) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection;
(d) intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, oral, or electronic communication in violation of this subsection; or
(i) intentionally discloses, or endeavors to disclose, to any other person the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication, intercepted by means authorized by sections 2511 (2)(a)(ii), 2511 (2)(b)–(c), 2511(2)(e), 2516, and 2518 of this chapter,
(ii) knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of such a communication in connection with a criminal investigation,
(iii) having obtained or received the information in connection with a criminal investigation, and
(iv) with intent to improperly obstruct, impede, or interfere with a duly authorized criminal investigation,
shall be punished as provided in subsection (4) or shall be subject to suit as provided in subsection (5).
Section 2512 deals directly with any electronic surveillance device:
(1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter, any person who intentionally –
* (a) sends through the mail, or sends or carries in interstate or foreign commerce, any electronic, mechanical, or other device, knowing or having reason to know that the design of such device renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications;
* (b) manufactures, assembles, possesses, or sells any electronic, mechanical, or other device, knowing or having reason to know that the design of such device renders it primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications, and that such device or any component thereof has been or will be sent through the mail or transported in interstate or foreign commerce;
Depending on who they spoke to in the course of this day, they could also conceivably face charges under 18 U.S.C. 1001, in giving false information to federal officers. The provision:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any
matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or
judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly
and willfully –
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or
device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent
statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the
same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent
statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years
or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as
defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or
both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B,
110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed
under this section shall be not more than 8 years.
For the original affidavit, click here.
63 thoughts on “Pimped Out: Filmmaker James O’Keefe and Son of U.S. Attorney Arrested in Possible Effort to Bug Office of Sen. Mary Landrieu”
I feel it is incumbent to point out that no one knows all the facts of this situation yet and speculating about it in the blogosphere is just a waste of bits. However, I do feel it is important to point out that if the “Pimp-gate” 4 are using the defense that they “wanted to see how the senator’s staff would react to the phones being down”, they are still screwed. Namely, title 18 Part 1, Chapter 65, 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.
Did I not explain the use/my use of emoticons? Did I not cast the statement in the comedic format of association or projection? Do you not get the joke which is implicit? That we both hold views that are extremist is virtually beside the point, though true. How do I know you are an extremist? I recognise the trait in you from my familiarity with the nature of some my own views.
lottakatz said “[Y]ou’re such an extremist on some subjects that I don’t know how to take some of your statements. Don’t deny it, you have some seriously extremist views.”
Extremist? Is that the way opposing views are defined? I guess that’s the easy way out. I guess that grants permission to be dismissive. Anyone who doesn’t share the same views (or at least close to the same views) is an extremist?
Maybe your definition of “extremist” is different than mine. In my view, an extremist is one who goes over the top to demonstrate their views. The guy who shot Dr. Tiller. The shoe-bomber. The guy who went to live with grizzly bears. The guy who shot people at the holocaust museum. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow. Those are extremist.
Are you sure you don’t use the word “extremist” just to give yourself permission to ignore alternative ideas?
I will put you to task, and ask that you demonstrate my “extremist views”. Was it due to my view, that criminal activity in the workplace should be enough reason to terminate an employee? Or is it that I operate my own business?
If it feels like I am poking fun at you for calling me an extremist; I am. I’m not doing it in a mean-spirited way. I’m doing it to show how ridiculous it is to apply extremism to any and all oposition.
I think Andrew Knows something.
A1 to A73 in 24 Hours: The Life and Death of ‘Watergate Jr.
by Andrew Breitbart
For those in the mainstream media committed to report the false and libelous narrative of “Watergate Jr.,” “wiretapping” and “bugging,” I predict much egg on your J-school grad faces. In your rush to judgment to convict James O’Keefe and his companions, you vengeful political partisans of press forgot to ponder: “Was Mr. O’Keefe up to one of his patented and obvious clown nose-on hidden camera tricks, trying to make his subjects look foolish?” Blog commenters seem to be quicker on the uptake than six-figured Washington-based pundits these days. And I predict there will be tape to vindicate these four pranksters, too.
rafflaw , “I will repeat myself. Can you spell Watergate??”
I hear ya’ brother. It was all about the cover-up; everything made public flowed from that. It was when the Senate still had some honorable men as I recall. The MSNBC story (below in its entirety)looks like the first move in limiting damage. Of course, this episode won’t get really interesting until we move into the “modified, limited hang-out” phase. Ghod, I loved the Watergate hearings.
There have been a couple of interesting updates to the story:
“Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community”
“The three accused by the FBI of “aiding and abetting” O’Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O’Keefe is 25, and the other three are 24.
Dai’s links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University’s Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.”
…”Dai has been an undergraduate fellow with the Washington-based national security think tank Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (FDD), ”
“From NBC’s Pete Williams
A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.
Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.
That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt — to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn’t get through?”
Duh, “lottakatz, Lighten Up! It was an attempt at humor. You do remember humor?
Vaguely. Humor can be difficult in print. I use the smiley emoticon a lot and I know it appears to be a juvenile affectation but I have gotten in trouble when I did not do so and was not attempting to.
Also, you’re such an extremist on some subjects that I don’t know how to take some of your statements. Don’t deny it, you have some seriously extremist views. How do I know? We recognize our own 🙂
I will repeat myself. Can you spell Watergate??
Lighten Up! It was an attempt at humor. You do remember humor? The statement by the FBI Agent was so vague, that I found it worthless. So I (attempted) to make light of it.
I’m a working stiff; just like you. I’m not the bad guy. I’m just somebody that has a different perspective, and offers my own opinion. I’m not an undercover agent for the ______ (fill in the blank). I don’t get paid to voice my opinion.
You can’t buld an army capable of defeating the enemy by alienating EVERYONE who doesn’t agree with you on EVERYTHING. When you figure out that we have much more in common, than those few areas in which we disagree, you’ll then be able to overcome the real threats.
“they may think it is a prank, but clearly the officials do not. Personally I am wondering if Andrew Brietbart put him up to this. Why would a 25 year old throw his life away like that? Was he delusional after the press he got? Did he think he was the caped crusader? He is either, very smart, very stupid, naive or a combination of all three.”
I see some people speculating that he was investigating why Mary Landrieu’s phones always seem to be busy. Are they switched off on purpose during controversial legislation?
“Hmmm? What would someone have in their car that could pick up transmissions?”
Don’t be disingenuous. The same technology works on any phone with an in-line interceptor, playing dumb won’t get these guys off either. Well, maybe it will, this is about politics after all, not purely law:
Go down to ‘Tapping Home Phones’ Easily doable from a remote location as long as they get an in-range parking spot. Even I understand the technology; that means it’s reached the lowest common denominator and readily available.
John Puma, Links to ‘This Modern World’
One of my favorite comic strips, thanks.
1, January 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm
I swear that “I will be on Countdown to discuss the story tonight.” wasn’t there when I posted my comment. I think ….
The Professor is just playing with our minds. He can be a cruel master 🙂
My sense of it is that Mr. O’Keefe has become a victim of his own fame. He was treated as a Major American Hero following release of the ACORN video because conservatives have long opposed that organization. He quickly became the darling of the conservative media, making numerous appearances, and began to believe what they were saying about them. He gradually came to perceive himself as a new and invincible force for truth, justice and investigative journalism. Filled with this new-found hubris, he determined to “investigate” Sen. Landrieu based upon something someone said to him. Unfortunately, he forgot that even investigative journalists are subject to the criminal code. Oops. Now his conservative friends are quickly distancing themselves, without even waiting for an adjudication of guilt. There is no presumption of innocence for baby politicians.
As the words of an old Black hymn goes, “If you dig one ditch you had better dig two ’cause the one you dig just might be for you.”
As Acorn stated, “Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.”
Mr. Turley emphasizes in both his article and in the Countdown clip that O’Keefe and cohorts face “very serious charges”. If this is true, why was bale set so low (a mere $10,000)? It seems that if the charges are in fact very serious, that bale should have been considerably higher. Anyone have any insights on this?
“We have no knowledge about or connection to any alleged acts and events involving James O’Keefe at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office,” Breitbart declared in a statement shortly after the story broke late Tuesday afternoon.
A few hours later, Breitbart had more to say on Big Government — accusing the “Mainstream Media,” ACORN and Media Matters of “jumping to conclusions” and smearing O’Keefe and his co-defendants.
“Let me state clearly for the record: wiretapping is wrong. But until I hear the full story from James O’Keefe, I will not speculate as to what he was doing in Louisiana,” Breitbart said.
In other words, stay tuned.
ACORN is back in the news but the news still gets it wrong
But EmpireCookie, Not all pimps are Republican. Some pimps actually have to get others to do the dirty. Oh, wait a minute. There may not be much difference either way.
Lets check, do real pimps vote? Hard to tell, what is meant by voting.
Do pimps donate to there favorite charity? Yes, themselves.
Do Pimps have attorneys and bail bondsmen on retainer?
I guess you are correct, not much difference after going through the facts.
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