Filmmaker O’Keefe Tweets on Pending Charges

It appears that conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe is continuing to comment on his case. Raw Story and other sites are reporting that O’Keefe tweeted shortly around midnight last night that “Govt official concedes no attempt to wiretap.” In the meantime, it appears that the stunt in New Orleans may have been an effort to cut off the telephones or film their operation as opposed to wiretapping calls. I discussed this story on Hardball and Rachel Maddow.

As noted in the segment below from Countdown, the affidavit accompanying the charges was curious in two respects. First, the government was charging a higher category of trespass by alleging intent to commit a felony. However, the prosecutors failed to state what that felony was. The clear suggestion of the affidavit was that the “malicious” interference with the telephone system was to wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office. Second, if this was a conspiracy to wiretap, one would have expected a reference to electronic surveillance equipment found at the scene.

Now, O’Keefe is saying that the government is not pursuing a surveillance theory. Such a development is important and worth public attention.

If he is not accused of attempted electronic surveillance, the ten year maximum under section 1036 may be the upper limit. The affidavit appears to be referring to section 1362 which states:

Whoever … willfully or maliciously interferes in any way with the working or use of any [radio, telegraph, telephone or cable, line, station, or system, or other means of communication, operated or controlled by the United States], or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Section 2 of that law expressed includes:

(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

This may ultimately be the dispossession of the charges with Sections 1036 and 1362. However, there are also possible charges of conspiracy and false statements for these men as well as possible third parties.

It has also been reported that O’Keefe is under a gag order not to discuss the case. These orders can create difficulties for the defense when someone like O’Keefe is being widely accused of a wiretapping conspiracy. He has an obvious desire to rebut those allegations — as do his lawyers. Moreover, he was merely referencing a news development in a brief tweet.

Finally, a court would be on precarious ground when it says that a defendant cannot speak for himself in public. O’Keefe could raise first amendment claims if the government decides to raise the matter with the court. Nevertheless, it could be viewed as a technical violation since these orders often refer to the parties in general and not just the lawyers. One recent such controversy occurred in Texas, here, but such disputes are not uncommon in high profile cases. For another such recent case, click here.

Restrictions on statements to the press are often imposed by court rules for any criminal case. A court can then add a more detailed and demanding gag order in a given case. Reports indicate that a gag order was in place in this case.

Attorneys in some recent hig-profile cases have asked for such gag orders to be lifted to allow their client to defend himself in the public forum, here. On occasion, courts will grant such motions.

Even without a gag order, it is always a mistake for clients to directly manage the media or speak on a case. Most lawyers strictly forbid such communications absent prior legal review and supervision. While this violation is not likely to result in a serious penalty, it can bring a rebuke from the Court and undermine the relationship with the judge.

MSNBC is reporting that officials say that the men did want to interfere with the phones by shutting them off (one of the possibilities that I discussed below). In a remarkably dumb prank, they “wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative.” This was connected to their opposition to Sen. Landrieu’s position on health care. I will not try to bridge that logical gap.

O’Keefe seems to relish reckless acts. His stunt with ACORN appears to have violated state laws. Even without a surveillance conspiracy, the Landrieu stunt is still quite serious. What is interesting is that O’Keefe hardly needs to directly communicate such information given the press attention in the case.

For the story, click here.

320 thoughts on “Filmmaker O’Keefe Tweets on Pending Charges”

  1. I just re read it AY and your right, someone needs to report that to the professor Immediately!!!!!

  2. First, this is not Mike S’s writing style and second, no picture of the man in the beard.

  3. “There you go again Duh. Perhaps your problem is that you only skim others comments and don’t read them. Byron and FFLEO are conservatives and yet are highly valued members of this forum. JT and Mespo lean more towards the Libertarian side of things (I think) and yet they are esteemed here.

    I’ve said this before in comments on this thread but you choose to ignore anything that you feel you can’t answer. That is the tactic of a propagandist, not someone who wants discussion.”

    That was the previous paragraph to the statement you quoted Duh, if you can’t understand the point that is not my problem.

    “Duh pushed my button because he is a knee jerk example of the faux conservative noise machine that has dominated our politics since the time of Nixon. Plus I’ve explained why I attack him as I do, whether or not you like the explanation.

    Translated: Duh provides commentary that I don’t agree with, so I have no choice but to resort to ad hominem attacks. He makes me do it. It’s his fault, not mine.”

    Again you delete context from my statement. However, let me give you a fuller context that can be found by anyone who cares to look. After the Goldwater Debacle in 1964 a bunch of like minded conservatives/corporatists, with lots of money decided that their problem was PR and launched a long run campaign to win the propaganda wars. Their initial foray was to create foundations like Heritage, funded by a John Birch Society Member, to provide academic speakers who would present the face of their brand of corpratism to the media. Many foundations were formed and after a while the lazy media began to put these people on without giving the context that they were paid spokesman. By 1968 Nixon realized that the Presidency could be won by using the disaffection with the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements heavily in the South and the country as a whole.

    They were very good on PR and invented memes like “soft on crime”
    and “lawlessness” which became codewords for racism and hatred of the counter culture. Now in truth both these movements played into their hands after the death of MLK and RFK by becoming caricatures of themselves and believing in their own omnipotence, so they made the job easy.

    What was added in the age of Nixon was the professionalism of the “dirty trick” player, Donald Segetti was the first I believe. Their object was to make the opposition look bad by developing a negative narrative, even when one didn’t exist. It was the epitome of Watergate and why Nixon had to leave office.
    However, he was was ultimately replaced by Carter and Segretti by
    Lee Atwater, who in turn trained Karl Rove. The conservative foundations flourished and the three networks were taken over by large, conservative corporations. The floodgates opened as propaganda became the new coin of political gain. Sunday news shows all had guests each week from the conservative foundations, who were now referred to reverantly as academics and disinterested experts.

    Stories were planted in the news to make it seem as if all government was incompetent and only business knew how to get things done. Tom Brokaw of NBC News, owned by the world’s largest defense contractor, GE, had nightly stories showing government incompetence. The PR campaign worked, the sons and daughters of the original founders followed in their footsteps. Nancy Reagan’s father for instance was an original member of the John Birch Society, which was dedicated to bigotry and the end of all government regulation.

    We are now in a stage where 50 years of propaganda and a lowering of educational standards has gotten many people to believe in what really is in their worst interests. However, that is the political game and liberals/moderates deserve what they get because they haven’t even realized the PR war they are in.

    The technique that was perfected by Karl Rove, namely the old Nazi technique of the Big Lie, is what gets me mad. That technique, developed by Streicher and Goebbels was simply that if you repeat a lie often enough in public, people begin to believe it’s true. i.e. Obama is not a natural born citizen.

    You duh are a propagator of the Big Lie, whether intentionally, or not, I neither know nor care. It is typified by your rush to promote the right’s talking points, no matter their silliness, or viciousness. By engaging in debate with you each time you present an unthinking viewpoint helps repeat the “Big Lie” and thus adds credibility to the untruth. I refuse to play your game and it mystifies you because it works so well with others.

    People like Byron and FFLEO think things through for themselves and many times I even agree with their viewpoints. You probably don’t even realize that I’m really not a left winger per se, I am a pragmatist and iconoclast. I have stated here many times that i’m not interested in political philosophy because it’s what gets people jailed and killed. I selfishly want and try to work for a better human race because I’ve got children and grandchildren. Whether you accept it or not that is the reason for my treatment of you in the manner I do, because to me not to do so, gives your propaganda license.

  4. Mespo you are too much, which is better that not enough.

    You’re One of a kind, which doesn’t beat two of a kind but is still special no matter how many hands one is dealt.

  5. Duh & FFLeo:

    I took the Duh comment in the humorous vein it was intended and greatly appreciate FFLeo’s flattering remarks.

    I am not really all that complicated. I prefer “misunderstood,” as in “To be great is to be misunderstood.” Now that thought really is humorous. 🙂

  6. Duh,

    Yes, I understood your humorous intent because of the “LOL.” I also added the ‘et al.’ for a distinct reason. I quoted your comment because had you not posted about mespo, I would not have responded; that is, your post was the impetus for my post and I took it the way you intended it to be—a humorous ‘jab’ and I know that mespo will (or has) also..

  7. FFLEO,

    After reading your post, and since you quoted me, I’m not sure if you took my comment about Mespo in the right way. I intended no disrespect towards Mespo. I, in a light-hearted, humorous fashion, expressed that Mespo is complicated. I like complicated people. They generally have much to share, which provides me with much to learn.

    My intent was to get a freindly chuckle from Mespo. I hope that he took it that way.

  8. Why did they hurt me?
    How many times have you felt that someone did hurt you on intention?
    How many sleepless nights have you spent because of the feeling of being hurt?
    Have you ever tried to know whether people really intended to hurt you or whether its jut your lack of understanding of the full picture?

    Stand right in front of a big building and look at one of the walls then describe what you are seeing. If you found that you are only seeing a wall then take few steps back and take another look; here you will see a part of a building but if you stepped back again for a bigger distance you will see the whole building or the full picture.

    In most cases, people feel hurt because they only see part of the truth while ignoring that full picture that could have made them see this situation in a totally different way.

    Let go. Understand that there is no benefit in holding on to heartache, regret, and hatred toward another person. Realize that although it is over, your relationship with that person was unique and special. XOXOXOX

  9. Duh wrote:

    “Thanks for weighing-in Mespo.

    When I first started reading this blawg, I wasn’t sure what to make of you. Today, Well, I’m still not sure. :>) LOL”

    Duh et al.

    Mespo is one among a diverse—albeit not abundantly numerous—cadre of intelligent lawyers who transform this blog into a blawg following the lead of the initial articles by Professor Turley. Those attorneys could easily spend most of their limited free time within other very good ABA blawgs that are mostly populated by other lawyers; however, they grace this site with their presence and provide us with legal perspectives along with those for which an overall good law degree education provides them.

    I have had several substantive disagreements with Mespo, although I never lost respect for his exceptional contributions herein. The same goes for your apparent blawg nemesis, Mike Spindell. Win/lose/or draw we avoided abject ad hominem attacks because of mutual respect and regardless of intellectual and/or educational disparities. If I disagree with their posts—or those of the many regulars I like—and I cannot rebut their positions with something logical and constructive, I simply ignore them the same way I would avoid irregular, but pesky troublemakers’ claptrap/twaddle. My best guess is that they and other regulars sometimes avoid my posts for similar reasons.

    While I can and do ‘get off track’, I most often try to remember that this is Professor Turley’s cyber-place/virtual classroom. I would not want to do anything that would denigrate or demean his site or him—notwithstanding that I sometimes adamantly disagree with his liberal positions while having the utmost respect for the man, his chosen profession, and admiration for his exceptionally good character.

    Therefore, when we *guests* here squabble like a passel of high school dropouts on secondhand dope, we not only debase ourselves, we disgrace the opportunity a fine legal scholar has provided for us to debate. Try to view this as a high school or college debate chamber with the addition of an abundance of humor and witticisms allowed that stuffy lectern debates preclude, but one many leagues shy of a virtual Fool’s Paradise.

  10. “Duh pushed my button because he is a knee jerk example of the faux conservative noise machine that has dominated our politics since the time of Nixon. Plus I’ve explained why I attack him as I do, whether or not you like the explanation.”

    Translated: Duh provides commentary that I don’t agree with, so I have no choice but to resort to ad hominem attacks. He makes me do it. It’s his fault, not mine.

  11. Mike Spindell,

    Thanks for your constructive criticism.

    It would help me, and others, if you could provide us with a reference to a post to support or help explain this statement you made;

    “I’ve said this before in comments on this thread but you choose to ignore anything that you feel you can’t answer. I have made points to you which dealt with what you had written, but you ignored them by choosing to focus on what you wanted to say, rather than what you had no reply for.”

    I honestly cannot figure out what you’re talking about. I expect that you will provide a reply that amounts to “you’re too stupid to know, I’m not going to point it out”. Which would indicate that you either don’t really desire corrective action, or that you can’t support your claim.

    You said “It never ceases to amaze me how faux conservatives like yourself, can dish it out but can’t take it.”

    Can you please tell us all what the “it” is you are referring to?
    Are you using ambiguity as the primary focus of your rhetoric? Is that your game?

  12. “We’ve had too much acrimony here that only resulted in the loss of two voices I would dearly like to hear again. (Patty C & Jill). Only the fool is certain, and I welcome views opposite to my own.”

    Permit me to weigh in also about your tolerance for other views. I guess that goes well until someone brings up religion and then somehow you call them the equivalent of idiots. I offer as evidence your treatment on another thread of 30%er, which was beyond harsh to say the least and practically totally missed what he was really trying to say.

    I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored, or perhaps which buttons we don’t want pushed. Bdaman pushed my button by calling me a “Christ Killer” and there really are some things I don’t forgive. Duh pushed my button because he is a knee jerk example of the faux conservative noise machine that has dominated our politics since the time of Nixon. Plus I’ve explained why I attack him as I do, whether or not you like the explanation.

    I regret Patty C.’s leaving also, as you might remember, but she really kept going over the top in her indictments of Jill. Ah, and then we have Jill. Patty had it right, had she expressed herself with far less vitriol. Jill was fine on the attack, but when respectfully disagreed with, enterred pleas suprisingly similar to Duh’s. She attacked me twice for personally attacking her and in both instances i hadn’t, but she played the sympathy trump. If I atack someone personally I admit it openly, as I have with Duh. I didn’t with Jill and I wasn’t even the principal in that thread. However, to up the ante, since the sympathy trump wasn’t working, she threatened to leave and when that didn’t work she left of her own volition.

  13. “Isn’t it that a conservative point of view causes you to become outraged? Anyone posting a conservative point of view should be silenced before they “in-flame” the debate? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

    There you go again Duh. Perhaps your problem is that you only skim others comments and don’t read them. Byron and FFLEO are conservatives and yet are highly valued members of this forum. JT and Mespo lean more towards the Libertarian side of things (I think) and yet they are esteemed here.

    I’ve said this before in comments on this thread but you choose to ignore anything that you feel you can’t answer. That is the tactic of a propagandist, not someone who wants discussion. I have made points to you which dealt with what you had written, but you ignored them by choosing to focus on what you wanted to say, rather than what you had no reply for. That too is the mark of a propagandist and a troll.

    It never ceases to amaze me how faux conservatives like yourself, can dish it out but can’t take it. I believe it’s because you cling to a non existent version of reality, such as dressing up as phone men to illegally gain entrance to a Senator’s office is alternatively a prank or investigative journalism.

  14. Has Sean Hannity mentioned the arrest on his radio show yet?

    What are parents supposed to think when he prunes reality, censors questions and whitewashes felony charges against the kid that he chose to make famous?

  15. “Media Matters: Not-so-Breitbart and the story of James O’Keefe

    Back in September, right-wing activist James O’Keefe told Fox News host Glenn Beck that he was “willing to serve prison time” for his work.

    That just may happen.

    According to an affidavit from the FBI, O’Keefe and three others were arrested on Monday in connection with an alleged plot to “interfer[e]” with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office. O’Keefe is perhaps best known for the heavily edited and misleading undercover videos he and Hannah Giles shot of low-level ACORN employees while the right-wing duo were dressed as a pimp and prostitute, an escapade that itself may have violated state criminal statutes.

    The New York Times reports that “the four men, two of whom were dressed as telephone repairmen, were charged with entering a federal property on false pretenses with the purpose of committing a felony. The crime charged is itself a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.”

    As Media Matters’ Eric Hananoki noted, O’Keefe’s three alleged accomplices — Joseph Basel, Robert Flanagan, and Stan Dai — are right-wing activists as well. Basel was the founder of a conservative campus publication at the University of Minnesota-Morris, which, like the campus publication started by O’Keefe at Rutgers University, received funding from the conservative Leadership Institute’s “Balance in Media” grant. Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana William Flanagan, reportedly works at the conservative Pelican Institute in New Orleans, just half a block from Landrieu’s office. Dai received $5,000 from the right-wing Phillips Foundation’s Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Scholarship Program. Additionally, during his time as a campus conservative, Dai reportedly co-wrote “a satirical work entitled The Penis Monologues, apparently a takeoff on the Vagina Monologues.”

    News of the four’s arrest spread quickly Tuesday.

    Because Fox News had showered O’Keefe’s undercover video work targeting ACORN with near wall-to-wall coverage, one would have hoped the conservative network would provide comparable coverage of the arrest — it did not. In fact, a Media Matters study comparing coverage of the day following the release of O’Keefe and Giles’ first ACORN tape and the day news of O’Keefe’s arrest broke found that Fox News provided 13 times more coverage to the video.

    Fox News’ first segment on O’Keefe’s arrest was as funny as it was disappointing (view it here). During the report, assignment manager Tim Gaughan called the news a “very weird story that probably needs a lot of context and a lot of looking into.” Sage advice — too bad the network often didn’t offer ACORN the same deference.

    It really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Fox News handled the O’Keefe arrest with such kid gloves. After the release of his ACORN videos, Fox and other media conservatives lavished praise on O’Keefe. Beck called him “courageous.” Andrew Breitbart — more on him in a bit — said that O’Keefe “is already well on his way to being one of the great journalists” and that he deserved a Pulitzer Prize. Sean Hannity applauded him as a “pioneer in journalism.” Bill O’Reilly said he deserved a “congressional medal.” Right-wing author Ann Coulter said O’Keefe was “so magnificent.” National Review editor Rich Lowry said he deserved an “award for impactful guerilla journalism.” On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace featured O’Keefe as “Power Player of the Week.” And when news came that O’Keefe might be sued by ACORN or its staffers over the videos, Hannity and Breitbart led the conservative media fundraising campaign for his defense.

    The fact that the right-wing media were so smitten with O’Keefe no doubt accounts for their skittish, measured response to the arrest. The Fox News website Fox Nation even posted a headline that read ” ‘There’s Much More to This Story.’ ”

    Perhaps no one in the conservative media has more to lose over this story than the previously mentioned Breitbart, a protégé of Internet gossip Matt Drudge and proprietor of a variety of right-wing websites including After all, he was first to champion the undercover ACORN videos O’Keefe and Giles shot last year.

    Breitbart claimed that he was “out of the loop on this” and released a public statement to some in the press saying he had “no knowledge” “or connection to” O’Keefe’s actions. Breitbart also admitted during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he pays O’Keefe a “fair salary” so that “when he puts a story out there, it’s on the Breitbart sites, the Big sites, that he can tell people what transpired.” He reiterated during that interview that he was not connected with O’Keefe’s actions in Landrieu’s office.

    It’s been entertaining watching Breitbart lecture others on journalistic ethics when he’s shown such little regard for truth in his own work. In fact, according to a report released this week by Media Matters, Breitbart’s “Big” websites — Big Hollywood, Big Government, and Big Journalism — as well as his website, have in recent months laid claim to many “exclusives,” touting controversial and sensationalist storylines that have been picked up by other conservative media outlets, from Fox News on down. However, a closer examination reveals that many of Breitbart’s “scoops” have been based on speculation, gross distortions, and outright falsehoods.

    Later in the week, Breitbart brought his ACORN video lies and full-throated defense of O’Keefe to MSNBC, where he was subjected to a grilling by David Shuster that was followed up by an interview with Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert, who said Breitbart’s type of journalism produces “the kind of Johnny Knoxville situation we get down in New Orleans.”

    Ultimately, Breitbart predicted “there will be tape to vindicate these four pranksters.” Yep, the man who previously said O’Keefe deserved a Pulitzer is now calling him a “prankster.” How’s that for spin?

    Breitbart continued to function as O’Keefe’s de facto public relations flack as the week came to an end, posting a statement that “[o]n reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation” on his websites. Of course, Fox News is doing its part, trumpeting news of an exclusive O’Keefe interview with Hannity coming next week.

    So, how on earth could James O’Keefe think for even a minute that these types of actions might be a good idea? The answer to that question can be found in his own words from just two weeks ago.

    During an interview with Adam Weinberg of The Centurion — the right-wing student publication at Rutgers University that claims O’Keefe as a “founding editor” — Breitbart’s protégé said, “The more bold you are, the more opportunities will be open to you. The less bold you are, the less opportunities in life will be open to you.” He went on: “[T]he more you put yourself out there and you take those calculated risks — the contrary of what people actually think is going to happen — you’re actually going to get opportunities.”

    That’s the life lesson O’Keefe learned from his relationship with Andrew Breitbart — the man who made him a right-wing star and Fox News celebrity.

    Ultimately, a jury of O’Keefe’s peers may decide his fate, but it should be lost on no one that Breitbart and his allies at Fox News share in the responsibility for what has been alleged to have transpired.”

  16. Byron : …”Who would have thought that evangelical Christians and Nazi’s would want to keep them (women) down on the farm barefoot and pregnant. Well Actually one woman did, a champion of the individual . . . I’ll let you figure it out.

    —-Eleanor Roosevelt! Yes, I agree totally, she was very forward looking and had a remarkable depth of compassion and wisdom not fully appreciated in her tenure as first lady. She is one of my personal hero’s. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom attributed to her:

    Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

    In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

    Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.

    One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

    The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.

    Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

    I can not believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.

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