What Was He Looking For?

James O’Keefe, the investigative journalist who uncovered the corruption of ACORN, got busted in a (possible) attempt to bug the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office. [h/t Instapundit] It’s clearly a case that comes from a Greek tragedy in which success leads to hubris which leads to the hero’s downfall. I rather expected something like this to happen to O’Keefe or someone seeking to emulate him.

However, when I first read this story, the first thought that popped into my mind was, “What was he looking for?” You don’t go around randomly bugging the office phones of US Senators. No, O’Keefe must have some information that made him think bugging Landrieu’s phones would reveal information damning enough of Landrieu that people would overlook the wiretapping when he made it public.

What does O’Keefe suspect about Landrieu and is he right about it?

[Update: I though the entire Greek tragedy bit explained what I thought but just to be clear, I’m not excusing O’Keefe if he did in fact try to wiretap a US Senator. That is very serious if no other reason than US Senators deal with National Security information and we wouldn’t want to establish a precedent were anybody could listen in on them. Non-leftist should always be aware of the dangers of setting a dangerous precedent merely for short-term gain because leftist certainly won’t.]

16 thoughts on “What Was He Looking For?”

  1. I’m sticking with hubris and overreach for now. Any underlying story should wait until there’s actual evidence. I believe in innocent until proven guilty even for my political enemies. Besides, if Landrieu *is* dirty, the last thing needed is for her to clean up any inconvenient evidence. Go to sleep, Mary, we’ll leave you alone, really.

  2. The story is far from over. First, they had no “bugging” equipment with them. There is some discussion going on about this story.

    “We were stunned to learn that so many phone calls to Sen. Landrieu have been unanswered and met with continuous busy signals,” Perkins said. “We asked them to call their senators. They could get through to Sen. Vitter, but not Sen. Landrieu.”

    “Our lines have been jammed for weeks, and I apologize,” Landrieu said in interview after giving a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “But no amount of jamming is going to keep me from supporting a good work for Louisiana and the nation.”

    Dwight Hudson of Central said many of his fellow Baton Rouge Tea Party members had phoned Landrieu’s office unsuccessfully for weeks. “The point is they’re not getting their opinion heard. Maybe that’s why they’re out here today,” he said.

    There is speculation going on that they were looking for evidence that the phones had previously been altered by disconnecting the outside lines that had public numbers.

    Whatever their reasons, it was a foolish and dangerous stunt. O’Keefe, especially, should have known that his connection to any stunt like this would be used to discredit his ACORN expose and that is exactly what is happening.

  3. Landrieu’s not the story here. Don’t try to spin this. We’re not above the law. Furthermore, unlike the left, we don’t even believe we’re above the law. When we act as if we are, we look like hypocrites.

    The story here, as Michael Kennedy observes, is that O’Keefe just shot us all in the foot on a fairly grand scale. This will be used against honest people for years, even if he’s not found guilty. We’re not the left. We don’t get to play by those rules. The media won’t spin this for us as a pardonable excess of idealistic zeal. Even if we could get away with it, we should not try. Wrong is wrong.

    O’Keefe started out well, but he turned out to be a destructive idiot. I hope he spends a few years in jail where he can’t do any more damage. Good riddance. I don’t want him on my side if he’s going to do things like this.

  4. Retardo,

    I’m not trying to excuse O’Keefe if he did what was claimed.

    However, the existence of one crime/misdeed might point to another. If you read a news story that person A punched person B, that immediately raises questions as to why person A thought person B needed hitting. Sometimes, it turns out that person B really needed a pop in the snoot.

    O’Keefe found and developed a story about ACORN that everyone else ignored. It’s possible, given his notoriety, that someone gave him a lead he felt justified such a risky operation.

  5. Michael Kennedy,

    I find it difficult to believe he was actually trying to wiretap the senator. Anything is possible when you’re young, stupid and full of yourself but I don’t see how he could expect to meet his goals using a wiretap. By wiretap I mean actually recording/listening-to the contents of phone calls. (AFAK, traffic analysis, i.e. seeing how many calls are made to and from a particular number, is not actually illegal.)

    (1) Firstly, he could not use any of the information gained from a tap in any published story. At best, he could only hope to uncover some other misdeed which he could reveal without revealing how he found out about it. He would have to have a strong suspicion of misdeed to take that risk.

    (2) Even for a fame addled college student, the enormous risk legal risk of wiretapping, would be obvious.

    (3) On top of the usual risk, wiretapping a senator is a federal crime so he would (and does now) face prosecution at the hands of the Obama administration who must have a serious grudge against him. It would be like Woodward and Bernstein post-Watergate planning a crime they knew would place them at the mercy of Nixon’s Department of Justice.

  6. If anyone touched a phone in that office, or looked funny at one, it could be considered “Tampering” even if the intent was to see if it was in working order. Though I rarely underestimate peoples stupidity; I just can’t see wire tapping a senators office as something O’Keefe would even consider.

    My bet would be:

    O’Keefe wanted to show how Lanndrieu’s office is deliberately unresponsive to callers.

    Landrieu has “Thrown the book” at O’Keefe to intimidate and deflect whatever story he was trying to dig up.

  7. Male #1 walks into the office and asks to see someone with whom he has an appointment. Male #2 is sitting in his car 2 blocks away. Males #3 and 4, dressed as repairmen enter office. They ask to test telephones in office. They test them by calling each phone with a cell phone. They remark that calls don’t go through. They then ask to check the main telephone entry box which is down the hall. As soon as they are out of the room someone calls Federal Marshalls (not the police, not the DHS, not the FBI). The Marshalls arrive in 42 seconds. They arrest males 1, 3, and 4. A separate marshall walks up to the car parked 2 blocks away and simultaneously arrests Male #2.

    Besides O’keefe, males 2,3,4 are very active in upper level state Reublican politics.

    This was a sting operation. It was brilliantly planned to discredit Drudge, Breitbart, and the Repulican Party. It is a shame that the Federal Marshalls Office has been corrupted enough that it eagerly used its police powers to enforce a personal political vendetta. In comming days we will see if the Federal judicuiary under Obama has been corrupted as well.

    These types of moves were common in Germany in the early 30s and Russia in the 20’s. Remember that Hitler and Stalin were Socialists.

  8. Anonymous,

    As soon as they are out of the room someone calls Federal Marshalls (not the police, not the DHS, not the FBI).

    IIRC, the Federal Marshal’s service is in charge of Senate Security most because they are under the command of the Federal Courts and therefore theoretically less susceptible to Senatorial corruption.

    It is a shame that the Federal Marshalls Office has been corrupted enough that it eagerly used its police powers to enforce a personal political vendetta.

    Well, if O’Keefe was stupid enough to cross the line, they weren’t corrupted.

    And lose the Nazi comparisons, it’s distracting.

  9. A commenter on another blog pointed out that modern telephones are all controlled by browser functions and the examination of the telephone closet would be very unlikely to answer a question about tampering with incoming lines by Landrieu’s staff.

    They were either very dumb about it or were set up, if indeed that was their intent.

    Altering the incoming lines by the staff to prevent constituent calls may itself be a violation of law.

  10. Shannon, I wasn’t trying to suggest that O’Keefe can’t have been on the trail of something worth investigating here — just that if he did anything criminal in pursuing the lead, that’s inexcusable, full stop. Good lead, bad lead, doesn’t matter.

    On my first reading, I saw a lot more tu quoque in your post than I’m seeing when I re-read it now.

    And I was very angry at that idiot O’Keefe for handing the Dems a propaganda weapon to use against anybody who uncovers corruption.

  11. Retardo,

    Yes, I will be angry as well. It will be very damaging especially since the media has motive to shaft the guy who made them look like idiots a year ago.

    I was worried about something like this because getting a scoop like he did at his age is intoxicating and the urge to top it almost irresistible. Hell, even more seasoned people have fallen prey. Think back to Woodword’s ridiculous treatment of Bill Casey and his supposed death bed confession. Woodword never stopped trying to top or recapture his Watergate glory and he made himself a joke doing it.

  12. I am amazed that Shannon and others are unaware that prosecutors can paint a story to the media any way they choose. By Shannon’s presumption of guilt, this website loses its credibility as a realistic source on controversial events.

    Hint: Do not automatically accept the cover story you are fed about a politically charged event. That is what you have done, despite any denials you may proffer.

    Get the facts before you emote all over the blogosphere.

  13. Don’t try to spin this. We’re not above the law. Furthermore, unlike the left, we don’t even believe we’re above the law. When we act as if we are, we look like hypocrites.

    If we do nothing, we lose. Stop begin a ninny. We don’t even know what he was looking for yet.

  14. Yeah, there is an on-going political drama in the country and one could not just pinpoint whose who in this particular circumstances is guilty of, plus the sensationalized media presentation. I think we need undisputed evidences to make sure our speculation is on the right track.

  15. I have been contacted by Attorney General Holder to take charge of an investigation into this very serious charge against young republican terrorist O’Keefe. It appears that some rape charges may be in the offing, and that O’Keefe and his young friends (who may have once played lacrosse) asked a young african american lobbyist in Senator Landrieu’s office to do a strip tease for them.

    This story is just beginning, and at least eighty-eight professors from Duke University have agreed to sign an affidavit attesting that these wiretapping young racist thugs were attempting to overthrow the established order.

    This is why we need Black Panther security personnel to guard federal facilities and voting places. The racism in this country is out of control. To be a black man in America . . . . there are simply no words. Well, no, I’m not black myself, but I am willing to defend all the helpless and oppressed. That’s my job.

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