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January 29, 2010

O'Keefe: Government Concedes I Wasn't Wiretapping or Interfering With Telephones

A statement at BigGovernment.

The government has now confirmed what has always been clear: No one tried to wiretap or bug Senator Landrieu’s office. Nor did we try to cut or shut down her phone lines. Reports to this effect over the past 48 hours are inaccurate and false.

As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose corruption and lack of concern for citizens by government and other institutions, as I did last year when our investigations revealed the massive corruption and fraud perpetrated by ACORN. For decades, investigative journalists have used a variety of tactics to try to dig out and reveal the truth.

I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill. When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.” I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.

Why he wanted to get into the telephone closet isn't clear -- it's possible, though I don't think likely, he wanted to do a visual inspection.

It's possible he didn't even really want to get into the telephone closet at all -- since he was posing as phone-guy, he would be expected to ask for access to the closet, and he may well have been just saying he wanted to take a look in order to keep the ruse up. It might have been his intention to just continue the ruse as he asked Landrieu's people if the phones had really been jammed, or were in fact simply not being answered at all.

I mean, if I'm posing as a Dog Whisperer, at some point I have to ask to see your friggin' dog.

A third possibility is that he had some kind of widget to test the lines' integrity/capacity/whateverity so he could report back "The lines are fine, easily able to handle large numbers of calls without jamming."

If that last one's the case, I still don't see how that could possibly qualify as "interfering" with the phone lines. Testing a phone line isn't interfering with it.

Still, there is the rinky-dink beef (and yes, I do think it's rinky-dink, under the circumstances) of entering a federal office under false pretenses. There doesn't seem to be any "malice" here.

What a judge will do with this, I don't know. I suspect this will be pled out for some community service. Because, if these are the facts, I have a hard time believing 12 members of a jury would convict him. Sure, the liberals on the jury will want to sentence him to death, but their passion doesn't change the fact you need unanimity And someone on the jury is going to say, "This is bullshit, they are attempting to punish him for crap Big Media does every week."

As someone else pointed out, Big Media routinely tries to smuggle fake explosives through airport security. Now, they're fake explosives, but I'm 99.99% sure there is some law on the books about merely interfering with or obstructing the work of airport security -- and giving them a batch of fake explosives to delay their work on real security inspections does qualify, in a ticky-tack way, as obstruction or interference.

The usual save here is that such laws demand "malicious intent," a vague sort of thing, but it's pretty clear the media doesn't have whatever "malicious intent" is supposed to mean. We generally say that exposing useful and relevant information to the public about the workings of our government is decidedly non-malicious.

So that should save O'Keefe, or at least save him from a serious prosecution.

The fact that he's tipping his legal hand publicly -- something lawyers scream up and down to never do (leave the government entirely in the dark about your defense so they can't prepare adequately for it) -- seems to indicate he's pretty confident of his legal position, or at least believes the consequences here to be fairly minor.

I hope he's right in that regard.

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posted by Ace at 01:10 PM

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