Wednesday, January 27, 2010

“I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here!”

From Salon.com:

James O'Keefe, the 25-year-old who became a hero on the right by dressing as a pimp and filming himself and a female partner, Hannah Giles, exposing apparent malfeasance in ACORN offices, has gotten himself back in the news. This time, things aren't going quite so well for him: He and three others have just been hit with federal charges in an alleged plot to wiretap the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

According to an FBI press release, two of the men who've been charged, 24-year-olds Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, posed as telephone repairmen and "requested access to the main telephone at the reception desk ... then manipulated the telephone system." They also "requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system," the release says. O'Keefe was allegedly "already present in the office, holding a cellular phone so as to record Flanagan and Basel." A fourth man, 24-year-old Stan Dai, is -- like O'Keefe -- charged with having assisted Flanagan and Basel. All four face a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, along with a fine of $250,00 and three years of supervised release.

Though of course this is as yet just an allegation, it's worth noting that O'Keefe's actions in recording the ACORN videos at least skirted the bounds of legality. At least one of the states in which O'Keefe and Giles ran their sting has what's known as a "two-party consent" law -- that is, all those participating in a private conversation must be aware of and agree to any audio recording, including video that captures audio.

Lousiana Democratic Party Chair Michael McHale is quoted in the Salon piece as saying: "This is a Louisiana Watergate. Louisiana families are shocked and outraged that these men would break the law to carry out their political agenda with this Watergate-like break-in and attempted wiretapping."

And now…let’s go to the videotape…Wired.com, February 12, 2008:

The Senate overwhelming voted Tuesday evening to legalize President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program and grant amnesty to the phone companies that helped out with the domestic spying..

The 68 to 29 vote is a major step in radically re-configuring 30 year-old limits on how the nation’s spying services operate inside America’s borders. The vote also deals a severe blow to civil liberties groups that are suing companies such as AT&T and Verizon for turning over millions of American’s phone records to the government, and for helping the government wiretap American’s phone and internet communications without a court order.

Wait for it…

Democrats voting for the bill:
Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Casey (D-PA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Jim Webb (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

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