(Additional early reaction rounded up by Ed Driscoll.)
Update 2/1/10: The report below was written on January 26, based on initial wire service reports of the incident, much, if not all of which came into dispute in the days afterward. As of February 1st, there are no allegations of any bugging plot in the FBI affidavit that was released early last week and a law enforcement official has conceded that the four men were not attempting to wiretap or intercept calls. Furthermore, legal representation for the accused has gone on record stating there were no intentions to bug the phones in the Senator’s office. PJ Media.com regrets having relied on the erroneous initial wire reports of the incident, and we are happy to present this correction to the record. So as not to completely airbrush our article into the memory hole, the original report follows below.
Conservative activist James O’Keefe has been arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service for allegedly attempting to bug the offices of U..S. Senator Mary Landrieu. Also arrested were Robert Flanagan, the son of a federal prosecutor, and two others.
O’Keefe and partner Hannah Giles rose to fame for a video sting against the community activist group ACORN. The videos appeared on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website. According to a report on Twitter, Big Government’s editors claim to have had no knowledge of events in Louisiana.
From a report in Hotline on Call:
O’Keefe gained fame and notoriety last year when, dressed as a pimp, he videotaped ACORN employees advising him and a female companion about running a prostitution scheme. The Times-Picayune reported that O’Keefe gave a speech on Jan. 21 to Libertarian Pelican Institute in New Orleans about investigative reporting and the role of new media.
O’Keefe is said to have been recording his alleged accomplices’ actions on a cell phone after they entered Landrieu’s offices dressed as telephone repairmen.
Flanagan and Basel were “each dressed in blue denim pants, a blue work shirt, a light green fluorescent vest, a tool belt and a construction-style hard hat when they entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building,” the release said.
After they entered the building, the two men told a staffer in Landrieu’s office they were telephone repairmen, according to the release. They then asked for, and were granted, access to the reception desk’s phone system.
O’Keefe, meanwhile, recorded their actions with a cell phone.
(View the four-page arrest affidavit here.)
Landrieu’s office is not commenting, citing an ongoing investigation. If convicted, the four men could face fines of up to $250,000 and up to ten years in jail.