Looks like law enforcement and James O’Keefe’s supporters agree: he did not intend to wiretap Mary Landrieu:
A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.
The Washington Post, which this morning claimed otherwise, today had to retract that mistake — a grave error that Andrew Breitbart socked them for last night, and I socked them for this morning. Here is the relevant part of their embarrassing correction:
Earlier versions of this story incorrectly reported that James O’Keefe faced charges in an alleged plot to bug the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. The charges were related to an alleged plot to tamper with a phone system. The headline incorrectly referred to a plot to bug the phone and a caption incorrectly referred to an alleged wiretap scheme.
That’s the second O’Keefe correction by the same reporter. Time to retire her from this story.
So there was no intent to wiretap. Let’s dispel that idea now. Nobody is claiming he was trying to bug Landrieu. Everyone who compared this to Watergate was wrong, wrong, wrong — and should be embarrassed. Period.
The only question now is what he and 3 other men did intend to do.
The Government position is that O’Keefe & Company wanted to shut down Landrieu’s phone system:
Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O’Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.
That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt — to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn’t get through?
Nice theory. Let’s see if you can prove it.
Note that even the Government now believes that O’Keefe targeted Landrieu for the reason I previously highlighted — first last night (subtly, in UPDATE x4), and somewhat less subtly this morning — namely, her claim that phone lines were “jammed” when constituents tried to reprimand her for the Louisiana Purchase.
Always trust content from Patterico.
Me, I don’t buy the Government theory. I think Good Lt. has a much better theory. Playing off of my posts’ focus on the allegedly jammed phone lines, Good Lt. spun out a theory that I think makes more sense than anything I have seen:
I am postulating that the group was trying to document (with video camera) that Landrieu’s office had either disconnected or re-routed the phones to deflect incoming calls – hence, why they couldn’t get through. There have been anecdotal reports that Landrieu’s office has received complaints that it has been inaccessible by phone, particularly around the time when she was bought off by the Democrats for the now-infamous Louisiana Purchase.
I have a related theory that strikes me as even more likely: they came in to “fix” the “jammed” phone lines — expecting to be received by countless staffers saying: “What problem? We haven’t had any jammed phone lines. What are you talking about?”
Whatever theory turns out to be correct, I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I’ll reiterate what I said last night:
I’m sticking out my neck and declaring that I think this will prove to be a big nothing.
I just don’t believe this guy was wiretapping phones or trying to do so. I really don’t.
It might not even have been an attempt to show how easy it would be to bug phones. Maybe there is another explanation. But I don’t think he was acting in a criminal fashion. I don’t.
You can quote me.
That seemed crazy last night, didn’t it? It seems a little less crazy today, doesn’t it?
And it may seem even less crazy tomorrow.
Give it time. Hold your fire. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t make assumptions. Be skeptical. Wait to hear his side.
Sensible suggestions, wouldn’t you say? So let’s follow them.