Patterico's Pontifications

2/1/2010

Retracto, Call Your Office!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:26 am



There is a certain wooly mammal that I’m sure will be interested in this, from the Greensboro News & Record:

Greensboro Republican Rep. Howard Coble, who has taken to the House floor to denounce the community organizing group, was one of 31 congressmen to co-sponsor Rep. Pete Olson’s resolution “Honoring the fact-finding reporting done by Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe III” back in October.

O’Keefe was busted last week and charged with attempting to bug U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phone in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans.

No, he wasn’t.

“When I signed on initially, I was very comfortable doing that because these two people exposed an outfit that was doing illegal things and using taxpayer money,” Coble said.

But he said that nobody should take his backing of the resolution, filed months ago, as an endorsement of O’Keefe’s attempted phone tapping.

Indeed, nobody should — since O’Keefe attempted no such thing. I have already obtained corrections from CBS News and the Washington Post on nearly identical claims.

Now it’s y’all’s turn.

The “O’Keefe accused of trying to wiretap Landrieu” meme that took off when the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that O’Keefe was accused of wiretapping — and then did a stealth correction, changing the language of the article without notifying readers.

Retracto, do your thing.

Should James O’Keefe Be Prosecuted? Should Ellie Light?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:15 am



If James O’Keefe wasn’t trying to take down Mary Landrieu’s phone system, should he be facing charges? If he is technically guilty of a misdemeanor of entering a federal building under false pretenses — but intended to commit no felony — should he be prosecuted?

Maybe he did enter a federal building under false pretenses — but doesn’t every Congressperson do that every day?

If Ellie Light (true name Winston Steward) is technically guilty of a misdemeanor for writing letters to the editor under a phony name, should s/he be prosecuted?

Start with O’Keefe. In a guest post here, Federal prosecutor Shipwreckedcrew analyzed the applicable statutes. The important one is here:

18 U.S.C. Section 1036. Entry by false pretenses to any real property, vessel, or aircraft of the United States or secure area of any airport

(a) Whoever, by any fraud or false pretense, enters or attempts to enter – (1) any real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States…shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is – (1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, if the offense is committed with the intent to commit a felony; or (2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both, in any other case.

Shipwreckedcrew opined that, if O’Keefe did not intend to take down the phone system, then

I would not be surprised if no indictment was filed — or if something is filed, that it is a charge under Subsection (b)(2) of Section 1036, which would be a misdemeanor. A conviction under that section would likely result in a fine and probation.

I don’t believe O’Keefe entered with the intent to commit a felony.

If he merely entered the public areas of the office, in league with people dressed up in costume pretending to be phone guys, all to make a goofy point about Landrieu’s phones . . . should he be prosecuted?

Maybe you support prosecution according to the strict letter of the law. If so, then I have news for you: Ellie Light committed a misdemeanor as well.

California Penal Code section 538a states:

Every person who signs any letter addressed to a newspaper with the name of a person other than himself and sends such letter to the newspaper, or causes it to be sent to such newspaper, with intent to lead the newspaper to believe that such letter was written by the person whose name is signed thereto, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Winston Steward violated this law by sending letters to dozens of newspapers all across the country — many of them in California. Steward lives in California, in a city called Frazier Park. Does the Kern County D.A. plan to prosecute him?

I sort of doubt it.

I do know one difference between Winston Steward and James O’Keefe. O’Keefe was searching for the truth. Steward was peddling lies.

Much depends on what O’Keefe was really up to. I hope we get to see that tape. But — depending on how the evidence shakes out — I can see how this might be a technical “crime” that isn’t worth prosecuting.

Hopefully we’ll get some answers on Hannity tonight.

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