Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy

James O'Keefe, the wannabe investigative film maker whose cartoonish pimp sting at an ACORN office made him a conservative hero last fall, has been arrested in New Orleans and charged with intent to commit a felony.

O'Keefe's ACORN sting led to a feeding frenzy of conservative attacks on the urban advocacy group. His notoriety from that stunt led to him being invited to speak before the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a libertarian group in New Orleans. Promotional materials for the Thursday event hailed him as "a pioneer in the use of new media to drive these kinds of important stories. He will discuss the role of new media and show examples of effective investigative reporting." Monday, O'Keefe and three of his new friends were arrested trying to plant a bug in conservative Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's office. No doubt this was one of his "examples of effective investigative reporting."

O'Keefe and his co-conspirators entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building wearing green vests, tool belts, and hardhats and told the staffer in Landrieu's office that they were there to fix the phones--a classic gambit used in television and spy movies since long before any of the foursome were born. The unnamed staffer noticed O'Keefe filming the others as they messed around with the phones. After a few minutes, they asked to be shown the main telephone box for the building. Before they could access the box, a General Services Administration employee asked to see their phone company ID. They told the GSA employee, that they had all left their IDs in the car--a gambit familiar to every underage college student who has ever tried to bluff his way into a bar and one that never, ever works. Federal Marshals arrested them a few minutes later.

One of O'Keefe's co-defendants is Robert Flanagan the son of William Flanagan, the acting US. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. Flanagan's lawyer says his client works for the Pelican Institute. That makes it sound to me like O'Keefe met the other three after his talk and they decided to some documentary film making on the spot. In other words, the whole caper was planned on the spur of the moment, ineptly carried out, and, ultimately, unsuccessful. It could have come right out of the G. Gordon Libby playbook.

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