I haven’t said much about about the James O’Keefe case, but there is something about it that no one is talking about, especially on the Right.
According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, two of O’Keefe’s associates entered Senator Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans and tried to pass themselves off as phone company employees. They were wearing phone-company-type work clothes, including hard hats, and told office workers they were there to fix problems with the phone system. O’Keefe was already sitting in the office, saying he was waiting for someone else to arrive. When the associates showed up, O’Keefe began recording them with his cell phone.
One of the two “workmen,” Joseph Basel, requested access to the phones. He was allowed access to the phone on the front desk, and according to a witness he took the handset off the phones and manipulated it somehow. Then he and the other “workman,” Robert Flanagan, made some show of calling back and forth with cell phones to show that the phone wasn’t working.
After that, Basel and Flanagan were taken to the GSA office where the main telephone lines could be accessed. It was at that time someone challenged their credentials, and when the two young men said their credentials were in their car, it was not long after that someone figured out the two guys did not work for the phone company.
Based on this, Basel and Flanagan were charged with entering a federal building under false and fraudulent pretenses for the purposes of interfering with a telephone system operated by the federal government, and O’Keefe and Stan Dai allegedly aided and abetted these acts.
Now, all four young men are innocent until proven guilty, and it is possible the affadavit is inaccurate. On the other hand, there is evidence that laws might have been broken, meaning there needs to be a trial. I understand O’Keefe was ordered to go live with his parents until the trial. I assume the other three are out on bail also.
Righties have whined incessantly ever since that it is somehow unfair for these four even to be charged with a crime. So much for the rule of law. Even if you accept the claim that the four were journalists working undercover to get a story, that doesn’t give them immunity from the law. I know journalists sometimes use subterfuge to do exposes of things like bad food handling practices in restaurants or phony massage parlors, but we’re talking about a federal building here. You know, the kind of place terrorists like to case and sometimes blow up.
No, I don’t think for a minute that the four clowns were terrorists. I suspect they were trying to stage something that would embarrass Senator Landrieu. Even so, we can’t be tolerant of people entering federal buildings, or any other potential terrorist target, under false and fraudulent pretenses, even if just for a prank. This is post-9/11 America, after all. If only out of courtesy to fellow citizens, you respect security protocols and don’t ask for them to be lifted just for you. When we start to make exceptions, security is weakened.
It’s way past time for people like Ben Stein to grow up. There are some things one doesn’t do, like yell “bomb” on an airplane, even if it’s a joke. And you don’t pull a stunt like this in a federal building and expect a pat on the head. I don’t think the boys deserve ten years in prison, but if they are found guilty of breaking federal law they should get enough of a sentence to discourage other “pranksters” from pulling stunts like this.