If You Find Yourself Yelling "YOU'RE HOBBITS" You've Probably Lost An Argument Already

I'm not really a fan of conservative provocateur James O'Keefe. I've mentioned before that I find him creepifying. Though I've questioned the legal merits of at least one of ACORN's lawsuits against him, I'm not fond of his skit-based Michael-Moore-style approach. Eh. Each to his own, I suppose.

But please keep this in mind: if you are confronted with someone like James O'Keefe, whose schtick is getting you to act like an ass on camera, it behooves you not to act like an ass, unless you wish to put money in his purse.

That point seems to elude James B. Letten, a former U.S. Attorney who is now Tulane's "Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning," possibly because the position "Dean of Self-Parodying Academic Jargon" was already filled.

O'Keefe set out to interview Letten and hand him a copy of O'Keefe's new book, "Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy," which is currently number on on Amazon's "pathological self-regard" list. As near as I can tell from the coverage O'Keefe wanted to ask Letten whether the Obama Administration had pressured Letten, back when he was the local U.S. Attorney, into prosecuting O'Keefe for entering a Democratic Senator's office under false pretenses during a prior skit. Some might argue that responsible journalists don't investigate stories in which they themselves are the subject, but people who argue that probably don't get a lot of hits on their YouTube videos.

O'Keefe first knocked on Letten's door, asked Letten's wife if Letten was there, offered her a book, and then left when she refused. Then O'Keefe sought out Letton on the Tulane campus. Havoc ensued. Letten confronted O'Keefe in a thoroughly unbalanced, unprofessional, and embarrassing way, all — predictably — caught on camera. Letten said things like "[y]ou are a nasty cowardly little spud, all of you, you're hobbits," and “[y]ou are scum. Do you understand?” Letten repeated the "hobbit" insult multiple times. Letten apparently doesn't like hobbits. Is it the feet? The eating disorders? Is he a secret Sauron fan? Not clear.

Watch the tape. It's difficult to exaggerate Letten's dipshittery. He accuses O'Keefe of "harassing a former U.S. Attorney" and "terrorizing" his wife. But unless O'Keefe's tape omits some very extensive footage of bad conduct — possible, I suppose — nothing O'Keefe was doing can rationally be called "terrorizing" or "harassing." O'Keefe tried to get an ambush interview with Letten to make him look like a fool on camera in order to push O'Keefe's partisan narrative. He succeeded. Unless he went to Letten's house or office multiple times after being asked to leave, that's not harassing or terrorizing. Letten's bluster otherwise suggests a lack of regard for the rights of critics.

I expected the response to this to break down along partisan lines, with people who hate O'Keefe for political reasons suggesting that he was in the wrong and Letten in the right. So far I'm right.

I don't think O'Keefe adds much of substance to the debate over policy. But if people like Letten keep reacting like that, he'll keep doing it.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Aelfric says

    Ken–I largely agree with you, the level of aggression/bad behavior from O'Keefe on this one was very low, and Letten certainly didn't acquit himself gracefully. That being said–you're right, we're doubtless not seeing everything and it's possible there's more that makes him seem more reasonable. But, you have some special sort of experience here–how much of that do you think was occasioned merely by the fact that it was a former defendant acting creepily towards his former prosecutor? I know from the civil side that I have been creeped out by people I have opposed in court. It must be worse for prosecutors, no?

  2. says

    O'Keefe posts his full video footage alongside his edited version (perhaps after a slight delay).

    If nothing else, I'd like to see that become the new standard for journalism.

    But then again, I'm the same kind of person who watches and listens to all three different commentary tracks on Lord of the Rings DVDs. So maybe I'm just a Hobbit sympathizer.

  3. Grifter says

    The problem with hobbits is, of course, that they ride ponies, and hence are servants of evil.

    You see, the ponies don't take the hobbits where they want to go, but rather, where the pony wants the hobbit to go…and do the ground prep for the upcoming (inevitable) pony assault. So when you see a hobbit, you know that hell comes with him.

  4. somebody says

    Agreeing that it would be nice to see the unedited version of this footage. I'm curious whether Tulane had any justification for banning O'Keefe from campus.

  5. says

    "But unless O'Keefe's tape omits some very extensive footage of bad conduct…"

    Gosh, it's not like any of his prior tapes did anything of the sort, did they? It'll be a long time before O'Keefe gets any kind of benefit of the doubt from me. I assume a priori anything he puts up is deceitfully edited.

    That said, Letten should have just ignored him. As should we all, targets and bloggers and commentators alike.

  6. Damian says

    Showing up at his house unannounced with two buddies in tow might not exactly constitute "terrorizing," but it is thuggish behavior at best.

  7. CJColucci says

    Letten prosecuted O'Keefe. O'Keefe showed up at his home and was creepy to his wife. What do you expect?

  8. says

    @Damian and @CJColucci: Letten was the U.S. Attorney when O'Keefe was prosecuted and not, as far as I have been able to tell, the prosecutor assigned to his case.

    I note the suggestions in various places that O'Keefe was, in effect, threatening a former federal prosecutor. I actually am a former federal prosecutor. I'm not really convinced. (Defense lawyers are in far more danger from defendants than prosecutors.) Unless there's more to the encounter with Letten's wife than is on that tape, I don't think the encounter can fairly be described as threatening. They asked if he was there and asked if she wanted a copy of the book. If they had started interrogating her or blathering about his theories about how he was innocent, that might be a different matter. Taping it makes it less threatening, not more.

    With respect to "what do you expect," I'd expect him not to hand O'Keefe a propaganda victory by losing his shit on camera.

  9. repsac3 says

    Yeah, I agree with those suggesting that Letten's reaction has more to do with "creep I had a hand in prosecuting shows up at my family home" than anything political.

    And yes, how folks interpret the video probably does have as much to do with one's attitudes about O'Keefe and Breitbart and partisan politics coming in as it does what is actually on the tape. Who got whose ass handed to them may well be in the eye of the beholder, and all sides claim victory.

  10. Trebuchet says

    The problem with O'Keefe is not his "his skit-based Michael-Moore-style approach" or that his "schtick is getting you to act like an ass on camera". It's his blatant, callous, pathological dishonesty. Clark says "O'Keefe posts his full video footage alongside his edited version (perhaps after a slight delay)." I'll believe that when pigs fly. And not the Geico pig on the airplane, either. He's a pathological liar.

  11. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    I like the symmetry of this story.

    Standing on Letten's porch is terrorizing.
    A weak toss of a book at O'Keefe is minor assault.
    The Hobbit is associated in any way with excessive editing.

  12. Burnside says

    You know what I would do with those spuds? I'd boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew.

    Everyone immediately gets defensive when a camera is thrust in their face, but Letten was pretty over-the-top.

  13. Sivi says

    I have to agree with Anton, above. Dishonest editing of videos is kind of O'Keefe's whole deal, so it's entirely possible he's spent a bunch of time harassing or provoking Letten.

    That being said, I expect a lot of federal prosecutors feel incredibly entitled, with the whole prosecutorial immunity and whatnot, so that might explain his seemingly disproportionate response.

  14. Burnside says

    @Trebuchet,

    This isn't some theological debate about the existence of God, you know, where the truth can never truly be known. The full video footage of O'Keefe's stuff is out there. Disbelieving it is a little silly. That's not to say that disliking O'Keefe is not a legitimate thing, but Clark is correct that the footage is out there.

  15. says

    Letten's use of the "former US Attorney" card reminds me of Gary Heidnik's court statement: "I resent this kind of shit being done to a disabled veteran." What Heidnick meant by "this kind of shit" was his trial, conviction, incarceration and eventual execution for running a serial murder dungeon. Both of these guys abused their status as former government employees in an attempt to command deference that was in no way their due.

    It's a scummy way to chill dissent, but one that military personnel and civil servants get away with far too often. Giving such people latitude to pull rank is a mark of a nation of groveling subjects. A subject thanks Heidnik and Jon Burge for their service. A citizen calls them out for sullying their uniforms (in Burge's case, the Chicago Police uniform, too) by running torture rings.

    My guess is that James Letten went on power trips as a US Attorney; after all, Tanya Treadway is his colleague. My assumption is that he uses his office at Tulane to go on power trips, since I've known few college administrators who had a normal, healthy understanding of the connection between power and responsibility; most of the ones I've known have been grandiose dipshits to a varying extent. College campuses are great places for the videographer who would like to spend an afternoon documenting the official flipping of much shit. Still, as a former prosecutor presumably familiar with the case against O'Keefe, including the appearance that he and his coconspirators used family connections to get their felony charges for attempting to bug Senator Mary Landrieu's office reduced to misdemeanors and to secure lenient sentences, Letten should be able to do better than calling O'Keefe a spud-hobbit. He's turning into a subnormal with that style of argumentation.

    I'm waiting for O'Keefe to go after someone who responds to his ambush with a sonorous rendition of "The Wichita Lineman."

  16. C. S. P. Schofield says

    I frankly think that the comparison to Michael Moore is apt. People who agree with Moore's politics like his work and think O'Keefe is bottom-feeding scum. People who agree with O'Keefe's politics like his work and think Moore is a fat prat with the ethics of duckweed.

    Bottom line; either set-up based documentary work is legit or it isn't. And if you are targeted by such a documentarian, your best bet is probably to cordially invite him to piss up a rope and stand under it while it dries. Don't engage him and then lose it on camera; just tell him to go away. He. Isn't. Going. To. Give. You. ANY. Slack. "So and so wouldn't talk to us" with a helping of innuendo about what you are hiding is the BEST you can get.

  17. Burnside says

    @C.S.P.Schofield,

    Re:what he does at the end of the video with the Journalists. It's the only way to respond to that kind of "gotcha!"

  18. AlphaCentauri says

    There is a mention of a phone message. What message did O'Keefe leave to get Letten to interrupt his work day and come outdoors for the gotcha interview? How extreme would the deception have to be to get him to go out to talk to them?

  19. Tarrou says

    @ Trebuchet,

    The raw footage is up on youtube, I just checked. I would like to book a flight on your fastest porcine airliner to the Czech Republic for the fall festivals. You can believe or not, but I'd advise you to avoid making statements that can easily be checked like that. Makes you look like a hyper-partisan kool-aid aficionado.

  20. says

    @Mullash:

    @KenWhite: When you defend O'Keefe with a 'Damning with Faint Praise' defense, what did you expect to happen? Sparkleponies?

    I wouldn't expect anyone but a vapid, angrily partisan twit to view this post as "defending O'Keefe," as opposed to making fun of buffoonery and discussing the difference between tabloidesque assholes and harassers. We get refreshingly few vapid angrily partisan twits here. Other places may have more of them, I hear.

  21. Mullash Nasruddin says

    But you did. And the fact that you are unwilling to acknowledge it is your problem, not mine.

    Don't forget that tabloids do have the capability of telling the truth, albeit it in oblique ways.

    Lastly, partisan behaviour includes liberterainism-which clearly tars you with the same brush you like to paint non-liberterians with.

    Like excrement, your pronouncements have just enough undigestible nuggets to sustain life-but it's not a tasty meal, for it reeks with oodles of contempt.

    Bon Appetitit!

  22. Nick says

    @Ken

    Don't think I'd call your post defending O'Keefe, but it does go a bit towards blaming the victim. O'Keefe has a long and storied history of harassing his targets and then editing footage in a deeply dishonest manner.

    Not to say Letten covered himself in glory, but it's not really a situation any reasonable person prepares themselves for.

  23. says

    @Nick: That begs the question about Letten being a "victim."

    I suppose he is the "victim" of a partisan propagandist showing up and suggesting that he was part of some bizarre Obama conspiracy to prosecute the propagandist for something the propagandist pled guilty to. I'm not sure what kind of victim that makes him. He responded by calling O'Keefe a hobbit spud scum. I'm not inclined to think that makes O'Keefe a victim.

    Looks like he was taping the encounter with O'Keefe. If O'Keefe dishonestly edited it, hopefully Letten will release the tape to show how. If O'Keefe dishonestly edited the tape of his visit to try to find Letten at home, hopefully Letten will explain how.

  24. says

    @Mullash:

    But you did.

    Yes, I suppose I "defended" O'Keefe in the sense that I failed to criticize him according to a complete set of approved talking points. Surely I will suffer. With respect to your fondness for unsettling scatalogical imagery, I don't judge.

  25. En Passant says

    Ken White wrote Aug 26, 2013 @3:57 pm:

    With respect to "what do you expect," I'd expect him not to hand O'Keefe a propaganda victory by losing his shit on camera.

    Right off the bat I'm not so sure Letten was "losing his shit on camera."

    Just for starters, it appears that Letten approached O'Keefe, not vice versa. Letten was recording as well as being recorded. That suggests (though not proves incontrovertably) that he had already planned the encounter and his speech.

    Also, almost his first words were "You went to my house. You terrorized my wife. You're violating federal law, you're violating state law, you're trespassing, you're a nasty little cowardly spud. … Stay away from me. Stay away from my family. Stay away from my house. Stay away from this institution, … don't break the law. … I've got you on tape here, uh, telling me you are harassing a former U.S. Attorney. I got you on tape doing it… Got you trespassing on private property. Got you harassing my wife. …"

    Surely Letten is enough of an attorney to know that only if one accepts his coloring the facts of O'Keefe's acts as he did (eg: "terrorizing my wife", "trespassing on private property", etc.) could he make plausible accusations of violations of law.

    Letten's words appear well scripted, and emit the distinct odor that he is trying to build a case characterizing's O'Keefe's actions as crimes and pushing him into Jim Bell territory.

    Further, Letten has a campus cop detain O'Keefe. But the cop didn't arrest them because he apparently had no probable cause that O'Keefe was committing or had committed a crime.

    At this point I'm thinking that this stinks, no matter how obnoxious O'Keefe is, or has been. So, he trolled Letten. Letten bit, hook, line and sinker. And then Letten went on the offensive with not so subtle threats.

    At worst, well, maybe Letten really did leak O'Keefe's confidential attorney emails when he was a USAG. He certainly didn't appear to deny it when O'Keefe asked.

    My views so far have nothing to do with anything that O'Keefe said in his narration of the video. They have everything to do with the way Letten behaved. He strikes me as the kind of guy I'd be afraid to nod hello to on the street if I knew who he was and I happened to be wearing some political button he didn't like.

    But, I have a special heartfelt contempt for those who hold positions of power and use their authority to punish their critics. They seem to be quite practiced at characterizing expressions of dislike or distaste as threats. If you say "I wouldn't p*** on him if he was on fire", they try to characterize it as a threat to commit arson.

    That's what it appears to me that Letten did. So, without further evidence, my sympathy is with O'Keefe on this one. And I don't even like O'Keefe or some of his tactics.

    My views can change on the basis of more actual evidence than I saw in that video.

  26. James Pollock says

    "Letten has a campus cop detain O'Keefe. But the cop didn't arrest them because he apparently had no probable cause that O'Keefe was committing or had committed a crime."

    As a general rule, campus cops can't arrest anybody (except the same way any civilian can, because that's what they are.)

    Anyways, the partisan error appears to be assuming that if one side is wrong, the other must be right. This looks like one of those where BOTH sides are wrong. (I've never heard of either of these people before right now, and I plan to continue to keep my knowledge of them to a minimum going forward.)

    On the subject of the "full" tape being available… that says nothing about what they did before they started to roll tape.

    On the subject of "ambush interviews", there's a difference between catching someone unprepared and therefore, less able to lie from a script, and editing what they do say so that it means something different from what they meant to say. The first is journalism, the second, well, is not.

  27. Nicholas Weaver says

    As a general rule, campus cops can't arrest anybody

    This depends heavily on the state and college. EG, University of California PD has full police powers (and UCPD Berkeley is the regional bomb squad). Stanford contracts out to the county sheriff, so "Stanford Police" are fully sworn sheriff's deputies.

    So naturally I looked up Tulane: Yeup, a full police department.

    Which says that O'Keefe was not being enough of a douchebag to earn an arrest.

  28. freedomfan says

    Just a couple further observations on the points mentioned in En Passant's comment.

    The fact that Letten gets a campus cop to detain O'Keefe is an indictment against Letten in it's own right. A bit of advice for Letten: If someone's essential charge against you is that you're an authoritarian bully who uses his position to intimidate critics, then it may be slightly-less-than-genius to call in the boys with badges when one of those critics shows up with a camera. Just sayin'.

    The other thing is the "stop trespassing!" "stop harrassing me!" mantra reminds me of the corrupt officers who repeat the "stop resisting!" chant while beating the piss out of a suspect during an arrest. I know there are still some naive folks who think, "Well he must have been resisting, the cops said so right there." But, I hope that more and more people recognize obvious poisoning of the well when it occurs.

  29. James Pollock says

    "So naturally I looked up Tulane: Yeup, a full police department."

    I stand corrected. And by a simple Google search. I HATE it when that happens.

  30. Lee says

    I clicked through to the HuffPost article, and while I'll freely admit that HuffPost is unabashedly liberal, I see nothing in the article that supports the claim that they "hate O'Keefe" or that they are "suggesting…Letten was right".

  31. Mercury says

    <pSome might argue that responsible journalists don't investigate stories in which they themselves are the subject,…

    Responsible to whom? We’re talking about the likes of Ernie Pyle, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Bob Woodward and the best parts of Popehat here. Walter Cronkite is probably best remembered for his unorthodox personal conclusions on the state of the Vietnam war based on his personal experience.

    <But please keep this in mind: if you are confronted with someone like James O'Keefe, whose schtick is getting you to act like an ass on camera, it behooves you not to act like an ass, unless you wish to put money in his purse.

    It also might behoove you to not actually video yourself acting like an ass as James B. Letten is in clearly making a point of doing in O’Keefe’s video.

    Funny how we’re all expected to lay back and enjoy it now that it’s been made perfectly clear that every last datum of our personal existence is fair game for official scrutiny yet public officials themselves, their (our!) institutions and the governing class (broadly speaking) seem to think that very clear lines exist as to what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to the whole sunlight thing.

    This probably isn’t O’Keefe’s finest moment (surely there are bigger issues afoot just now) but he has in fact brought to public attention one or two rather important issues regarding government filth (not that it’s done much good) that “responsible” journalists have failed to take notice of.

    Sam Adams was probably a jackass too.

  32. Marconi Darwin says

    Unless he went to Letten's house or office multiple times after being asked to leave, that's not harassing or terrorizing.

    What if he went to his home just once, at a weird hour, and insisted on handing something to Letten's wife even as she refused it a couple of times?

    Letten having a short fuse and heckling back at a heckler does not make him a dipshit, just someone who is easily provoked by one.

  33. says

    "I suppose he is the "victim" of a partisan propagandist showing up and suggesting that he was part of some bizarre Obama conspiracy to prosecute the propagandist for something the propagandist pled guilty to."

    Actually, O'Keefe pled guilty to something quite different and far more minor than what he had originally been prosecuted for.

    And, for what it's worth, in my nonexpert opinion (not being a federal prosecutor) what he pled to was a bullshit charge too.

    I would be interested to hear a former federal prosecutor weigh in on whether the charge he pled to was valid, by the way. Given that he did not gain access to the building (which was open to the public) through false pretenses — he just entered and happened to use false pretenses while doing so, which feels different to me.

  34. Wick Deer says

    After the Abbie Boudreau stunt, I have tried to give O'Keefe as little attention as possible. Yikes!

  35. AlphaCentauri says

    I'd just like to interject here that "confidential emails" is an oxymoron if there's no encryption …

  36. James Pollock says

    "Sam Adams was probably a jackass too."
    The one that was mayor of Portland definitely was.

  37. James Pollock says

    "I'd just like to interject here that "confidential emails" is an oxymoron if there's no encryption … "

    Not if it's on an internal-only system. When I was a college systems administrator, I secured the classroom email system by the simple expedient of not connecting it to the Internet.

  38. James Pollock says

    "What is this "weird hour" BS, Marconi? Did you watch the video??"

    I did not, but what happened before the tape started rolling?

  39. Basil Forthrightly says

    @James perhaps that is true where you live, but here in Texas, "campus cops" tend to be as much real cops as any others, with TCLEOSE licenses, colloquially referred to as "Texas Peace Officers", just like the officers in the Dallas and Houston PDs. And I've seen such officers make several arrests, including one where I attended trial as a witness.

    The Texas way of policing does lead to some mild absurdities; back in the '80s there was a 3 mile long, 1 mile wide strip in the Houston area that contained parts of jurisdictions of:
    Bellaire PD
    Southside Place PD
    West University Place PD
    Houston PD
    Rice University PD
    Houston Park Police
    Texas Medical Center PD
    University of Texas PD
    Texas A&M University PD
    Houston Community College PD
    Prairie View A&M PD
    Texas Southern University PD
    Texas Women's University PD

    Since then, the park police were folded in the Houston PD (as were the Houston Airport PD).

    The PDs after Texas Medical Center are at institutions within the medical center; its my understanding that a couple of the smaller ones don't normally staff their small jurisdictions, relying on the TMC PD instead. However, during the G7 Summit in 1990, held at Rice University, officers from all these jurisdictions were present.

    Also, to complete the list, Harris County Sheriff, Harris County Constable, and Houston Metro PD are other licensed Texas Peace Officers with routine jurisdiction in the area.

    BTW, "jurisdiction" for police in Texas is kind of a soft concept, they have arrest authority for felony or breach of the peace throughout the entire state:
    http://pacs.unt.edu/criminal-justice/content/jurisdiction-peace-officer-texas

    And to make it Popehat-relevant, the jurisdiction issue came up years ago in the defense of a very drunk off-duty police officer who claimed that he was shot at on the highway in his private vehicle and therefore was righteously pursuing at high speed and shooting at a janitor of the Houston Chronicle on the way to work. Sadly, I moved out of town during the pre-game and can't say how it was adjudicated.

  40. says

    Many years ago, around when the first LOTR movie was getting set up for filming, I inadvertently offended my wife by saying she'd make a good hobbit. It turned out she had hobbits confused with Gollum. (At which point I insisted on reading the books to her.)

    Perhaps Letten suffers from the same confusion.

  41. Basil Forthrightly says

    @Patterico Just because a building has public areas doesn't make all areas in the building public, just as the sidewalk in front of my house does not make my fenced back yard public.

    O'Keefe and crew were caught trying to access the phone closet of Senator Landrieu's office, a secure space, through fraud or deception. It's not exactly like they wandered through an unlocked door looking for the bathroom.

    Personally, I think the determination that they had no felonious intent might have had something to do with the fact that one of the crew was the son of an acting US Attorney; I'm not sure an employee of CBS would have gotten charges reduced. Certainly when agents of the Church of Scientology planted bugs in the office spaces of Federal buildings, they were convicted of felonies for doing so.

  42. Basil Forthrightly says

    As to the "O'Keefe releases the unedited tapes" argument, I don't know what his practice is now, but the raw ACORN tapes for California were widely reported not to have been released to anybody until O'Keefe and associate got partial immunity from the California AG.

    O'Keefe has made 2 settlements on the ACORN tapes, one of which was a payout of $100,000; O'Keefe and partner Hannah Giles split the payment to the former ACORN employee. I can't find any specific information about the other settlement with another ACORN employee.

  43. Anony Mouse says

    I'm not sure hobbit is all that much better, really. Unless your wife enjoys being called short, fat, and possessing of hairy feet.

  44. James Pollock says

    "I'm not sure hobbit is all that much better, really. Unless your wife enjoys being called short, fat, and possessing of hairy feet."

    You left out lazy, and disrespectful.

  45. Timb says

    Three things

    1) Maybe Letten's wife remembers Joan Lefkow? Granted, she was a judge and not just an AUSA, but still, lots of bad people probably wish harm on most most AUSA's.

    2). What a shock to find Patterico here in the comments. As one of O'Keefe's staunchest fanboys, he must have gotten the fan club's text message and run over. It is sometimes a bit of a surprise to find a DA so willing to re-litigate a plea agreement. I'm sure he's very willing to do that in his day job, after he offers pleas on less than amazing evidence. Must be a reason he wishes to re-litigate Jimmy's conviction…

    3) Patterico's presence leads to an uncommon observation, but one which flows directly from the video. This desire for victim-hood. O'Keefe PINES for victim status. In this video alone, aside from Letten's wife, O'Keefe is basically attacking anyone with a speaking role and claiming to be a victim. The police "falsely detain" him; the newspaper's slander him, Letten commits "minor assault" (which is actually minor battery, so minor it insults the term), etc

    Letten himself does the same thing. He gets a visit from this jack at his house and a couple of phone messages. He obviously figures out that whatever meeting O'Keefe lied to set up was going to ambush, so he ambushes O'Keefe on the street.

    What the hell is the deal with being the victim?

    Ps who calls O'Keefe a hobbit when he has such a rat face? He doesn't look like a hobbit. He looks like Frank Burns from MASH.

  46. Luke G says

    Hey now, hobbits weren't "fat" per se, they were "inclined to be stout," they were basically supposed to be a shortened version of good ruddy English country folk. They also weren't lazy, they just preferred making crafts and cooking and having parties and gardening to industry and intensive labor.

  47. Pablo says

    Yeah, I agree with those suggesting that Letten's reaction has more to do with "creep I had a hand in prosecuting shows up at my family home" than anything political.

    There's nothing creepy about what O'Keefe was prosecuted for. It was political theater. And the actual charge, entering a federal building under false pretenses, ought to have every last Congresscritter in the dock.

    O'Keefe is annoying at worst. The only way he presents a threat is if he's caught you up to no good.

  48. Dan says

    Dyed-in-the-hemp commie pinko liberal checking in here. I completely agree with Ken's assessment of the situation. This guy is a huge d-bag. And what the hell does his title even mean?

    Also, he needs to learn one or two actual insults. I mean, "spuds"? "hobbits"? "snails"? Weak sauce.

    And of all the things you could call James O'Keefe, he went with "cowardly"? While hiding behind the cops?

  49. Pablo says

    As to the "O'Keefe releases the unedited tapes" argument, I don't know what his practice is now, but the raw ACORN tapes for California were widely reported not to have been released to anybody until O'Keefe and associate got partial immunity from the California AG.

    Nonsense. Full transcripts and the complete audio were released with each of the original reports on Breitbart's Big Government. (You Tube wasn't then what it is now, capacity wise.) They remain there to this day.

  50. rsteinmetz70112 says

    For what it's worth Letten was appointed by George W. Bush and not replaced by Obama, the Democratic Senator from Louisiana (whose office the subject of the prosecution) publicly supported Letten's retention after Obama was elected. Letten is credited with being the force behind the prosecution of several major corrupt officials n New Orleans and Louisiana including a former Governor and Congressman (mostly Democrats).

    Letten recused himself from the case of James O'Keefe and O'Keefe's three co-defendants.

    Letten is hardly the ideological opposite of O'Keefe, Letten is however famously volatile, and therefore a good target such shenanigans.

  51. damon says

    Let me get this straight.

    A guy know for "questional 'Journalism'" ambush interviews a self entitled bureaucrat and words are exchanged. Sounds like both came out looking like douchebags. So both are douchebags. Why are we wasting time arguing about this?

  52. says

    @Timb:

    2) What a shock to find Patterico here in the comments. As one of O'Keefe's staunchest fanboys, he must have gotten the fan club's text message and run over.

    Thank you for elevating the debate here at Popehat.

    O'Keefe PINES for victim status. In this video alone, aside from Letten's wife, O'Keefe is basically attacking anyone with a speaking role and claiming to be a victim. The police "falsely detain" him

    Are you asserting that the police properly detained him?

    Or are you asserting that you don't like O'Keefe stating true things that don't conform to your narrative?

    Ps who calls O'Keefe a hobbit when he has such a rat face?

    Thank you again for elevating the tone here. Please come back often and post good insights like this.

  53. says

    @Pablo:

    Full transcripts and the complete audio were released with each of the original reports on Breitbart's Big Government.

    Indeed.

  54. says

    Patrick! You magnificent bastard, I read your case.

    I would be interested to hear a former federal prosecutor weigh in on whether the charge he pled to was valid, by the way. Given that he did not gain access to the building (which was open to the public) through false pretenses — he just entered and happened to use false pretenses while doing so, which feels different to me.

    Sure, let's discuss that. James O'Keefe agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of 18 U.S.C. section 1036(a)(1):

    (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;

    He accepted and admitted to a set of facts supporting the plea.

    Now, as a defense attorney, I know that just because Mr. O'Keefe entered a guilty plea to something doesn't reliably mean he did it. It is somewhat unusual for a prosecutor to accept that proposition, my dear Patrick, but that's neither here nor there.

    Your question seems to be one of statutory interpretation: if the entire building is open to the public — subject to security checks — can one violate the statute by gaining access to parts of it by false pretenses, or by going through security on false pretenses?

    I don't find any cases stating the elements of 1036(a)(1) or analyzing this question. I think one could mount a colorable defense that O'Keefe didn't gain entry through false pretenses or aid or abet others in doing so. However, I think the stronger argument is to the contrary. O'Keefe admitted to assisting two people in entering the building and an office within it disguised as repairmen with hidden cameras. The staff of the Senator's office, based on that false representation, allowed one of them to go behind a desk and lift a phone headset on the pretext of testing it. His confederates sought entry — but did not gain it — to the "central box" of the office's phone system. Throughout this time O'Keefe recorded the interaction with the Senator's staff.

    Had O'Keefe's crew arrived with overt recording equipment, like a camera crew, security likely would not have let them through. Had O'Keefe's crew arrived in the Senator's office with an overt camera crew, the Senator's staff likely would not have left them into the office, and certainly would not have let them record themselves going behind a desk and using one of the office's phones. Moreover, the team attempted to gain access to a "central box" for the purpose of recording it. There is at least a colorable argument that this all constituted entering the building and parts of the building on false pretenses. Could a good defense attorney have convinced a jury otherwise? Maybe. Since he pled to it, we'll never know.

    Curiously, the factual basis statement does not say whether the federal building in question prohibits recording on the premises; most federal buildings do, so I infer that this one didn't.

    If your question about "valid" is meant to inquire whether I think O'Keefe was singled out, I think the answer is no. Feds have been absolutely ripshit, often to a foolish extent, about federal building security since 9/11, if not since Oklahoma City. If anyone pulled such a stunt I think there is a high degree of probability they'd be pursued.

  55. says

    I thought Letten's behavior was quite interesting, and revealing. The prosecutor/cop's instinctive reaction to any challenge from a convicted person is to immediately berate them using whatever terms of moral opprobrium come to mind, though I too wonder why 'hobbit' gets a workout here.

    The prosecutor/cop mind is acutely aware of the power of 'branding', which is what the criminal conviction accomplishes.

    What's disturbing, especially coming from a lawyer, is that the quick resort to an ad hominem attack is an extremely impoverished and invalid method of argumentation. Chest-thumping forcefulness doesn't change that; in fact, to a trained observer it merely confirms it.

    But by habit and years of career experience prosecutors receive positive reinforcement for just that kind of behavior and argument, and they become so habituated to it they then stupidly employ it in situations where it is more likely to be seen for what it is. They no longer see the problem, if they ever did.

  56. L says

    On a side note, what is the complaint about "Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning"? What non-jargon term would you use in renaming the position? "Assistant Dean of Externships and Clinics"? Seems a little clunky, and doesn't cover everything the position does.

  57. Chris says

    A guy know for "questional 'Journalism'" ambush interviews a self entitled bureaucrat and words are exchanged. Sounds like both came out looking like douchebags. So both are douchebags. Why are we wasting time arguing about this?

    Because it's fun to point and laugh.

  58. Basil Forthrightly says

    @Pablo, Clark

    O'Keefe took video tapes; the raw video tapes were not made available to California investigators until O'Keefe and Giles were granted immunity. It says this on the page labeled 2 (page 4 of the pdf), in California's final report, here:

    http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/press/pdfs/n1888_acorn_report.pdf

    Page 17 also says:
    "O’Keefe and Giles agreed to produce the full recordings if the Attorney General agreed not to prosecute them for violations of California’s privacy laws."

    The report also says:
    "Although O’Keefe is dressed in stereotypical 1970s pimp garb in the opening and closing scenes of the videos released on the internet, when O’Keefe visited each of the ACORN offices, ACORN employees reported that he was actually dressed in a shirt and tie.
    Also, contrary to the suggestion in the edited videos, O’Keefe never stated he was a pimp." (Although it's clear from the report and the transcripts that O'Keefe made obvious an intent to help Giles run a prostitution business, i.e. go into the pimping business in the future, to make use of his new law degree.)

    As far as I can tell, the raw videos are still not available on the intertubes anywhere; however, I've cross-checked material that the various investigative reports have referred to as being edited out of the released videos and found them in the text transcripts on breitbart.com, so the transcripts are likely complete – for the ones released.

    I was unable to find any transcript or sound files for Philadelphia; they're also not listed on the "ACORN Video Investigation Resources" page at Breitbart; that page is full of broken links, but the actual files all seem to be around, at different URLs. So they've released unedited audio and full transcripts for the videos, except when they didn't.

  59. repsac3 says

    "There's nothing creepy about what O'Keefe was prosecuted for. It was political theater."

    Can we at least agree it was a crime?

    And "creepy" is a former defendant showing up at the family home of a man who had a hand in prosecuting him…though yes, it probably is legal, at least to the extent that a "Team Kimberlin" member (for the sake of argument, let's make it one not convicted of blowing anyone up) showing up at the home of some of the writers/commenters here would be "legal."

  60. CJColucci says

    If O'Keefe and I had a history, like, say, my having been responsible for his prosecution and conviction, and he came to my house and pestered my wife, I wouldn't wait until his creepy behavior crossed the line into illegality. I would have told him in no uncertain terms, on video, to stay away from my wife, stay away from my home, and stay away from me. I wouldn't have bothered with insults — I think they take away from the implied threat — but that's just a matter of style points.

  61. miguel cervantes says

    How is that a crime, specially in light of what we have discovered about
    how this case came to be prosecuted?

  62. timb says

    @Clark

    Are you asserting that the police properly detained him?

    Or are you asserting that you don't like O'Keefe stating true things that don't conform to your narrative?

    "Falsely detained" has a meaning and the meaning is not when an officer, informed a crime may have occurred on private property, briefly interviews the alleged perp and, ascertaining no crime was committed, allows him to walk in under three minutes. Claiming anything else is just your "O'Keefe-esque" narrative.

    @Basil

    Pablo takes James's word for it. Always has. If O'Keefe said he did it, Pablo believes him.

    PS @Clark, forgot to congratulate you for attacking while pretending to hide behind the general non-partisan thing Ken has going on here. Just awesome work.

  63. says

    If a former defendant showed up at his home and spoke to his wife that right there has made things eleventy billion times more acceptable in terms of freakouts. After one of my best friends was killed via his career in law by an angry defendent (Mark Hummels, see here:http://omlaw.com/attorneys/bio/mark-p-hummels/) , I don't think this is something even worthy of one once of sympathy for O'Keefe. And I really hope all of my friends in law on this blog would take any meeting like this equally seriously. I would really, really hate to lose any more friends this way.

  64. miguel cervantes says

    O'Keefe's stunt was about investigating why Landrieu had not been responding to calls re the 'Louisiana Purchase' that secured her vote for the ACA,

  65. Pharniel says

    I can't imagine why breaking into a Senator's office to bug their phone lines could possibly be a crime.
    Especially not one who's sitting on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and
    U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
    [/sarc]

    If you posed as a repairmen for a company and tried to bug citibank, your local courthouse, my house or anywhere else that's pretty much something I'd like you to be arrested for and I can't imagine why anyone says they shouldn't have been prosecuted.

  66. Ashera says

    I would have told him in no uncertain terms, on video, to stay away from my wife, stay away from my home, and stay away from me. I wouldn't have bothered with insults — I think they take away from the implied threat — but that's just a matter of style points.

    Yeah, I don't get the indignation and/or mockery about Letten's meltdown. If O'Keefe wants to mock or otherwise engage Letten, that's up to him; I surmise he thinks he has cause. Dragging his wife into it his game is shitty on the face of it, and I think I probably would have had an extreme reaction as well, if someone who possibly bore a grudge against me visited my family home and interacted with my loved ones.

    That does not excuse Letten from dragging the campus cops into this embroglio. But I think it does give him some leeway in his verbal reaction to O'Keefe, however idiotic it sounds.

  67. LewsTherin says

    Grifter, you forced me to de-lurk just so I could tell you that "So when you see a hobbit, you know that hell comes with him." will be my favorite non sequitur for a while. Muchas gracias.

  68. Dan Weber says

    O'Keefe and crew were caught trying to access the phone closet of Senator Landrieu's office

    What a moron. He's like that guy who admitted to the national media that he wiretapped on Mitch McConnell (who has been the subject of a Popehat post before based on his posting about McConnell's Asian wife), in that he thinks it's okay to break laws if you are in the process of slinging mud against The Other Side. I acknowledge that what O'Keefe did is not as serious, at least because he didn't actually complete any putative mission to gain access to the phone closet.

    This should not be considered a defense of Letten. At all.

  69. miguel cervantes says

    Yeah, not like the gal, from Code Pink, who sneaked into a Senate meeting room and confronted Condoleeza Rice with bloody hands, oh they weren't prosecuted were they, in fact they were bundlers for Obama.

  70. says

    Dragging his wife into it his game is shitty on the face of it, and I think I probably would have had an extreme reaction as well, if someone who possibly bore a grudge against me visited my family home and interacted with my loved ones.

    As far as I can tell O'Keefe went to Letten's house and asked for him. Creepy? Very arguably. Not harassment or terrorism.

    Letten's wife answered the door. They asked if he was home and asked to give her a book. Is that "dragging his wife into it?" I'm not sure that it is. If they went to his home knowing he wouldn't be there in order to get her on camera, then yes, that would be dragging her into it, and would be even creepier. If Letten hadn't accused O'Keefe of terrorizing her, and they had run the footage of the encounter with her anyway, arguably that would have been dragging her into it, and would have been creepy.

    But I'm not convinced that it's "dragging her into it" if they posted the footage in response to an accusation that they "terrorized" her.

  71. En Passant says

    I just read Patterico's entire post. In that Charles C. Johnson interview Letten demonstrated that he is an even more abusive jackass than he revealed in the O'Keefe video.

    Pharniel wrote Aug 27, 2013 @9:14 am:

    I can't imagine why breaking into a Senator's office to bug their phone lines could possibly be a crime.
    Especially not one who's sitting on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and
    U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
    [/sarc]

    O'Keefe was not convicted of "breaking into a Senator's office to bug their phone lines". If you had read the factual basis court document that Ken posted earlier, you would know that.

  72. says

    @Pharniel:

    I can't imagine why breaking into a Senator's office to bug their phone lines could possibly be a crime.

    I think it was reasonable to inquire whether that was O'Keefe's team's intent.

    But apparently the government didn't find evidence of it. They found evidence that O'Keefe was going to do one of his skits to the effect "O hai this Senator says there's something wrong with her phones but there's nothing wrong with the phones."

    But don't believe me. Believe what the U.S. Attorney's office said, in the statement of facts they signed and prepared, linked above:

    In this case, further investigation did not uncover evidence that the defendants intended
    to commit any felony after the entry by false pretenses despite their initial statements to the staff
    of the Senatorial office and GSA requesting access to the central phone system. nstead, the
    Government's evidence would show that the defendants misrepresented themsel es and their
    purpose for gaining access to the central phone system to orchestrate a conversati n about phone
    calls to the Senator's staff and capture the conversation on video, not to actually amper with the
    phone system, or to commit any other felony.

    I'm all for criticizing O'Keefe — accurately.

  73. rsteinmetz70112 says

    In fact O'Keefe was one the people who made statements at the time about bugging the Senators phones and/or hiding video equipment.

    Oh and one of his confederates was the son of another USA.

    I suspect a deal was cut with the Senator's approval to make this go away instead of a trial becoming a true 3 ring circus, which would have served O'Keefe's ends better than justice.

    At least with the plea O'Keefe got 3 years probation.

    His plea was in May of 2010, a little more than 3 years ago, i suppose that's just a coincidence.

  74. says

    In fact O'Keefe was one the people who made statements at the time about bugging the Senators phones and/or hiding video equipment.

    Oh and one of his confederates was the son of another USA.

    I suspect a deal was cut with the Senator's approval to make this go away instead of a trial becoming a true 3 ring circus, which would have served O'Keefe's ends better than justice.

    So, basically, I am beset from one side by people who think that O'Keefe's prosecution was a political persecution for something that shouldn't have been prosecuted, and from the other side by people who think that his prosecution was derailed and his exposure reduced for political reasons (and, it seems you are suggesting, the government lied to a federal judge about it.)

  75. AlphaCentauri says

    "Hobbit" has such a positive connotation that all I can imagine was that he was trying to imply O'Keefe would have to grow up a bit to even be considered a troll.

    I've met people whose metaphors depend on multiple steps of associations within their own minds, so that the final product is incomprehensible to anyone other than themselves. Our family still jokes about some of the wacky metaphors I was treated to in an admissions interview in my youth.

  76. Basil Forthrightly says

    I was very surprised when reading the intent bits of the statement of fact; to me it seems far more effective as theater to present a series of constituent who are irate that their calls aren't getting through. Going to the phone closet seems naive and ineffective – both a great way to get caught and if that's avoided, a great way to get stuck with a person who doesn't know squat about what you're interested in (like a GSA guy or the office's tech wizard).

    On the other hand, it takes expertise and equipment to bug a phone system; at the switch, you often also need specific local information, e.g. which wire runs to your target, wether the system is digital or analog, and if digital, which of the many protocols it uses. Far easier to bug a target handset. 2nd best would be to eavesdrop in software at the switch, but you'd typically need login credentials, and line guys – which is what they posed – don't do switches.

    If the Feds couldn't find the expertise or equipment, I guess they'd have to fall back to believing the perps' statements of intent. Presumably they all told the same story.

  77. rsteinmetz70112 says

    I'm not suggesting the government lied so much as they did not prosecute as aggressively as they might have. Think Aaron Swartz as a counter example.

    Considering the probable cost of pursuing a weak case which would have inevitably been a media event playing right into O'Keefe's view of himself they decided they had better things to do.

    Perhaps the only evidence they had of O'Keefe's intent to do more than enter the office were statements by O'Keefe and krewe who I wouldn't deem very credible.

    I can't say the outcome was inappropriate.

    I personally would like to see O'Keefe and Moore share a dorm room at Club Fed with a pony.

    For what it's worth I live in New Orleans and all of this happened in a Federal Building literally across the street from my office. There was a lot of local coverage.

  78. princessartemis says

    Nasty hobbitses, harassed our Precious they did! Thieves! Trespassers! O'Keefeses, we hates them forever!

  79. rmd says

    @damon

    Sounds like both came out looking like douchebags. So both are douchebags. Why are we wasting time arguing about this?

    Well, does it make any difference to you that one douchebag is a dweeb with a camera and the other douchebag is a dean at a supposedly top flight university? If your answer is "no," then you're right; there's nothing worth discussing. But can you at least acknowledge that others might answer "yes" in good faith?

  80. says

    @Paul L:

    Your sarcasm is puzzling to me, given that further up the thread I said:

    Now, as a defense attorney, I know that just because Mr. O'Keefe entered a guilty plea to something doesn't reliably mean he did it.

    What exactly do you think you're arguing about?

  81. Erwin says

    @Ken And, when both sides hate a legal decision, I usually take it to be possibly correct.

    Regarding Letten, given O'Keefe's prior history, I'd tend to give him the benefit of the doubt until the unedited video is aired. Basically, I'm assuming that O'Keefe did nasty stuff off-air and then edited the video to make a perfectly reasonable response look ridiculous. Given that his other victims, AFAIK, were completely innocent of wrongdoing…

    That, or Letten and O'Keefe are trying to spread the word. Ponies aren't the ultimate evil. Hobbits _ride_ ponies. Just think. Who actually ended up with the Ring? Who rides PONIES – beasts far more evil than wargs?!@? Who were the elves running from after Sauron died?

    –Erwin

  82. James Pollock says

    "Just think. Who actually ended up with the Ring?"
    Did you not actually make it all the way to the end? Nobody does. The One Ring is destroyed, and the Elves take the rest of them West.

  83. timb says

    Oops, O'keefe altered the tape to omit this

    "O’Keefe, 29, was looking for Letten, who wasn’t home. But Letten’s wife, JoAnn, was. O’Keefe pressed his case with her, saying he needed to speak with the man that prosecuted him"

    I didn't see any pressing in that video…one of them is no telling the truth and one of them has a history of making stuff up….hmmmmm

  84. says

    @ Andrew Roth

    These statements:

    "Both of these guys abused their status as former government employees in an attempt to command deference that was in no way their due."

    "It's a scummy way to chill dissent, but one that military personnel and civil servants get away with far too often. Giving such people latitude to pull rank is a mark of a nation of groveling subjects. A subject thanks Heidnik and Jon Burge for their service. A citizen calls them out for sullying their uniforms (in Burge's case, the Chicago Police uniform, too) by running torture rings."

    Make Letten some kind of equal of Burge, which is, of course, fucking ridiculous.

  85. says

    @timb:

    You quoted something without linking or stating a source, which is an odd way to argue.

    I used Google on that quoted phrase to look for the source, which appears to be John Simerman at The Advocate. But Simerman doesn't indicate the basis for the quoted statement. Maybe a police report? It's not clear.

    It's certainly possible. How to interpret it depends on what "pressed his case with her" means.

  86. Vermin says

    "If You Find Yourself Yelling "YOU'RE HOBBITS" You've Probably Lost An Argument Already."

    What if I'm arguing that someone who is a hobbit is, in fact, a hobbit, and I'm doing it very loudly?

  87. says

    What if I'm arguing that someone who is a hobbit is, in fact, a hobbit, and I'm doing it very loudly?

    Can you imagine a scenario where you are winning that discussion?

  88. freedomfan says

    I am no O'Keefe fan nor am I a serious detractor. I think what he does is sometimes amusing and sometimes informative and sometimes nonsense. I know enough about how one can be made to look like an boob on video to know that not everyone who comes off as a boob really is one.

    However, it's a little odd to see so many comments of the "He's so creepy and if he approached my woman I'd go all Sopranos on his ass, too" style. Is there a vague creepiness in O'Keefe speaking briefly to Letten's wife when she answers the door? Maybe. But, the reality is that James O'Keefe isn't physically threatening and I doubt very much that he was trying to be, since that would undermine his intent. To those not looking to talk to him, O'Keefe is a pest, not a dangerous threat. I think that accepting the premise that it's appropriate to react to misdemeanor office building intruder O'Keefe showing up at one's door the same way one would react to a convicted murderer or a rapist is overplaying the "he's creepy" card by quite a bit.

    BTW, as an almost aside, it seems to me that most bullies are actually scared and insecure when caught without those things that give them power over those they don't like. That's how Letten's comes off in this incident, IMO.

  89. Ashera says

    However, it's a little odd to see so many comments of the "He's so creepy and if he approached my woman I'd go all Sopranos on his ass, too" style

    In my opinion it is entirely inappropriate for someone to visit the home of someone you consider your enemy (and who presumably considers you their enemy), for the express purpose of engaging them. It carries very strong vibes of "Haha! I know where you live! I know where your family lives! And now I also know when you aren't home!" So yes, this behavior strikes me as extremely creepy.

  90. timb says

    @ Ken

    I got a phone call and hit submit. Dang it.

    It was Simerman and he was quoting a police report

    http://theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/6520037-148/gonzo-journalist-charged-in-landrieu

    Here is the paragraph
    "O’Keefe, 29, was looking for Letten, who wasn’t home. But Letten’s wife, JoAnn, was. O’Keefe pressed his case with her, saying he needed to speak with the man that prosecuted him “for a crime that he ‘did not commit,’ ” according to the police report. He also offered her a copy of his book — a memoir titled “Breakthrough: Our Guerrilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy” — to give to her husband. She told sheriff deputies she refused to take it and noticed a camera pointed toward her from inside a vehicle as she shut the door."

    Sorry for the omission, but "according to the police report" is the source

  91. says

    @L

    On a side note, what is the complaint about "Assistant Dean of Experiential Learning"? What non-jargon term would you use

    "graft".

    "payoff".

    "back scratching".

  92. says

    @repsac3

    "There's nothing creepy about what O'Keefe was prosecuted for. It was political theater."

    Can we at least agree it was a crime?

    No.

  93. says

    @Vermin

    "If You Find Yourself Yelling "YOU'RE HOBBITS" You've Probably Lost An Argument Already."

    What if I'm arguing that someone who is a hobbit is, in fact, a hobbit, and I'm doing it very loudly?

    I think posing that question in this forum is another sign that "You've Probably Lost An Argument Already".

  94. says

    There are assclowns on both sides of the political divide and it behooves us to remember that if you keep your cool, be polite, never scream or berate anyone publicly, you will never fall victim to a "gotcha" interview.
    Polite referrals to your staff assistant to schedule an appointment, "No Comment" and do not accept anything offered to you by a complete stranger, you'll not end up on Youtube being an assclown.
    Sheesh, simple stuff folks!

  95. Paul Baxter says

    I'm vaguely curious to know what he has against Jay Rosen, though not really enough to look it up myself. Rosen, while leaning slightly left, has been a big advocate of bridging the divide between big media and independent journalism, and has generally been a voice of reason on all things to do with journalism and ethics.

  96. says

    @James Pollock

    "All hobbits are mortal."
    Thesis fail. Bilbo went West with the Elves.

    Thanks.

    It's almost as if you clicked the link in my comment and saw that it pointed to an explanation of the Undying Lands, wherein it is noted that Bilbo went West with the Elves.

  97. TomB says

    It's almost as if you clicked the link in my comment and saw that it pointed to an explanation of the Undying Lands, wherein it is noted that Bilbo went West with the Elves.

    I thought the #syllogism_fail hashtag was a dead giveaway.

    (OK, OK, I'm a LotR geek too.)

  98. James Pollock says

    "It's almost as if you clicked the link in my comment and saw that it pointed to an explanation of the Undying Lands, wherein it is noted that Bilbo went West with the Elves."

    There are no links in a syllogism.

  99. princessartemis says

    "It's almost as if you clicked the link in my comment and saw that it pointed to an explanation of the Undying Lands, wherein it is noted that Bilbo went West with the Elves."

    Ilúvatar might have something to say regarding whether or not the Valar can rescind the Gift of Death. http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Letter_154

  100. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    @Harry Johnston

    "I think the phrase used in the book was "hobbit-like."

    That's the phrase used by Gandalf. One of the appendices states he is a Stoor as fact. Of course if you accept the idea that the appendices were written by Merry or Pippin that information is still only as reliable as… Merry and/or Pippin.

  101. says

    @Mark: ah, a true expert. I fear I've never examined the appendices that closely.

    I guess I should have anticipated nitpicking, and phrased my original comment as "thought Gollum was the only hobbit" or something like that.

  102. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    @Harry Johnston

    Wasn't trying to be a pain – personally I think Gollum is a Gollum. Smeagol was a Stoor, sure, but is Gollum truly Smeagol? Is a Ringwraith a Human? Depends on your point of view.

    …or maybe I just like talking about LOTR.

  103. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    "The One Ring is destroyed, and the Elves take the rest of them West."

    The Elves take two west, pretty sure Gandalf takes one west. The other sixteen are destroyed, lost, or eaten.

    *Now* I'm nitpicking.

  104. says

    I don't find any cases stating the elements of 1036(a)(1) or analyzing this question. I think one could mount a colorable defense that O'Keefe didn't gain entry through false pretenses or aid or abet others in doing so. However, I think the stronger argument is to the contrary. O'Keefe admitted to assisting two people in entering the building and an office within it disguised as repairmen with hidden cameras. The staff of the Senator's office, based on that false representation, allowed one of them to go behind a desk and lift a phone headset on the pretext of testing it.

    So far, I don't see how anyone could plausibly argue that allowing someone to go behind a desk, or allowing them to handle a phone, could constitute someone "enter[ing" or "attempt[ing] to enter" any "real property." What are you "entering" by going behind a desk or touching a phone?

    His confederates sought entry — but did not gain it — to the "central box" of the office's phone system. Throughout this time O'Keefe recorded the interaction with the Senator's staff.

    Had O'Keefe's crew arrived with overt recording equipment, like a camera crew, security likely would not have let them through. Had O'Keefe's crew arrived in the Senator's office with an overt camera crew, the Senator's staff likely would not have left them into the office, and certainly would not have let them record themselves going behind a desk and using one of the office's phones. Moreover, the team attempted to gain access to a "central box" for the purpose of recording it. There is at least a colorable argument that this all constituted entering the building and parts of the building on false pretenses. Could a good defense attorney have convinced a jury otherwise? Maybe. Since he pled to it, we'll never know.

    Entry to the box, unlike going behind a desk, could be "entry" within the meaning of the statute.

    But…

    But I don't know that it's clear that he and his confederates actually "sought entry" to the "central box." Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator. Just because they said they sought entry doesn't necessarily mean they really did.

    I suppose the tape might have cleared that up, but since the judge ordered it destroyed, we will never know.

    But let's assume for the sake of argument that this might constitute a technical violation. Knowing what you do about the case, would you have filed the charge that he pled to? (And would you have filed the far more extreme charge of entering with intent to commit a felony despite the later-admitted total lack of evidence of any such intent?)

    To me, you don't have to like O'Keefe to understand what he was doing here. Clearly, it was not to tamper with the phones; nobody present had any equipment or expertise that would allow them to do so — or you would have heard about it. It was obviously the stuff of a prank. The fact that it did not necessarily reflect good judgment does not (to me) mean that it should have been the stuff of a criminal charge.

    Would you have pursued this case, Ken?

    If your question about "valid" is meant to inquire whether I think O'Keefe was singled out, I think the answer is no. Feds have been absolutely ripshit, often to a foolish extent, about federal building security since 9/11, if not since Oklahoma City. If anyone pulled such a stunt I think there is a high degree of probability they'd be pursued.

    That's not really what I'm asking, exactly. I can even understand a detention and consideration of filing charges. I just think that, once it was clear what he was up to, it wasn't really a security issue and everyone should have been able to understand that — that is, if they weren't fanatical and blinkered.

  105. miguel cervantes says

    It's curious how Rosen, refers to Blumenthal, Weigel and Klein, greater hacks can't be found, as examples to be considered also they are members of the journolist,

  106. EPWJ says

    Pat,
    I think the answer lies in the FBI agents report. Didn't Okeefe have a very good lawyer, so why didn't he go to trial and be vindicated? Why did the sentencing judge berate the prosecution for not charging O'keefe with more serious charges?

  107. MEP says

    Is "…in the fullness of time" another one of those markers of obvious douchebaggery? Does it belong in the same set as "Govern yourself accordingly" and "Welcome to the big leagues"?

  108. James Pollock says

    "The Elves take two west, pretty sure Gandalf takes one west."
    The Elves take Gandalf, and the ring he carries, West. They'd also collected the 4 remaining Dwarven rings.

    If you prefer more precise phrasing:
    "The remaining rings go West with the Elves; nobody in Middle-Earth winds up with any of Sauron's rings."
    Happy?

  109. James Pollock says

    "So far, I don't see how anyone could plausibly argue that allowing someone to go behind a desk … could constitute someone "enter[ing" or "attempt[ing] to enter" any "real property.""

    I guess I've worked in more places where "behind a desk" is private to the person whose desk it is. I can easily see where, while it's OK for the public to enter and be on THAT side of the desk, being on THIS side of the desk is not at all OK. It's not the same as, say, a burglary statute where there's "inside" and "outside", but it's more like places that have "security zones"… permission to enter an Air Force Base doesn't mean that you can go wandering down the flightline. For this crowd, permission to enter a courthouse doesn't grant free entry into judges' chambers or even the clerk's office.

    "I don't know that it's clear that he and his confederates actually "sought entry" to the "central box." Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator."
    Next time, they'll pick a ruse that doesn't require them to claim to be trying to commit a felony. If you say you're planning to rob the bank, you can get convicted even if you didn't have a gun when you walked into the building.

  110. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says

    "They'd also collected the 4 remaining Dwarven rings."

    There were only 7 rings for the Dwarves and 4 of them were eaten/destroyed. I thought the remaining 3 that were taken by Sauron were lost with him, but could be mistaken.

    "Happy?"

    Yes, my nits are now picked.

  111. says

    Next time, they’ll pick a ruse that doesn’t require them to claim to be trying to commit a felony.

    Please show me where they claimed to be trying to commit a felony.

  112. James Pollock says

    "Please show me where they claimed to be trying to commit a felony."

    Tampering with telephone equipment is a felony. I only have your word for it that that's what they claimed to be doing.

  113. says

    Tampering with telephone equipment is a felony. I only have your word for it that that’s what they claimed to be doing.

    Please show me where I said they claimed to be tampering with telephone equipment.

    You're not doing a very good job of being accurate with your assertions and implications. Is this common for you?

  114. says

    Pat,
    I think the answer lies in the FBI agents report. Didn't Okeefe have a very good lawyer, so why didn't he go to trial and be vindicated? Why did the sentencing judge berate the prosecution for not charging O'keefe with more serious charges?

    I think the second question answers the first.

    Hey, EPWJ, we're having a debate at my blog about what you meant when you said I insulted someone who did me a "hug favor." Would you mind coming over and clearing that up for us?

  115. James Pollock says

    "Please show me where I said they claimed to be tampering with telephone equipment."
    You claimed they were "seeking entry".

    "You're not doing a very good job of being accurate with your assertions and implications."
    I only used your assertions and implications. Now you find fault with them? Is consistency just not your thing?

  116. says

    Ken, is this James Pollock fellow always like this? This is three comments in a row where he has misrepresented simple facts, or statements I made.

  117. EPWJ says

    huge favor, somehow my keyboard is acting up – I tried to correct the post but it seems only on your blog, my keyboard cursor jumps as I type :)

    But I think you can figure out what I meant. I still cannot imagine why someone who decries his innocence at such length plead guilty in the first place?

  118. James Pollock says

    "You claimed they were "seeking entry".
    "I most certainly did not."

    Did you not quote this:
    "His confederates sought entry — but did not gain it — to the "central box" of the office's phone system."
    It appears to be written in English.

    "Ken, is this James Pollock fellow always like this?"
    Pretty much.

    "This is three comments in a row where he has misrepresented simple facts, or statements I made."
    I'll repeat, for your benefit.
    I only used your assertions and implications. Now you find fault with them? Is consistency just not your thing?

  119. James Pollock says

    "I still cannot imagine why someone who decries his innocence at such length plead guilty in the first place?"
    Sometimes innocent people do things that make them look guilty. Sometimes it's cheaper to take the plea deal than to pay for a full defense. This is one of the chief complaints about use of the plea bargain in modern jurisprudence… that sometimes circumstances force an innocent person to accept a plea rather than fight to defend their innocence (especially when combined with mandatory minimum sentences… "if you take the plea deal, you be convicted and have no appeal, but you can get probation instead of prison. But if you go to trial and are convicted, you would get x years minimum sentence."

    Of course, if you HAVE money, then spending some of it to avoid a conviction is far more likely, particularly if the defendant is actually guilty of nothing (or at least, nothing like what is being charged).

  120. says

    "You claimed they were "seeking entry".
    "I most certainly did not."

    Did you not quote this:
    "His confederates sought entry — but did not gain it — to the "central box" of the office's phone system."
    It appears to be written in English.

    Please tell me you did not just say that. Please tell me that you did not just argue that, because I quoted Ken in order to question his statement, that my quotation of Ken means that I am the one who asserted the thing I was actually questioning.

    Let's be very clear here about what you are doing, James Pollock.

    Here are the words you are attempting to put in my mouth:

    His confederates sought entry — but did not gain it — to the "central box" of the office's phone system.

    Those words do appear in a comment above. They were written by Ken. They also appear in a comment of mine, where I quoted those words in order to take issue with them. After quoting Ken, I responded:

    Entry to the box, unlike going behind a desk, could be "entry" within the meaning of the statute.

    But…

    But I don't know that it's clear that he and his confederates actually "sought entry" to the "central box." Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator. Just because they said they sought entry doesn't necessarily mean they really did.

    So, to sum up, Ken asserted that O'Keefe and his associates sought entry to the central box, and I quoted that assertion and disputed it, saying that I didn't know that Ken's assertion was necessarily accurate (because of the context in which the request was made, a joke video intended to embarrass Landrieu).

    Then you come along, James Pollock and say:

    You claimed they were "seeking entry".

    Which, of course, I didn't. I said precisely the opposite. I quoted Ken's claim to that effect and then disputed it.

    When I pointed out to you that I had made precisely the opposite point you claimed I had made, you reviewed the above comments, and apologized to me for misreading my statements and misrepresenting them.

    Oh, wait, that's not what you did. You told me that I had in fact said they sought entry, because I had quoted Ken's assertion that they had.

    You are, in essence, making the argument that any time someone quotes another person in order to question their statement, it is fair game to attribute to them the quote that they are disputing.

    That is not honest argumentation. It is a Troll Tactic.

    I have taken a little bit of time here to explain to everyone what you did here, not because I intend to convince you, but because, should I begin treating you with dismissive contempt henceforth, I want the other commenters here to understand quite clearly why I have that attitude. You have repeatedly misrepresented basic facts and my own statements, in at least four successive comments, and each time, when your error is pointed out to you, you look me straight in the eye and give me sophistry.

    I am used to this sort of behavior; it is the behavior of the Internet Troll. You have placed yourself in that category by your behavior — and henceforth I do not plan to reason with you, as doing so is obviously a fool's errand.

    The Internet is a frustrating place, because it is crawling with trolls, and decent people who want to give others the benefit of the doubt end up wasting a lot of time dealing with trolls. I won't let it stop me from giving strangers the benefit of the doubt — but once your trolldom is clearly established, pal, I'm done.

  121. says

    But I think you can figure out what I meant.

    No, Eric, I can't. That's why I asked. Whom did I insult who had done me a huge favor, and how? You? Ken? James Letten? Help me out here.

  122. Pablo says

    @BasilForthrightly

    O'Keefe took video tapes; the raw video tapes were not made available to California investigators until O'Keefe and Giles were granted immunity.

    But the raw audio was released publicly, thus the assertion that the video was misleadingly edited and that exculpatory information was withheld fails. The only terribly interesting things revealed by the visual portion of the recording belong to Ms. Giles. The full content and context are contained in the transcripts and audio. And again, you couldn't easily dump a half hour of video on the internet back then.

  123. repsac3 says

    "Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator."

    FWIW, I think it matters that they claimed to be seeking entry…even if it was just a part of the ruse, and they never intended to actually gain entry or do anything at the central box if they actually did get access to it.

    So no, they did not claim to be tampering with equipment, but they did claim to want access to it. How factual it is that they didn't intend to actually do anything there if they actually got access–while it's likely they did not, who really knows? (It's not as though they had no motive to shade the truth in their favor wherever possible.)–and how much that matters–18 U.S.C. section 1036(a)(1) talks about "entering or attempting to enter," not your intentions if you do gain entry–is obviously up to the reader's and to the court's interpretation of the statute and the facts of the individual case.

  124. damon says

    @rmd

    While for me personally, it's no, and yes I understand that some may say yes, can't we all agree that they are both douchebags?

  125. says

    @repsac3: If the issue is what their intent was, then how does a claim they made that clearly wasn't serious "matter"?

    You should rethink that one.

  126. rsteinmetz70112 says

    According to the FBI agent's sworn Affidavit signed by a Magistrate Judge individuals dressed as workmen complete with hard hats florescent vests and tool belts went to Senator Landrieu's office and asked for access to the the phone equipment. They were directed to a GSA office on the same floor as the Senators office. There they again asked for access to the telephone equipment. GSA employees then requested credentials which the "actors" said "were left in the truck". Upon further investigation it was determined they were not telephone company employees.

    If the GSA people they spoke to were indeed responsible for the telephone equipment, it is very likely they would know the technicians that routinely serviced the building. It is also probable they would not be dressed as described and would have worked for a private company.

    Assuming the FBI agent was not lying (and he cites 4 witnesses) that pretty clearly indicates an attempt was made to access the telephone equipment.

    If as some have claimed this was a "skit" why was it necessary to go to a different office and ask people not directly employed by the Senator for access to the phone equipment?

    This seems to fall squarely within the language of the statute, whatever the intent.

  127. En Passant says

    When you have shaved your own head with Hanlon's razor, Grasshopper, you will be ready to leave the monastery.

  128. Erwin says

    @James
    …I'd place better odds on me being bad at humor than on me not getting to the end of LOTR. That said…
    The Ring, destroyed?? That's what the hobbits want us to think. Bilbo wrote those books!!! HOBBITS!!! YOU'RE HOBBITS!!!

    @Ken
    Perhaps an example where I'm not clearly losing. :) Perhaps not.

    @Pat
    I dunno. Based on past writings, I suspect James is not a deliberate troll.

    Overall though, I've pretty much placed O'Keefe into my…suspect person category based on past behavior. So, between a complete stranger (Letten) and O'Keefe, regardless of filmed evidence presented by O'Keefe, I'll take the stranger's version of the story until demonstrably outside witness collaborate O'Keefe.

    Poor judgement on Letten's part though. He'd have been better off with setting up a camera and then going with 'no comment' and 'please leave'.

    –Erwin

  129. James Pollock says

    Mr. Patterico, let's start from the beginning.

    Again, starting only with facts stated in this comment:
    http://www.popehat.com/2013/08/26/if-you-find-yourself-yelling-youre-hobbits-youve-probably-lost-an-argument-already/#comment-1102495

    O'Keefe EITHER A) was attempting to actually defeat security protections on telecommunications gear OR B) falsely claimed to be attempting to actually defeat security protections on telecommunications gear as part of a ruse to embarrass a Senator. This is a matter of dispute in which you advance line B. ACCEPTING AS TRUE line B, they said they were attempting to physically access the telephone equipment.

    From this, I noted that perhaps next time, they will develop a ruse that does NOT call for them to claim to be attempting to commit a crime.

    And then, you went off on some kind of rant.

    Did they say that they were attempting to access the telephone vault or not? Did YOU say that they said they were attempting to access the telephone vault or not?

    What, exactly, was your original complaint? To refresh, it was "Please show me where they claimed to be trying to commit a felony."
    (Again, that would be the part where they claimed they were attempting to access the telecommunications vault)

    I'll point out that whether they had any skills or knowledge to alter the operations of the equipment or access its contents, the security of that equipment is dependent on its physical security, which they claimed (perhaps falsely, as you infer) to be trying to defeat. Either way, a better ruse would be one where you DIDN'T have to claim to be attempting a criminal act, because they just might take your word for what you were trying to do, and convict you of the criminal act you claimed you were attempting when you were caught taking actions consistent with the act you were claiming, yes?

    Never mind, you're boring and your fake outrage is weak.

  130. Owen says

    Patterico:

    You said:

    But I don't know that it's clear that he and his confederates actually "sought entry" to the "central box." Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator. Just because they said they sought entry doesn't necessarily mean they really did.

    James Pollock said:

    Next time, they'll pick a ruse that doesn't require them to claim to be trying to commit a felony.

    Assuming (without requiring me to do any research) that gaining access to the control room to tamper with the phones is a felony, I think you're being less than fair when you say that James is way off base. From the second sentence in the quote of your language above, you agree that "[c]ertainly, they claimed to be seeking entry." So why all of the outrage? Is it your position that the quoted sentence does not agree that they claimed to be seeking entry? Or is it your position that such entry, if true, would not be a colorable felony?

    It's possible that in the flurry of posts and crossposts you were a bit confused by his position, but one would have to be viewing his statements rather uncharitably in order to come to the conclusion that it was entirely without any basis. Whether they actually committed or attempted to commit any felony, I take no position on – but I do think that it's appropriate to take them at their word, especially considering that a party's admission of such conduct would be admissible evidence according to the FRE.

  131. Personanongrata says

    It is always an impressive sight to witness a grown-man lose control of his emotions in public.

  132. Basil Forthrightly says

    @Pablo

    I decline to follow along as you shift the goalposts to argue that video with audio is equivalent to audio only.

    Good day.

  133. says

    @Will:

    I was not arguing that Letten and Burge are moral equals. My argument was about an underlying habit of reflexive, thoughtless deference to military and law enforcement personnel that I believe contributed both to Burge's campaign of forced confessions through torture and Letten's attempt to chill dissent by asserting his status as a former federal prosecutor. There's no reason that the same habit of servility can't embolden one government official to be merely pompous, censorious and grandiose and embolden another to be psychopathically violent. In the same environment of license and undue deference, different people will go to very different lengths of evil, anywhere from milquetoast and annoying to stone cold psychopathic.

    To put it another way, Gary Heidnik probably would not have made his ridiculous statement about deserving better treatment as a disabled veteran if disabled veteran's status hadn't been so sought-after and revered in veterans' circles. WWII vets tend to regard this grievance-mongering as an unseemly sort of malingering, but Vietnam veterans (Boomers, for those who'd like a side of generational war) widely regard it as a holy grail. There is a huge cottage industry in veterans' circles devoted to exaggerating and fabricating disability claims and exalting those who claim disabled veteran's status. I'd be amazed if that didn't play into Heidnik's claim of resentment. Similarly, Jon Burge probably would have been caught early on if his commanders, internal affairs, elected officials, and the public at large (rather than just black convicts whom he had railroaded and their loved ones) had regarded the police as fallible and corruptible and made an effort to root out bad cops rather than taking them at their word on account of their status as police officers.

    Censorious assertions of prosecutorial privilege like Letten's are rarer, but I'd argue that they're encouraged by exactly the same assumption that anyone who wields the official whip hand over the bad guys is automatically in the right. What's revered isn't government power per se, but punitive government power. This is Vengeful-God-of-the-Old-Testament stuff. I'd be surprised to hear of a teacher, public defender, firefighter, vital records clerk, or public works engineer using that kind of thank-me-for-my-service card, or having it used on his behalf by some third-party asshat pushing a devious social control.

    This servility to government avengers is ingrained to the point of being subconscious for many people. Its pernicious effects are wide and deep.

  134. EPWJ says

    Pat

    1st sorry for the delay…..

    "UPDATE: Ken from Popehat makes the sound point that we can’t necessarily infer that McConnell’s bugger won’t be prosecuted just because he confessed in writing at Salon.com months ago and has yet to be prosecuted. The Feds have a way of delaying action to such a degree that is mystifying to mere mortals."

    was that last sentence really necessary? And why at all? Ken has his opinion and you have yours – Didn't Ken just represent your family in a suit against you? The contortions you go through to justify the wild ups and downs of O'keefe makes me dizzy. Even Andrew as others did – cut him loose.

    You said he shouldn't have gone to Letten's house, where is your line in the sand?

    Seriously, just reread the affidavit and am mystified as to why James confess and agreed to be a criminal and be placed under supervision for several years if he was innocent?

  135. TomB says

    Seriously, just reread the affidavit and am mystified as to why James confess and agreed to be a criminal and be placed under supervision for several years if he was innocent?

    Eric, you were asked over at Pat's place a question; are all persons who plead guilty to a misdeameanor when originally charged with a felony actually guilty of a crime?"

    If so, how?

  136. Sami says

    O'Keefe is sleazy and disgusting. I am wholly opposed to all of his politics that I know of, but if he were doing his schtick on the same side as I am I'd still find him contemptible. Hyping up the psychotic paranoia and falsehood that drives too much of American politics (and which is a disease that seems to be spreading to other countries) is an active disservice to democracy.

    When you let him get a reaction that's anything other than "calm, polite, yet faintly contemptuous" he wins.

    Having said that: good grief, could he possibly go for softer targets? Minor charitable agencies and minor officials turned university wankers. Forget the rest of his attention-whoring bullshit, he's such a pussy he has to eat with a cardboard applicator. Why does anyone pay attention to him?

  137. says

    EPWJ:

    was that last sentence really necessary? And why at all? Ken has his opinion and you have yours – Didn't Ken just represent your family in a suit against you?

    Wait a minute. Is this what you meant over at Patrick's blog about an insult? Do you think Patrick is insulting me?

    That's ridiculous. Patrick is disagreeing with me on some issues. This is good, and healthy. Patrick is also accurately characterizing federal criminal practice, and in effect agreeing with me on that point.

    You're flailing around looking for some sort of tumult where there is none. What's your issue? Are you quite well?

  138. Some Random Guy says

    @Personanongrata: do you mean Letten or Patterico?

    @Patterico: from what I've been reading here over the past few months James Pollock is somewhat less trollish than Clark. YMMV.

  139. James Pollock says

    "are all persons who plead guilty to a misdeameanor when originally charged with a felony actually guilty of a crime?""
    If the judge accepts the plea, yes.

    One of the bummers about pleading guilty to a crime is that people WILL think you were guilty of a crime. Take that into account when deciding your plea.

  140. En Passant says

    @Some Random Guy: Trolling is a fine and extremely subtle art, to which many are called but few are chosen.

    To accurately assess trolling requires much more than a few months' observations. It may take years or longer, just as observations spanning centuries are required to measure the almost imperceptible flow of glass to the bottom of ancient cathedral windows.

  141. says

    Pollock,

    O'Keefe EITHER A) was attempting to actually defeat security protections on telecommunications gear OR B) falsely claimed to be attempting to actually defeat security protections on telecommunications gear as part of a ruse to embarrass a Senator. This is a matter of dispute in which you advance line B.

    False. I advance C: O'Keefe falsely claimed to be trying to fix Landrieu's phones. He neither tried to gain illegal access nor claimed to be. This is truly not a difficult concept. I do not find it accidental that you have misstated my assertion at least four times now. You're either doing it deliberately or you're just too thick to grasp this very simple distinction. Either way, you are a waste of every sincere person's time.

    I'm still a little staggered by your tactic of attributing to me a quote of Ken's that I quoted simply to dispute. The longer you pretend like it was A-OK for you to do that, the more trollish and dishonest you appear.

    Owen,

    Do you understand the difference between claiming to seek entry (for the claimed purpose of fixing phones) and claiming to enter for the purpose of committing a felony? You do understand those are different, right?

    Do we need a refresher on what O'Keefe was trying to accomplish with this video? It seems a couple of people are totally unclear on the concept. Landrieu was claiming to be unable to return angry constituent calls because of problems with her phone system. O'Keefe was showing that the phones were fine. Does that clear it up? Whether you agree with the stunt or not, it is actually very simple to understand it.

  142. says

    EPWJ,

    Hopefully it is now crystal clear to you that I neither intended to insult Ken nor succeeded in doing so. I'll be over here holding my breath waiting for your apology and that of serial misrepresenter Pollock.

  143. repsac3 says

    @patterico

    "Do you understand the difference between claiming to seek entry (for the claimed purpose of fixing phones) and claiming to enter for the purpose of committing a felony? You do understand those are different, right?"

    Under the 18 U.S.C. section 1036(a)(1), their motive for dressing up as telephone repairmen and requesting access to the central telephone servers (by fraud or pretense, attempting to enter real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States) seems not to be at issue. It may be an interesting ethical question–and one might argue that their ends justify or to some measure mitigate or wholly excuse their means if one is so inclined–but the statute itself is pretty clear.

    "But I don't know that it's clear that he and his confederates actually "sought entry" to the "central box." Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry — but that was part of a ruse designed to embarrass the Senator. Just because they said they sought entry doesn't necessarily mean they really did."

    I just think it's hard to argue that they "certainly claimed to be seeking entry" (by requesting entry of the office employees while dressed as telephone repairmen, which they were not), but that they "didn't really seek entry" under false pretenses when they did so.

  144. TomB says

    One of the bummers about pleading guilty to a crime is that people WILL think you were guilty of a crime. Take that into account when deciding your plea.

    Thank God JP comes along to not answer the question.

    What was that about "a waste of every sincere person's time."?

  145. Luke says

    @Patterico –

    B) falsely claimed to be attempting to actually defeat security protections on telecommunications gear as part of a ruse to embarrass a Senator. (James Pollock)

    I advance C: O'Keefe falsely claimed to be trying to fix Landrieu's phones.(Patterico)

    C implies B. In order to falsely claim to be trying to fix the phones, he would also be falsely claiming to attempt to defeat the security around said phones. It would not be possible to fix the phones at the phone box without first bypassing the security.

  146. Some Random Guy says

    @En Passant: you are very much correct about identifying trolls (though perhaps less so about glass). I was only commenting on trollishness, or trollish behaviour if you prefer. Patterico could be said to be displaying it as well, but I wouldn't call him a troll either (at least not yet). I do suspect, though, that Patterico is unlikely to appreciate the irony of his apparent affliction with the same sort of hubris or sense of entitlement for which Letten has been criticised upthread. Or do you suppose we should apply Hanlon's shaving implement in this case?

  147. says

    "C implies B "

    My whole point is that it did not, necessarily.

    When I say O'Keefe claimed to be seeking entry to the central box, I am saying he (or confederates) told people he wanted access to the box. But maybe he did not actually want or seek access; saying he did was part of the ruse.

    Even if he did actually want access to the box, it wasn't for purposes of tampering with phones, but to make a more visually effective video about how the phones were fine. He and his confederates had no equipment to tamper with anything. So even if we concede that he actually did seek access to the box, that would possibly make him very technically guilty of the bullshit misdemeanor, and not the felony for which he was initially charged and for which the Feds had zero evidence.

  148. says

    @En Passant: you are very much correct about identifying trolls (though perhaps less so about glass). I was only commenting on trollishness, or trollish behaviour if you prefer. Patterico could be said to be displaying it as well, but I wouldn't call him a troll either (at least not yet). I do suspect, though, that Patterico is unlikely to appreciate the irony of his apparent affliction with the same sort of hubris or sense of entitlement for which Letten has been criticised upthread. Or do you suppose we should apply Hanlon's shaving implement in this case?

    Why, yes, my behavior in this thread has been almost exactly like Letten's. By objecting to a commenter serially and snidely misstating my position, I was acting exactly like a former prosecutor who screams at people that they are are hobbits and spuds and throws an object at one of them. How could I have failed to appreciate the irony of such a spot-on comparison? Truly your comment is a model of level-headed debate.

  149. Luke says

    @Patterico – "But maybe he did not actually want or seek access; saying he did was part of the ruse."

    I agree that this is possible. It would mean that if during the course of the ruse he was granted access to the box he or another member of the group would not have gone in to film it. I just don't see that happening. Based on his goals for this video, do you believe that if O'Keefe had been given access to the box that he or one of his associates would NOT have gone in to film it?

    And yes, the felony charge was absolute bullshit. Overcharging sadly seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

  150. repsac3 says

    I don't know about anybody else, but I just changed my emergency contact for "lawyer to call when I'm absolutely, positively guilty as sin."

    "Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore."

  151. James Pollock says

    "objecting to a commenter serially and snidely misstating my position"

    I never went near your position (which, at the risk of more fake outrage, I will summarize as "they should never have been charged, much less had their plea accepted).

    Do you apply the same reasoning skills in your day job?
    "Well, yes, he DID have a mask over his face when he entered the bank, and he DID tell people he was planning to rob the bank, but what he was really trying to do was embarrass the bank manager, so charging him would be a mistake."

    See? THAT'S what snidely mis-stating your position looks like.

    Cue fake outrage.

  152. Owen says

    Patterico:

    Do you understand the difference between claiming to seek entry (for the claimed purpose of fixing phones) and claiming to enter for the purpose of committing a felony? You do understand those are different, right?

    Alright, now we get to the crux of your issue. It appears that you are misinterpreting both mine and James Pollock's statements and moving the goal posts a bit. I'll remind you that you said, "Certainly, they claimed to be seeking entry." James Pollock said that they, "claim[ed] to be trying to commit a felony."

    Now, you appear to be stating that there is a difference between "claiming to seek entry" and "claiming to seek entry for the purposes of a felony." No doubt there is a difference – but that is not what either James Pollock or I said. We asserted that they "claimed to be trying to commit a felony". We did not say that they "claimed to be seeking entry with the purpose of committing a felony."

    The fact that they sought entry under false pretenses (if true) is a felony in itself under 18 USC 1036(a)(1). That statute provides:

    (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

    Notably, there does not need to be any "purpose of committing a felony" inside – the felony is the seeking entry under false pretenses, regardless of the purpose. Their purpose could be to deliver a birthday card, or to try to find better cell service, or, yes, to "fix" telephones. The purpose dose not matter. Does that clear it up? You do understand those are different, right?

    So, we have established that you agree that "[c]ertainly, they claimed to be seeking access." That satisfies the first element of "enters or attempts to enter" under the statute. Therefore, to argue with a straight face that they did not claim to be committing a felony, you would have to either argue that: A) they were not acting with any fraud or false pretenses, or B) the property did not belong, in whole or in part, to the United States. Considering that they did so while impersonating telephone repairmen, option A seems like a tough sell. As to option B, well, I can't show you the property deed, but I think it's a safe assumption that the U.S. owns the building.

    Please let me know what it is that you're actually arguing, and keep in mind that whether or not they actually did do so is not the topic of the debate. We have asserted that they "claimed to be trying to commit a felony," and you have agreed that they did claim that act. So the remainder of the debate is only whether or not the act that they claimed to be attempting would be a colorable felony. And please, this time, actually answer my questions, instead of responding with sarcastic/facetious statements that don't address the issue. :)

  153. Owen says

    Actually, upon second examination, I note that I skipped a part of my analysis in the punishment. Entering without intent to commit a felony is only punishable as a misdemeanor; entering with intent to commit a felony is punishable as a felony. Though I think it's still arguable that tampering with phone systems is a felony, say under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, I will correspondingly eat humble pie and bow out of the conversation.

  154. says

    The fact that they sought entry under false pretenses (if true) is a felony in itself under 18 USC 1036(a)(1).

    No, it isn't. Maybe this is why your arguments seem so confused. It is a felony only if they entered with the intent to commit a felony. If they did not enter with the intent to commit a felony, the fraudulent entry is a six-month misdemeanor.

    Look it up.

    You and James Pollock say O'Keefe “claim[ed] to be trying to commit a felony.” What's more, Pollock claims that I admitted that O'Keefe claimed to be trying to commit a felony. That is utterly and completely false. There is not a speck of evidence, not a speck, that O'Keefe intended to commit any felony. The US attorney admitted as much and a signed document that can link above. You might try reading it. You might learn something if you did.

    Not only is there absolutely no evidence that O'Keefe intended to commit any felony, he also never claimed that he was going to commit a felony. What's more, I never said that he claimed he was going to commit a felony.

    Yet Pollock claims over and over that I did. He even cites an instance where I quoted an argument in order to dispute it as evidence that I agreed with the argument I was disputing. (!)

    If you don't like what I'm arguing, that's fine. Make your argument. But please don't try to put words in my mouth.

  155. says

    Our comments crossed. I see you just acknowledged this, although I wish you would also acknowledge how your error relates to Pollock's constant misstatement of my position.

  156. says

    never went near your position…

    That's the most accurate thing you have said in the entire thread, James Pollock. The numerous times you claimed to state my position, you were nowhere near it.

    Do you apply the same reasoning skills in your day job?

    What reasoning skills? Assessing the most likely defense based on the circumstances and evidence, and determining whether it is reasonable? What's wrong with that?

  157. En Passant says

    Some Random Guy wrote Aug 29, 2013 @6:44 am:

    @En Passant: you are very much correct about identifying trolls (though perhaps less so about glass).

    Your tentative nibble at what I thought was my patently obvious troll (the glass, which I presented as an unnecessary example to illustrate my primary assertion) demonstrates at least two things:

    First, to positively identify intentional trolling is not always easy, even when major indicia of trolling are readily apparent.

    Second, one's sense of manners and diplomacy tend to attenuate one's responses even to apparently obvious intentional trolling. When Hanlon's razor fails to resolve ambiguity, the polite tend not to respond immediately "are you stupid, or are you just being an ass?"

    As for your points about Patterico, I certainly agree that he is not trolling or "trollish". I think the views he presents here are consistent with the views I have seen him present at his blog for years.

    But I do not think by any stretch that Patterico exhibits here "the same sort of hubris or sense of entitlement for which Letten has been criticised upthread." Agree with him or not, he has not called the cops to detain his interlocutors, or accused them of crimes, or called them bizarre names, or shouted rants at them.

    He is in fact, arguing a relatively subtle legal point, which some who are not versed in law appear unable to comprehend. Whether that incomprehension is ingenuous ignorance about law, or due to intentional ignorance or misrepresentation of law, is not always an easy call. Hanlon's razor is not always easy to apply.

    But when one versed in law begins to conjecture trolling after correcting repeated assertions of the same ignorance, it is not unlike a materials scientist conjecturing the same about repeated assertions that glass is a liquid.

  158. James Pollock says

    "That's the most accurate thing you have said in the entire thread, James Pollock. The numerous times you claimed to state my position, you were nowhere near it.

    Well, zero IS a number, so I guess there were "numerous" times.

    "What reasoning skills?"
    exactly.

    Alas, I have to notify you that your weak fake outrage has gotten, if anything, even weaker when I offered you something actually of the type of thing you claim to be outraged about. Sad.

    The boringness, however, has remained the same throughout.

    In any case, I'm returning to my position of three days ago, specifically,

    (I've never heard of either of these people before right now, and I plan to continue to keep my knowledge of them to a minimum going forward.)

  159. Some Random Guy says

    @En Passant: As we have agreed, it's not always easy to identify subtle trolls. Some, such as yourself, who don't exhibit over trollishness, are often given the benefit of the doubt. Thus the slightest of nibbles in an effort to see if there was in fact a line attached. I am not well versed enough in materials science or the underlying physics to hold an opinion on whether or not glass and other "amorphous solids" should be considered their own state of matter. ;)

    In regards to the legal point being argued, I'd hardly call it subtle, but I don't believe that it was expressed clearly and unambiguously until very recently in the thread, and first, by coincidence of crossed posts, by Owen. I have no strong opinions on the substance of the matter as it's well outside my jurisdiction and only tangentially related to the areas of law in which I am involved or intend to be involved. I do, however, think it not unreasonable that one might share Owen's impression that there may have been another colourable felony involved.

    That said, hubris or a sense of entitlement can manifest themselves in many ways, not just by calling the cops and spouting bizarre accusations, but also by, for example, ranting, flame-baiting, and foot-stomping. I don't believe that I stated anywhere that Patterico's behaviour was identical to Letten's. I simply gave my opinion that the underlying causes of their (obviously different) behaviours were likely the same. I suppose that may have been a relatively subtle linguistic point which some may have not comprehended at first glance. Others may have observed it to be an obvious and deliberate troll. It is indeed difficult to tell sometimes.

  160. says

    In regards to the legal point being argued, I'd hardly call it subtle, but I don't believe that it was expressed clearly and unambiguously until very recently in the thread, and first, by coincidence of crossed posts, by Owen.

    I assumed too much knowledge of the applicable law and the facts of the situation amongst the commenters. And I have no patience to elaborate in a comment thread. It takes enough energy to do so in a blog post.

  161. EPWJ says

    Pat,

    I apologize for my comment about you insulting Ken. I was wrong and it was my mistake. Again, please accept my apology.

  162. EPWJ says

    BTW

    Ken, I gave James the contact to fix this, he would have probably not been charged, but he did not respond and went through all of this. I'm not implying that he had insufficient counsel, but this person, the lawyer I recommended, was also one of those who was recommended to replace Letten.

    Its too bad, James would have avoided the ordeal and the "Landrieu" would have been satisfied….

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