Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Well, That’s Embarrassing…

When you are attempting to hold the moral highground, it’s generally a good idea not to wallow in the gutter with common criminals.  Unfortunately, this is a lesson that sometimes has to be learned at great pain and expense.

Politico has the story:

The FBI has arrested four men — including conservative anti-ACORN filmmaker James O’Keefe — for attempting to interfere with the phone system in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) New Orleans office.

It’s all fun and games until you try to hack someone’s telecommunication system.  Then it’s a federal crime.

The complaint said that Flanagan and Basel each entered the premises, wearing light green fluorescent vests, denim paints and blue work shirts, tool belts and hard-hats. They informed a member of Landrieu’s staff that they were telephone repairmen and requested access to the main telephone at the reception desk.

That’s called “Social Engineering”.  When you are doing a Penetration Test (“Pen Test”) of someone’s information systems you will often try this sort of thing to see if processes are in place and properly implemented – which in this case they apparently were.  Before social engineering someone’s offices, of course, it is important to get explicit permission in writing signed by an authorized representative so you and your folks don’t end up in jail.

At that point, the two men allegedly attempted to manipulate telephones and accessed the telephone closet, saying they needed to work on the entire system. The men, who said they left their credentials in their vehicles, were arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service soon afterward.

See, this is an example of why you shouldn’t send amateurs to do a professional job.  Fake IDs are much more effective than claiming that you are so incredibly incompetent that your dog ate your credentials.  You could have a sponge for a receptionist and he/she is not going to fall for that one.

According to the FBI, the four men could each face up to 10 years and a fine of $250,000 if they are convicted.

I know folks who have interviewed hackers sentenced to federal penitentiaries for crimes like this.  It’s sad to hear about someone breaking down in tears when they realize that they aren’t going to be able to bluster their way to freedom and end up begging to be sent a Big Mac, but the price of criminal acts is pretty clear.

No doubt Sarah Palin will send these folks some fast food.  They can use it to buy some respect from the lifers who are going to be using them as meat puppets for the next decade.


  1. HappyinVT

    Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed.

    These three are 24 and O’Keefe 25.  Does something happen to some conservative guys when they hit 24?

  2. HappyinVT

    An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator’s offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.


    When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affidavit, observed O’Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O’Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

    What is it with folks and videotapes?  Yep, do something illegal and tap it.  But it gets better.

    The men have to go to pretrial services, a federal agency, tomorrow morning. Moore allowed three of the men to stay together Tuesday night, but ordered them to not talk about the case.

    Right, they’re not going to talk about the case.  And, I thought I was naive.

    Lastly, and just because the jokes write themselves:

    O’Keefe spent most of the time in the men’s room off the jail’s lobby, then hustled to the cab when it arrived.

  3. HappyinVT

    Apparently, it wasn’t bugging Sen. Landrieu’s phone.

    While initial media reports (including on TPM) described the episode at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans office as an attempted bugging, that term does not appear in the affidavit and the lawyer for one of the charged men tells TPMmuckraker, “the complaint is not about a wiretap.”

    It’s still a mystery what exactly filmmaker James O’Keefe and his companions intended to do when they allegedly arrived at Landrieu’s office. But the accurate way to describe what allegedly happened would be attempted phone tampering.


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