Briefly, here is what happened:
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.
According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street on Monday about 11 a.m., dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu's 10th-floor office, O'Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.
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.
After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn't working. Flanagan did the same.
They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men's credentials. They said they left them in their vehicle.
The U.S. Marshal's Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.
This left everyone wondering just what the hell was O'Keefe, the man who went into ACORN offices around the country posing as a pimp in order to secretly videotape employees attempting to help him smuggle underage prostitutes into the US and get away with it, and cohorts doing. Of course, liberals and most of the mainstream media jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to tape Senator Mary Landrieu's own phone conversations. However, as the story unfolded and the FBI affidavit was released, it turned out that the intent wasn't so nefarious but just as illegal:
A law enforcement official says the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls.
Instead, the official says, the men, led by conservative videomaker James O'Keefe, wanted to see how her local office staff would respond if the phones were inoperative. They were apparently motivated, the official says, by criticism that when Sen. Landrieu became a big player in the health care debate, people in Louisiana were having a hard time getting through on the phones to register their views.
That is, the official says, what led the four men to pull this stunt -- to see how the local staffers would react if the phones went out. Would the staff just laugh it off, or would they express great concern that local folks couldn't get through?
Yesterday, O'Keefe released a statement discussing what happened in Landrieu's New Orleans office. Here is what he was doing in his own words:
I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill. When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.” I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken. In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.
He admitted that he probably should have taken a different approach in investigating Landrieu, but he wasn't
He went on to lambaste the media for jumping to conclusions and blowing the story up in order to demonize him:
It has been amazing to witness the journalistic malpractice committed by many of the organizations covering this story. MSNBC falsely claimed that I violated a non-existent “gag order.” The Associated Press incorrectly reported that I “broke in” to an office which is open to the public. The Washington Post has now had to print corrections in two stories on me. And these are just a few examples of inaccurate and false reporting. The public will judge whether reporters who can’t get their facts straight have the credibility to question my integrity as a journalist.
Obviously, this was way out of line and a serious felony. He should be greatly chastised for it. On the other hand, since this story broke, liberals are already trying to use this to get ACORN out of the doghouse by implying that O'Keefe must have used similar tactics to twist what really happened in the various ACORN offices, but it shouldn't be used, as it most definitely has been, to minimize his accomplishments and absolve ACORN more all of its illegal activities.