Has the FBI seized the computers of the New Orleans 4?
Defenders of the operatives who tried to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones point out that the men have not been formally accused of wiretapping. They have been accused of intending to maliciously tamper with the a federally owned phone system.
Wiretapping is one type of malicious tampering. It's also a much more serious and politically explosive charge than mere vandalism. So, as you'd expect, the suspects' lawyers are working overtime to counter suspicions of bugging or wiretapping.
Since the alleged tamperers were stopped before they reached the main phone cabinet, prosecutors are going to have to infer their intentions from other evidence. If you wanted to figure out whether someone intended to tap a phone or place a bug in an office, what would you look for?
The first step would be to analyze the equipment that the suspects brought with them. According to the affidavit that the two fake "repairmen" were wearing tool belts. So far, authorities haven't said what kind of tools they were carrying. It would also be nice to know more about that listening equipment that Stan Dai supposedly had with him in his car when he was arrested.
Perhaps the most revealing piece of evidence, in this day and age, would be the computers of the suspects. If you were going to bug someone's phone, you'd probably start Googling, or sourcing tools online. A sensible person might hesitate to do those searches on his or her own computer. But so far, these guys have proven themselves to be anything but sensible.
All four guys have been bailed out of jail. Let's hope the FBI has taken care to secure their home and work computers. Otherwise, they're probably home wiping their hard drives right now.