Step 1 Break phones; Step 2 ????; Step 3 Profit
The four conservative operatives arrested for maliciously tampering with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones say that they just wanted to vandalize her phones, not surreptitiously monitor conversations:
Mystery solved? NBC is reporting that James O'Keefe and his three companions were carrying out a plan to gauge how the staff of Sen. Mary Landrieu would respond if their office phone system were disabled, following complaints by conservative constituents that anti-health reform calls were not getting through to the New Orleans office.
Republicans have slammed Landrieu in recent months over what they've dubbed the "new Louisiana Purchase" -- a reference to extra Medicare funding for the state she won in the Senate health care bill. And Rasmussen found just 34% of voters in the state, where tea partiers have targeted Landrieu for her support of reform, back the health plan. [TPMM]
The first hypothesis was that they were just "checking" the phones to make sure that they hadn't been disabled by evil Landrieu staffers bent on ignoring right wingers. When they first came into the office, the phony repairmen let James O'Keefe film them as they fiddled with the phone on Landrieu's reception desk. One guy made a big show of calling the desk phone and announced that he couldn't get through. Up until this point, I can imagine this scene in an O'Keefe expose: Our hero calls desk phone, it doesn't ring, therefore Mary Landrieu is ignoring conservatives.
But the "just checking" theory couldn't account for the fake repairmen's interest in the main phone cabinet, or the report that Stan Dai was arrested in a car near Landrieu's office with listening equipment.
So, the revised excuse is that they wanted to disable Landrieu's phone, just to see what she'd do.
What did they think she would do? The phone system goes down after they leave. Riveting television, right? Unless they planned to covertly monitor Landrieu's response from afar. O'Keefe has a thing for hidden cameras. That might explain why Dai was waiting in the car with
reception and transmission equipment what the AP described as "a listening device that could pick up transmissions."