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Activist Admits To Bugging US Senate Minority Leader 247

Posted by timothy
from the figured-it-was-cool-with-mitch dept.
cold fjord writes "Curtis Morrison, co-founder of the Progress Kentucky PAC, which had previous issued an apology over a racially charged tweet about Senator McConnell's wife (former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao), has admitted to bugging Senator McConnell. Morrison admitted he was behind the recording and said a grand jury is investigating the situation. "[Assistant] U.S. attorney, Bryan Calhoun, telephoned my attorney yesterday, asking to meet with him next Friday as charges against me are being presented to a grand jury," Morrison wrote on Salon. Morrison writes that after releasing the recording, his personal life took a negative turn. 'I've never doubted that making the recording was ethical.' He also says that he doesn't believe his actions were illegal, but admits he could be prosecuted for them."' Morrison has said that one of his inspirations was Julian Assange. Given the current direction of government activity, he may simply have been trying to build a suitable resume for future federal employment."
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Activist Admits To Bugging US Senate Minority Leader

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  • It is truly sad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450)

    It is truly sad to see the direction things have been heading in the United States.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes when assholes commit felonies against an opposing party it should end with the president resigning. That won't happen in this case since his imperial highness has some distance from the perpetrator.

      At least Nixon resigned.

      • by amiga3D (567632) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:25PM (#43890231)

        Back when President Nixon was in office this country still had journalists and in that day expected their elected leaders to be held to a higher standard. If Nixon was president today he wouldn't have to resign.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:43PM (#43890331)

          Back when President Nixon was in office this country still had journalists and in that day expected their elected leaders to be held to a higher standard.

          Get a grip. Back in those days politicians got away with far more than they do today. In fact, it was Watergate that caused a major shift in journalism. It was no longer acceptable to "look the other way" when people like Richard Daley stole elections or had the cops beat up their opponents. Many journalists knew about JFK's affairs, and there was little coverage of LBJ's wholesale cheating in the 1960 election, as well as his earlier campaigns for the senate. The current IRS flap is a joke compared to the way the IRS (and the FBI) were used politically prior to Watergate. There was never a "golden age" of ethical politicians.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Back in those days politicians got away with far more than they do today.

            I got four dead guys in Benghazi who'd probably argue with you, if they could.

            • I got four dead guys in Benghazi who'd probably argue with you, if they could.

              Incompetent != unethical

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            Back when President Nixon was in office this country still had journalists and in that day expected their elected leaders to be held to a higher standard.

            Get a grip. Back in those days politicians got away with far more than they do today. In fact, it was Watergate that caused a major shift in journalism. It was no longer acceptable to "look the other way" when people like Richard Daley stole elections or had the cops beat up their opponents. Many journalists knew about JFK's affairs, and there was little coverage of LBJ's wholesale cheating in the 1960 election, as well as his earlier campaigns for the senate. The current IRS flap is a joke compared to the way the IRS (and the FBI) were used politically prior to Watergate. There was never a "golden age" of ethical politicians.

            doesn't change that "doing a watergate" is now legal...

          • Dude, get a hold of yourself. This is Slashdot, everything from the past was better. Politicians, computers, and the damn kids stayed off my lawn!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:57PM (#43890401)
        Stop watching TV and read a book. Nixon didn't resign because some random conservative operative did something bad forcing Dicky to bravely fall on the sword of honor, he resigned because he'd HIRED the person to do something bad, and then got caught. Drawing some idiotic, unsubstantiated parallel to the current administration just makes you look ignorant, and deceived.
    • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:24PM (#43890227)
      "'I've never doubted that making the recording was ethical.'"

      The cornerstone of ethics is that is the idea they don't bend to suit your whims. If we all act "low class" and just do whatever we justify to ourselves, the world will be headed into the gutter (even faster than now).
  • by tysonedwards (969693) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:10PM (#43890129)
    First, there is an expectation of privacy inside one's office, and secondly Kentucky is a one party notify state when it comes to recording, so one party to the discussions taking place in the office needed to know that they were being recorded. Public records searches don't apply here.
    • by fermion (181285)
      This is the kind of expectation of privacy that naive kids have. They think if they post a terrorist plot on facebook, and their facebook is private, that they have an expectation of privacy. They don't. Your friends can see you facebook, it isn't private.

      Here is something to ponder. If you have sex, in front of an open window, in your home, is there an expectation of privacy? Are we going to arrest someone for filming the act? If you are talking so loud in a closed door meeting that everyone can he

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968)
      An elected official, in his appointed office should have absolutely ZERO expectation of privacy while in it. That office belongs to the PEOPLE, not him.
      • by Bartles (1198017) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:54PM (#43890383)
        Really? So are you also calling for the release of the minutes of all meetings in the Oval Office, the IRS, the State Department, and the DOJ?
        • by ATestR (1060586) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @02:42PM (#43890687) Homepage

          Really? So are you also calling for the release of the minutes of all meetings in the Oval Office, the IRS, the State Department, and the DOJ?

          Yes.

        • by gfxguy (98788)

          Really? So are you also calling for the release of the minutes of all meetings in the Oval Office, the IRS, the State Department, and the DOJ?

          Of course... the problem here is the guy was not in his "elected" office, he was in his campaign headquarters. But yes, those official meetings should not just have the minutes released, they should be broadcast live, and our elected officials should NOT be allowed to meet in private except in cases of national security - even then it should be recorded and released at a later date.

          Too bad the man who promised the most transparency has been one of the least transparent presidents ever.

      • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:57PM (#43890397)

        An elected official working in his private campaign headquarters discussing this reelection campaign with his campaign staff does have an expectation of privacy while in it. That was the case here. Your post has nothing to do with this situation. I also doubt that your point even holds true in general as even public officials discuss confidential matters not for public release.

      • While in his semester office, you mean? Assuming that were true, it elephant matter nectar this was a campaign meeting, at a private office, not his senate office. Personally, I think leaders should be able to have frank, honest discussions with advisors. I know that JFK's private consultations with his attorney general (and brother) helped avoid World War 3. For the consultations to be forthright, that means those discussions aren't public.
        • That post got mangled.

          While in his senate office, you mean? Assuming that were true, it wouldn't matter because this was a campaign meeting, at a private office, not his senate office. Personally, I think leaders should be able to have frank, honest discussions with advisors. I know that JFK's private consultations with his attorney general (and brother) helped avoid World War 3. For the consultations to be forthright, that means they aren't public, and therefore carefully worded for political purposes.
          • by chihowa (366380)

            I liked the original post better. This place would be much more awesome if discussions randomly devolved into elephant matter nectar.

        • elephant matter nectar

          You've found the fabled Lost Verse of "Glass Onion". Congratulations.

    • First, there is an expectation of privacy inside one's office, and secondly Kentucky is a one party notify state when it comes to recording, so one party to the discussions taking place in the office needed to know that they were being recorded. Public records searches don't apply here.

      His office? The location was a regional campaign headquarters with noone sitting at the reception desk (after an alleged press conference) and Sen. Mitch McConnell was having an all-hands meeting in a conference room with a window opened into the hallway.

      Granted, that Senator may still have had an expectation of privacy, but the Kentucky statute for eavesdropping is certainly not on his side for this one.

      A conversation which is loud enough to be heard through the wall or through the heating system without the use of any device is not protected by the statute, since a person who desires privacy can take the steps necessary to ensure that his conversation cannot be overheard by the ordinary ear. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 526.020.

      Nor is the other statute for hidden cameras any help to the Senator either, since it explicitly narrows

  • Let's see, this puts him in the same ethical category as E Howard Hunt, Charles Colson, G Gordon Liddy, Virgilio Gonzalez, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martinez, and Frank Sturgis. What could possibly go wrong with that?

  • News For Nerds (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:21PM (#43890205)

    This story belongs to politico or any number of political blogs. Why in the fuck is this story on a site that is ostensibly news for nerds???
    There is no nerd angle here whatsoever.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I don't know. Maybe it's because they bugged his office, that would be a tech thing I suppose. Yeah....it's a stretch I know.

      • An audio video recording device being operated is hardly as technical as leaving a microphone in the ceiling light.

        I agree this is purely political and not even journalism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Slashdot has become politicized well beyond any normal nerditis. Perhaps they're fishing to see how egregious a behavior will get defended, or attacked, depending on which "side" the offender is on?

    • Because the admins of Slashdot are too fucking lazy to actually read submissions, check the links, and run a spell/grammar check. Instead we get random shit like this or blatant advertisements for the "most extreme usb drive ever".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:24PM (#43890225)

    Bugging ?

    The voices were coming from the other side of a nearby door, which had a window. I pulled out my Flip camera and started to record.
    I don’t need to tell you what a weapon the pocket video camera has become."

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I always thought that was defined as eavesdropping. Maybe because he recorded it. Still and all he never entered the office. I'm not sure if what he did was illegal or not. I guess the lawyers will have fun with it.

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
      Depending on location, it is illegal to record a conversation between two parties without those parties' knowledge. In some states, both parties are required to know, in other only one is required. That is why many video surveillance systems don't have sound capabilities. These are the laws many video peepers and upskirt video shooters were prosecuted under because there was nothing on the books about shooting video.
    • Bugging ?

      The voices were coming from the other side of a nearby door, which had a window. I pulled out my Flip camera and started to record.
      I don’t need to tell you what a weapon the pocket video camera has become."

      Yes bugging.

      Covert listening device [wikipedia.org]
      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      (Redirected from Bugging)

      A covert listening device, more commonly known as a bug or a wire, is usually a combination of a miniature radio transmitter with a microphone. The use of bugs, called bugging, is a common technique in surveillance, espionage and in police investigations.

      A bug does not have to be a device specifically designed for the purpose of eavesdropping.

      He was covert - nobody talking knew he was there. Nobody in the di

    • by JBMcB (73720)

      Yep - that constitutes bugging. They were behind a door, meaning they had an expectation of privacy. If they were doing it out in the open then bugging would be much harder to prove.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      KY is a single-party recording state.
      At least one of the parties to a recording must be aware the recording is taking place.

      It's about as cut and dried illegal as can be.

      Even if your target's an asshole. (shrug)

      But then zealots always have reasons that the rules don't apply to them, right?

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:37PM (#43890305)

    Recently, the group turned its attention to McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, with a focus on her race. ... In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: "This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she's his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!"

    So "China" is a race now? Are there many 19th century reporters in Louisville?

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      It is kind of amusing. If it just wasn't so sad.

    • Are there many 19th century reporters in Louisville?

      Or have they not made it that far yet?

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @03:55PM (#43891085)

      Senator McConnell's wife is Chinese American. She was born in the Republic of China, commonly referred to as Taiwan, and came to the United States when she was eight years old. I guess you didn't read far enough into the story to pick up that Progressive Kentucky were drawing attention to the fact that she is Asian, specifically Chinese, and the implication that as US Secretary of Labor she had sent American jobs to China because she is Chinese by birth. Some might regard that as racist. I'm a little surprised you didn't catch on to that. Aren't Europeans generally held to be more sophisticated in such matters?

      • I guess you didn't read far enough into the story to pick up that Progressive Kentucky were drawing attention to the fact that she is Asian, specifically Chinese, and the implication that as US Secretary of Labor she had sent American jobs to China because she is Chinese by birth. Some might regard that as racist

        Funny, to me it sounds like a paranoid accusation of divided loyalties. And yes, I've read it.

  • I think there's an argument that a truly open government would allow us to see what's going on in the public offices of the elected officials (I think that would also further decrease our ability to compromise, but that's a digression...).

    However, this was in a campaign office. That's not a public function, it's necessarily a private group which is (supposed to be) separate from the staff and work of the public office. Recording campaign discussions is just dirty politics, not looking out for the public g

  • What a moron... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sirwired (27582) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @01:51PM (#43890367)

    What he did was neither ethical, legal, or even a remotely good idea. Even if your opponent is a prick. I cannot imagine in what universe he is inhabiting that he thinks that this was not going to get him in serious trouble (as well it should.) And under what journalistic ethical code is bugging somebody's office allowed?

    I'm no fan of Julian Assange (not because I think that wikileaks is illegal or immoral, rather because the way he handles it, and himself, is really poor...) but this isn't even remotely similar. The only inspiration he could have possibly drawn from Julian is a gigantic ego.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you should read the details of what he did before accusing him of things. Hint, he didn't actually bug anything. He heard a conversation through a closed door.

      It's no different than walking by your neighbors, hearing them having an argument and recording it.

      Or turning on your laptop, seeing your neighbor's wifi signal and using it.

      • I apologize; you are correct. I should have read all the linked articles. It's a grey area that the law will have to sort out. (I suspect it hinges on if he would have been considered trespassing at the time, and if the participants in the recorded meeting had a reasonable expectation of privacy.)

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          And yet the damage is done. The original, incorrect comment is at +5. Tons of people will read it, and get the wrong idea, and never hear the correction. I don't particularly blame you, but this shows how quickly lies spread in the internet age. The truth doesn't stand a chance.

          • His initial post was correct. Tons of people should read it. The AC he responded to was misleading in what must be a deliberate attempt to confuse the issue.

          • One of Slashdot's weaknesses is the lack of an "edit" button. Most sites have them these days... It'd be even better if they had one with a link to the original comment, to prevent all sorts of trollish foolishness.

            • by Smauler (915644)

              Edit buttons don't work with moderation. If you reply to something stupid, then the original person edits out the stupid thing, your reply can become meaningless, offtopic, strawman, redundant, whatever. Lack of an edit button is a strength.

              Following threads that are edited is almost impossible, too - you end up with a mishmash of unrelated comments sometimes.

              • If the edit button becomes inactive after the post is moderated or replied to your objections become immaterial.

                Lack of a reasonably intelligent button diminishes this forum.

        • Re:Whoops! (Score:5, Informative)

          by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @05:53PM (#43891851)

          Your initial post was correct. The post you responded to relies on clever misdirection to, in effect, lie. The man facing an indictment by a grand jury didn't simply overhear a conversation through a door as he innocently passed by, he specifically went there based on an insider tip to secretly record their conversation without their consent, and violate their privacy. I don't think there is any real question about there being an expectation of privacy when engaged in private conversation behind closed doors in a private office in a private building. If the standard for privacy is, "can't be heard by hook or by crook," there will be nothing considered private.

          Once again, you were completely correct in your initial post.

      • by amorsen (7485)

        It's no different than walking by your neighbors, hearing them having an argument and recording it.

        Hearing it is fine. Recording it is a grey area. Sharing the recording or talking about what you heard is wrong.

        Now there are obviously exceptions to that, if you hear someone describing their murder plans, then you can certainly share that. In this case the public good (if any) that came from the release does not seem to outweigh the damage done.

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
        I suggest you check your local laws. Recording your neighbors having an argument without their knowledge and consent is almost certainly against the law.
        • Recording is only illegal if there was a reasonable expectation of privacy. Two neighbors arguing on their front lawn have none. You can record them and play it back on the evening news if you so choose. Two neighbors arguing in their living room? A grey area if they are being loud and you do so from the street. Only illegal if you, for instance, have to put a mic on the glass.

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
        Oh, and how is this different from walking a drug detecting dog outside a suspected grow house?
      • He heard a conversation through a closed door.

        Yeah, except that he was trespassing. He wasn't allowed to be in the hallway he was in either. He snuck into the office suite and stood outside the door of the office that the meeting was in, because he was going to illegally record this meeting.

        It's no different than walking by your neighbors, hearing them having an argument and recording it.

        I don't know where you're from, but if it's not illegal to sneak onto your neighbors' property to record them having an argument, let me know where it is so I can stay the hell away.

    • by Tailhook (98486)

      I cannot imagine in what universe he is inhabiting

      It is long past time to have shed that naivety.

      Hate filled libtards like Morrison regard the very existence of Republicans as criminal. The guy released his stupid little recording thinking he had blown the lid on his enemies. The fact that almost nobody cared because all he actually had was boilerplate campaign activity was a complete surprise to him. Doubtless he is convinced that the reason for the general indifference is that we're all brainwashed corporate consumerdroids. Or something.

      The distance

      • In all fairness, there are plenty of wingnuts that view the existence of liberals as treasonous. And there certainly isn't any shortage of ethically bankrupt "journalism" on either side.

  • Bugged? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Todd Knarr (15451)

    So, let me get this straight. He didn't surreptitiously gain access to any area any random member of the public wouldn't have access to. He didn't plant any recording device to record in his absence. He stood outside a door and with a cel phone recorded what any passerby would have heard had they stopped to listen. Is that correct?

    That doesn't even sound particularly unethical to me. A bit sleazy, but then if McConnell's careless enough to have that kind of discussion where anyone in the hallway can overhea

    • by quantaman (517394)

      So, let me get this straight. He didn't surreptitiously gain access to any area any random member of the public wouldn't have access to. He didn't plant any recording device to record in his absence. He stood outside a door and with a cel phone recorded what any passerby would have heard had they stopped to listen. Is that correct?

      That doesn't even sound particularly unethical to me. A bit sleazy, but then if McConnell's careless enough to have that kind of discussion where anyone in the hallway can overhear the problem doesn't lie with the people in the hallway listening.

      I think this is where the phrase 'reasonable expectation of privacy' comes into play. If I'm behind a closed door in my campaign HQ I think I have a reasonable expectation of privacy, I could do more, but most people would think me paranoid.

      Now we usually think of bugging as recording something we can't hear ourselves, either because we can't be in the right location (ie planting a bug), or our hearing isn't sensitive enough (ie a parabolic mike), so ethically I don't think this is bugging. But the fact he

    • Re:Bugged? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday June 02, 2013 @06:58PM (#43892241)

      You didn't quite get it straight, so no, you aren't correct. His stated and only purpose for going to the building, based on an insider tip he received, was to secretly record the meeting of Senator McConnell's reelection committee without their consent. He went there on a holiday with an accomplice, snuck into the building, past an unmanned reception desk (as stated, it was a holiday), until he found Senator McConnell's office. He then used a hand-held device with a microphone and digital recording capability to record the conversations of Senator McConnell's committee for at least 12 minutes while holding his device to the door vent. They must have been at the door for even longer since they apparently checked what they were recording and made adjustments to their equipment, and changed their mind about how and what they were recording, going from an attempt to capture video to only audio. And how does he describe [salon.com] how he felt, and when he left?

      I was sweating. My heart was racing. . . . When a gentleman walked out of the campaign headquarters and into the hall, I put my Flip and phone back in my pocket, and headed to the elevator.

      Shawn was already there. We made our escape.

      He made his escape. Doesn't really sound innocent, does it? Do you think an ordinary passerby, that wasn't trespassing on a holiday to record the Senator's meeting, would linger with a recording device by a door for 20 minutes if it occurred on a normal business day at 2:00 PM? The fact that his recording device was his cell phone is completely irrelevant, and it is the recording that makes this a possible criminal offense.

      You don't find anything even mildly unethical about it? You think the problem isn't with the two intruders? It certainly appears to be direct violation of the law, probably more than one, hence the prosecutor and grand jury. As I indicated, I don't think you have this one straight.

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