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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bugging McConnell? Maybe, Maybe Not.

Rachel Weiner writes at The Washington Post:
The campaign manager for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s reelection bid insisted Wednesday that the Kentucky senator’s office was bugged, comparing the recording of a high-level strategy meeting to the work of the Nazi secret police.
Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, published audio Tuesday of a McConnell campaign meeting in which actress Ashley Judd was discussed. The senator has said that the office must have been bugged by the “political left.”
“This is Gestapo kind of scare tactics and we’re not going to stand for it,” Jesse Benton told radio host Mike Huckabee on Wednesday.
The FBI is trying to find out what happened.  But it's worth remembering a similar incident seven years ago, where one campaign leaked recordings of its opponent's private conversations.  As it turned out, there was no bugging or any other illegal activity.

In September 2006, The New York Times reported:
The campaign of the Democratic candidate for governor, Phil Angelides, said Tuesday that it was the source of audio files containing impolitic remarks by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Those remarks were the subject of a front page article last week in The Los Angeles Times, which led to an apology by the governor.
Mr. Angelides’s campaign manager, Cathy Calfo, said at a news conference in Sacramento that the files had been culled from a Web site accessible by the public and that campaign staff members had not trespassed into a secure area of the governor’s office.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ms. Calfo called the Schwarzenegger camp’s characterization of the episode “politically motivated” and “outrageous” and added, “We believe these audio files accessed through a public Web site requiring no password are a matter of public record.”
CNET added some detail:
The controversy may center on the design of the Web server called The California government used it to post MP3 files of Schwarzenegger's speeches in a directory structure that looked like "". (That Web page is now offline, but saved in Google's cache.)
A source close to Angelides told CNET on Tuesday that it was possible to "chop" off the Web links and visit the higher-level "" directory, which had the controversial audio recording publicly viewable. No password was needed, the source said.