[NOTE — GRITtv will feature a segment on the Landrieu break-in with David Price and Lindsay Beyerstein, posting Tuesday, Feb. 2, 8 pm EST.]

If four politically-motivated young men with left-wing (or Muslim), rather than right-wing ties, broke into the office of a senior Senate Homeland Security Committee member and gained access to her computer files — do you think we’d be hearing less about hijinks and more about Guantanamo?

The story of the break-in at Senator Landrieu’s office gets weirder and weirder by the day.

For those who were distracted by the State of the Union, last week, federal officials arrested four young men and charged them with plotting to tamper with the telephone system, after they were caught impersonating telephone repairmen in the New Orleans office of Senator Mary Landrieu.

The mainstream media account of the story has it that the four were neo-Conservative pranksters gone overboard in an attempt to uncover possibly damaging information related to the Democratic senator and a voter registration drive or the health-care bill, or both. One of the men was a conservative activist who gained fame – or infamy – last year by posing as a pimp and secretly recording members of the community group ACORN giving him advice on how to set up a brothel.

Read the alternative media and the story points away from pranks and towards undercover operations. The group of arrestees, it seems, not only had ties to conservative campus think tanks, but may also be linked to the US intelligence community.

Lindsay Beyerstein is alleging that one of those arrested, Stan Dai, is an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence at Trinity University in DC.

Curious about the ICCAE ? David Price over at Counterpunch happens to be reporting in depth on the group. According to Price, the ICCAE (aptly pronounced "ICKY") is just one of a handful of programs started on US campuses after 9-11 to "sneak unidentified students with undisclosed links to intelligence agencies into university classrooms." The Trinity program, according to its website, "received a $250,000 renewable grant from the US intelligence Community" upon launching in 2004.

"Hijinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateurs," so ran the New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg and Campbell Roberston January 31. "Silent Coup" is the headline of David Price’s piece in Counterpunch. Connecting the two is Raw Story’s "Landrieu Phone Plot: Men Arrested have Links to Intelligence Community."

Whatever the truth, and however this story pans out, thank heavens for independent media. Left in establishment journalists’ hands, this story might not have gone anywhere. Thanks to inquisitive independent media, the dots are out there, just crying to be linked up.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.