The bug planted in Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s office had been in place only two weeks before it was discovered, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The paper says that FBI agents were not permitted to listen in on all of the dozens of people who met with the mayor, but only to conversations involving a short list of visitors.
The judge who approved the bugging signed off on an order that sought to strike a balance between the FBI’s attempt to find wrongdoing and the right to privacy of Street and any citizens who met with him. The fact that the bug had to be turned on and off suggests that the FBI, either by tailing suspects or relying on an informant, knew when the selected list of people would arrive at the mayor’s office.
The Inquirer noted that federal authorities took the unusual step of bugging a mayor’s office about six weeks before what was shaping up to be a razor-close election.