News & Politics

Pentagon Shooting Yet Another Sign of Boiling Anti-Government Sentiment

The media are trying to find political affiliations for the Pentagon shooter, but they're missing the big picture.

Another day, another violent anti-government kamikaze act. As the feds recover from Joseph Stack flying his airplane into an IRS building in Austin on Feb. 18 -- leaving one dead and 13 injured -- the media and government have another dead man to worry about.

Thursday night, after having driven cross-country from California to Washington, John Patrick Bedell walked up to a screening area at the Pentagon and starting firing his two semiautomatic weapons. In less than a minute, he'd wounded two police offers and received gunshot injuries that would later kill him.

Like Stack, Bedell was well-educated and left behind comprehensive material that outlined his longtime anger at the U.S. government. But his grievances are different from Stack's.

While the deeply tortured manifesto Stack wrote detailed his frustrations with the tax system, it also centered around his concerns that the current economic recession was caused by an economic elite that gets away with financial crimes -- even financial murder -- every day. "Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes," he wrote.

The videos, writings and audio Bedell left for investigators' and the eager media's discovery, on the other hand, show he believed the United States had been run by a secret cabal ever since President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. He claimed this "coup regime" was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the wars in the Middle East. Bedell was further angered by the war on drugs -- he had run into trouble with the law on issues relating to marijuana.

As with Stack last month, the media is rushing to politicize the event, offering all kinds of interpretations for Bedell's actions.

A few label Bedell as a 9/11 conspiracy nut. (Truthers themselves say the baiting of one of their own is an effort by the powers-that-be to more closely justify the monitoring of 9/11 conspiracists and further obscure the truth of the 2001 attacks.)

The Christian Science Monitor suggests Bedell is a product of "right-wing extremism." A few bloggers find Tea Party tendencies in Bedell's rants, while right-winger Michelle Malkin tells the media to "stop playing games" and points out that Bedell was a registered Democrat.

Patterico, another conservative blogger, says Bedell was mostly motivated by anti-Bush tendencies. A conservative legal scholar expounds on this, calling Bedell a sufferer of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" and pointing to a 2007 poll that showed 35 percent of Democrats believed the Bush administration had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

Adding to the hodgepodge are those who say Bedell at least once used a personal e-mail address that included the domain name "," possibly a tribute to the libertarian thinker, Ludwig Von Mises.

Finally, Bedell's anger at criminal prosecution of cannabis cultivation have made marijuana the focus of many other analyses of his character and motives.

The erratic nature of all this dissection indicates what many may not yet realize; mainly, that Bedell acted alone, was clearly very troubled, and had conflicting political and conspiratorial leanings that cannot be easily characterized as left- or right-fringe.

The larger picture may be (as Frank Rich warned after Stack) that events like the one in Austin last month and in the capital this week may be a dark harbinger, an opening salvo of what is yet to come. The country is angry -- for all sorts of legitimate and crazed reasons -- and a very small minority of individuals may continue to take out their frustrations in overwrought, violent ways.

Daniela Perdomo is a staff writer and editor at AlterNet. Follow Daniela on Twitter. Write her at danielaalternet [at] gmail [dot] com.
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