I didn’t post about Joe Stack–the man who flew his airplane into the IRS office building in Texas–because I read his manifesto and it seemed to me that he was a profoundly troubled individual whose tax problems were a symptom rather than the cause of his distress, whether he knew it or not. With all the pain he suffered and caused, it felt like piling on to drag politics into the mix–even if that was precisely what he did.
This article from AOL News (click here) contains links to most of the traces that the Pentagon gunman left on the Internet. Not surprisingly (and not unlike James Von Brunn, the white supremacist who opened fire at the Holocaust Memorial last year and Russell Weston, who shot up the Capitol building in 1998) John Patrick Beddell subscribed to a host of paranoid conspiracy theories and harbored a deep distrust of the government. The takeaway for me isn’t that conspiracy theory leads inexorably to violence. Most conspiracy theorists–even heavily armed ones–manage to keep it together. It’s more that crazy people are naturally drawn to crazy ideas; that mental derangement and political derangement complement each other in the worst kinds of ways. If violent right wing conspiracism doesn’t transform people into killers it does nothing to discourage would-be killers from acting out.
I lurked in some forums shortly after the news broke that Beddell was a Truther. The consensus seemed to be that it was all a big setup. It had only been days since the SPLC, in a report entitled “Rage on the Right,” had reported an alarming 244% uptick in extremist anti-government Patriot groups in the last year (click here). Beddell was phase two. Clearly he was a patsy whose death was arranged to justify a big crackdown. Here’s what Alex Jones’s Prison Planet (click here for the whole article) had to say:
On Wednesday we explained how a Southern Poverty Law Center report which demonized We Are Change 9/11 truth organizations in the same breath as violent racist skinhead groups was part of a preparatory set-up for violent domestic acts that would be blamed on anti-government extremists.
We pointed out that since examples of Americans committing violence in pursuit of their political beliefs, FBI patsy Timothy McVeigh aside, were thin on the ground, organizations like the SPLC were begging for such incidents to occur in order to provide the federal government with the pretext to crack down on dissent and silence free speech on the Internet.
Nothing paranoid about that. Of course, you could turn the argument on its head, and say that the militant anti-government movement needs more political prisoners and more martyrs than it has had before people will believe that we’re living in a police state. Beddell might have just as easily been their patsy too.
Beddell said he was “determined to see that justice is served in the death of Colonel James Sabow, as a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions and institutions such as the coup regime of 1963 that maintains itself in power through the global drug trade, financial corruption, and murder, among other crimes.”
Who was Colonel James Sabow? Sabow was a 28-year Marine veteran, a decorated pilot who had flown 221 missions in Vietnam. He allegedly commit suicide in 1991 after his career imploded over some minor infractions. Sabow’s brother, a neurologist, has spent the last nineteen years trying to prove that he was murdered (click here for a synopsis of his investigation). On the face of it, he makes a convincing case for a coverup–or at the very least, that the Marine brass and NCIS were both hostile and inept. There’s a larger conspiracy story too. Sabow, it is claimed, had threatened to blow the whistle on secret Central American arms-for-drug trades that were being staged at El Toro airbase. Click here for a Christian Science Monitor story on Beddell’s obsession with the case; here for a full account of the case in the Orange County Weekly, and here for a story at a muckraking website, MilitaryCorruption.com.
It would be ironic if Beddell’s insane act helped bring justice to the Sabow family, but his brother’s fear is that it will have exactly the opposite effect. “The greatest chance,” he told the Christian Science Monitor, “Is that the intelligence agencies will try to use this to delegitimize the authenticity of the evidence that proves beyond a doubt that Colonel Sabow was murdered.”