Last night, a California man armed with two semiautomatic weapons and “many magazines” of ammunition opened fire on police officers at the entrance to the Pentagon, wounding two before being killed by police. The shooter, 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell, was “well dressed in a suit” and “very calm,” walking “very directly to the officers” before engaging them, a police spokesman said.
Bedell “appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings,” the Christian Science Monitor reports, who traveled from California specifically to attack the Pentagon. While police were hesitant to assign a motive, “writings by someone with his same name and birth date, posted on the Internet, express ill will toward the government and the armed forces and question whether Washington itself might have been behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
In one posting, Bedell ranted against “big government.” In another, he wrote, “I am determined to see that justice is served in the death of Colonel James Sabow” — a Marine whose suicide has been the subject of conspiracy theories — because it would be a “step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions.”
In podcasts, Bedell propagated his conspiracy theories, which eerily reflect fringe right-wing rhetoric:
The blatant violations of the Constitution’s limitations on the economic role of the government accomplished through many subtle usurpations over many decades are perhaps even more pernicious than and are certainly a key motivation for the violent seizure of the United States government.
The Pentagon shooting is just the latest in a string of violence seemingly motivated by far right ideologies. Of course, last month, “[h]atred of the government motivated a man in Texas” to launch a suicide attack on an IRS office. And a recent Southern Poverty Law Center report found a 244 percent rise in the number of extremist hate groups. But when the Department of Homeland Security released a report last year warning about the threat from right-wing domestic terror, conservative politicians and commentators were outraged, claiming it was an assault on conservatism. Sadly, the report was right.
In a post, Bedell urged potential collaborators to contact him at an email address with the domain name @mises.com — which belongs to the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank with ties to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). A Mises senior fellow led an official event at CPAC last month. Bedell’s connection — if any — to Mises is unclear, though he was also a “fan” of the organization on Facebook.