The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Pentagon Shooter: Political Criminal or Just Plain Crazy?

By Mark Potok on March 5, 2010 - 3:11 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime

It’s hard to say, based on the early reports coming out today, just what motivated the man who tried to murder several Pentagon police officers yesterday but was killed himself instead. Police in California had picked up John Patrick Bedell and treated him as mentally ill in years past. But at the same time, Bedell had bitterly described an evil cabal inside the government, “a tiny elite” that seeks “to control and dominate the world.”

That last statement could have come straight from the mouths of activists in the conspiracy-minded “Patriot” movement, which, as documented in a Southern Poverty Law Center report released this week, has come roaring back to life in the last year. Most Patriots believe the federal government is part of a conspiracy to impose martial law, herd Americans into concentration camps, and force liberty-loving Americans into a socialistic “New World Order.”

But Bedell also attacks the government for what he depicts as fiascos in Vietnam and Iraq — a position more closely associated with the left — and endorses the idea, also originating largely on the left, that the government was behind the 9/11 attacks in New York. He criticizes the military and the nation’s intelligence services as well, and says they and the government engage in “bribery, theft and murder.”

Based on the scant evidence available so far, Bedell may be best described as a kind of radical libertarian, a man who believed that government should be as small as possible, and that even public schools are not legitimate — education should be handled entirely privately, he wrote at one point. He was also a man with a strong bent toward conspiracy theories about events ranging from 9/11 to the disputed 1991 death of a U.S. Marine colonel.

It may be that Bedell was not primarily a would-be political killer; he may well have been a man with mental health issues who simply absorbed the overheated rhetoric that is so abundant in American political life today. What there can be little question of is that there is an enormous amount of angry rhetoric awash in our society, to the point where it’s not surprising that certain individuals feel they must act.

  • beholder

    This was not a war waged by the American people, from which our sovereignty derives. It was waged by corporations and mercenaries in the hire of the United States government.

  • Jack

    Beholder, I can agree with you that the war was unconstitutional, Congress handed over it’s war making powers like a puppy treat.

    However, I don’t see it as some international “illegal” problem, we are a sovereign state and can make war on any other sovereign state as we see fit.

    The one million claim is dubious, a whole lot of those are folks who would have died anyways regardless.
    It’s easy to make numbers lie and I have not seen anything yet to convince me of one million dead from our actions.

    Either way, I don’t have a problem with us making war on whomever we choose for whatever reason.

    I DO have a problem with wars not being declared by congress per our constitution.

    As far as posting goes, mine get deleted all the time.
    You can never tell why they have been deleted or any pattern of deletion.

    I do not want a king and that is exactly what congress has done, turned the exec branch into a king.
    It is the reason the founding fathers did not give war making powers to the executive, that was normally the prerogative of kings and we didn’t want one.

    This is one of the main reasons our federal government is no longer legitimate.

  • Tony Wicher

    If bin Laden is alive, he has been protected by the CIA since the late 80’s, they know exactly where he is and can capture or kill him any time they want. I very much doubt he is alive or they would have had him produce a lot more videos by now.

  • beholder


    Strange, generally the SPLC is tolerant. Even rabid nativists, racists, and white supremacist militias get to speak their piece here. I cannot divulge my email here, sorry. My views here and elsewhere have resulted in threats, from presumably some of the aforementioned groups. Can you try posting an external link? Or was that what was censored?

    My guess is that that the SPLC doesn’t want to be perceived as fanning conspiracy dialogue. I am simply curious however, and hope it will be posted.

  • Matthew

    I’ve tried two posts so far and it seems that they might have been censored re: Bin Laden’s death, according to Bhutto, and his offer of a truce. Post your email address and I’ll send them on.

  • beholder

    Regarding bin Laden, sure I’ve seen his point all along. Our support for Israel is destabilizing to the middle east, and we are a nation of hypocrites. This is not an apology for him at all. I condemn his actions and his methods, but then again, so do I condemn Bush’s arguments that they are out to get us because they hate freedom. That’s the stupidist argument I have ever heard. It won over half the country, then the other half had to be convinced with reports of WMD and link to al Qaeda in Iraq. Tell me though, if he keeps poking his head up and issuing statements verified to be his voice, with reference to recent events, are you suggesting that his myth is being kept alive by the American government in order to keep the war machine going? Now, Castro, he is dead. Bin Laden, I tend to think he’s hiding in a hole still, maybe very sick of renal disease, but alive.

  • Tony Wicher

    But if bin Laden has been dead since 2001, where did those audio and video recordings come from? Who authenticated them? The answer is the NSA in both cases. That is incredibly sinister.It shows that our whole national security apparatus is completely out of control, using Islamophobia as personified by this one bogyman, bin Laden, to lead this country into war after war. The president is just a puppet. All otrher political issues pale into insignificance compared with this.

  • Matthew

    Beholder – Bin Laden has been dead since 2001. Bhutto (check out YouTube bhutto interview back to back) stated that he was murdered by the same people she expected would try to kill her. You might be interested in Bin laden’s speech. The interpretation we got wasn’t what was said..

    He actually offered Bush a truce. His beef was that his people were being killed and nobody was doing a thing about it. He questioned why when they fought off the Russians, they were heroes, but when they are fighting off the US they are terrorists. I’m not a fan of Bin Laden but I can see his point.

    He denied having anything to do with the 9/11 attack but he approved of it.

    The sooner we get out of there, the sooner there will be peace, I think.

  • beholder

    Thanks for the info Matthew, though I take no pleasure in the hecatombs left behind in Bush’s wake. The exact numbers are unknowable, but one can clearly and objectively say they are utterly unacceptable for any civilized person to contemplate.

  • beholder

    Wow Jack, you don’t pay attention. I guess Secret Agent Men like you have better things to worry about,such as the secret life of Walter Mitty.

    I’m talking about the deaths in Iraq after the United States illegally toppled the sovereign government and threw the country into chaos — bombs, hunger, disease, sectarian violence, etc. You know, the same sovereign government that the United States put into power to block Iran’s hegemony in the Middle East.

  • Matthew

    beholder – This is what the underground news tells us: (News you won’t find on Faux or CNN).

    Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered In US War And Occupation Of Iraq “1,366,350”

  • Jack

    “America made a radical departure from its former status on what constitutes grounds for war.”

    It has been doing that since WWII.

    It is one of the reasons our government is no longer legitimate; Congress, (with no authority to do so) turned over its war making powers to the executive branch.

    But you avoided your claim about one million.

    Again, exactly what one million people did Bush kill as you claim?

  • beholder

    Quite right Snorlax, and don’t forget the right’s argument that the Dred Scott decision was also not to limit the voting power of the black man in America by turning former slaves from non-humans into fractional entities. It was to prevent the former slaveowners from having too much say in government. Uh…yeah, right.

  • beholder

    Matthew said,

    on March 12th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    “Really? Exactly what one million? You are off on the deep end here. ”

    Matthew, maybe he only considers Allied coaltion deaths worth counting, so thinks the death toll of the war was in four digits, not seven. Also to clarify I was talking about the civilian deaths in the aftermath of the chaos unleashed on Iraq by the United States. Most are due to sectarian violence, but this is what we were saying before the war got started: don’t open pandora’s box. This is the worst humanitarian crisis ever caused by the United States. Why do you think we’re hated in Iraq? If ‘liberty” means having 1.2 million people slaughtered so that we can get our hands on the oil and an airbase, I think the Iraqi people would prefer not to have such enduring freedoms forced on them. Don’t even get me started how it was a war by proxy, for and by big corporations.

  • Mike Magruder

    People as “super -geniuses and complete utter morons at the same time”. ???…Hmmmm…? Let me think. Since humans are essentially little more than suped up beasts,such dualities shouldn’t be that difficult to understand. Our brains are attached to our rears, our fangs and our claws by the nervous system. Frequently, people exhibit claw think, tooth think and butt think. That last rhymes with something…hmmmm??? Just now the human species is sort of like a baby that’s all alone and can’t figure out how to change its own dirty diaper. Yuccch! I think that liberals are actually finding ways to do so. I’m trying myself. Arrrrgggghhhh! Strettcccccchhhh! Fumble! Bitch! Wail! BINGO!!! Evolution is a deadly struggle. Just because we can hide our poot like cats doesn’t mean it’s not still part of reality. Skulls in closets and human instincts. We have a long way to go.

  • Tony Wicher


    OK, that post post got published, at least. OK, let’s see if this one does.

    The 9/11 truth movement is a non-violent and non-racist movement that questions the government’s account of 9/11. The SPLC should be careful not to smear it as a hate group. There are two web sites associated with the 9/11 truth movement listed as hate sites in the latest issue of the SPLC report. One of these is I agree with the SPLC about this, since this site is virulently anti-Semitic. I myself am a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and we vehemently repudiate this web site. The other site listed is Alex Jones I listen to Jones quite a bit, and though he is stridently anti-government, he opposes all forms of violence, condems anyone who commits violence in the name of 9/11 truth as a provacateur, and I have not heard any suggestion of racism in any form in his broadcasts. Therefore I believe this listing of his site as a hate group is unfair. Jones is rightly upset with the SPLC about this. I am requesting the SPLC to remove from their list of hate sites. Unless they do so, I am sorry to say that I will have to withdraw my name from the leadership council.

  • Snorlax

    I’ve visited one of the ORIGINAL detention camps where US citizens were held against their will for no legitimate legal reason.

    Camp Amache, Colorado.

    From 1942-45, thousands of Japanese American US Citizens were detained there. They were NOT a security risk.

    They WERE a minority that conservative nativist groups wanted to rip off and evict from the West Coast.

    Amache was one of several camps detaining 100,000 US citizens during the war.

    FDR signed the order, but it was definitely a bipartisan effort.

    The Japanese-Americans lost a billion (in 1945 dolllars). They were systematically robbed and run out of town. By nativists.

    And what about those eeeeevil librrrruls? They helped the Nisei get out of the camps, sent them support, and helped them argue their cases before the Supreme Court.

  • Snorlax

    “Left-wingers for the previous 8 years had been screaming that President Bush was building concentration camps. Stop making that conspiracy sound like an exclusive right-wing property.”


    It was the same Alex Jones, NOT those eeeevill librrrrruls, who spread the FEMA rumor during Dubya’s “Reign of Error”.

    I know, I heard it. The original rumor was that the FEMA camps were being built by Haliburton under direct supervision of Dick Cheney. Alex Jones said this.

    Liberals had nothing to do with it.

    This is just another LIE from the right. They love to reinvent history. They believe the Holocaust never happened and blacks were better off under slavery and Jim Crow.

    Stop blaming liberals for these whackos.

    Stop lying to us.

  • Matthew

    “Really? Exactly what one million? You are off on the deep end here. ”

    No, he’s right. The civilian death toll among those in Afghanistan and Iraq totals over 1,000,000. This is why they want us out. We’re killing more of their people than the Taliban.

    Quote: “According to a new study, 1.2 million Iraqis have met violent deaths since the 2003 invasion, the highest estimate of war-related fatalities yet. The study was done by the British polling firm ORB, which conducted face-to-face interviews with a sample of over 1,700 Iraqi adults in 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Two provinces — al-Anbar and Karbala — were too dangerous to canvas, and officials in a third, Irbil, didn’t give the researchers a permit to do their work. The study’s margin of error was plus-minus 2.4 percent. “

  • Chris Sarns

    Matthew said,
    “I guess because your “truth” is probably actually conspiracy theory although I must admit that the implosion of building #7, not having been hit by anything, is odd.”

    The implosion and free fall of WTC 7 is not “odd”, it is proof of controlled demolition.

    Failure to accept this reality is denial.

    “OBL and 19 hijackers did it” is a conspiracy theory yet most Americans believe it while calling scientific proof of controlled demolition a conspiracy theory.

  • beholder

    And as far as worst president goes, history is going to prove you wrong.

    Thank you for steering my gaze to untold history of America. I am moved.

    I heard Condoleeza Rice say that the first time, and I didn’t buy it then. And now that Karl Rove is saying it I definitely don’t believe it. Lemme carpet bomb your back yard, Jack. History will show it was the right thing to do. Mission accomplished and all that.

    America made a radical departure from its former status on what constitutes grounds for war. I think our Founders would have been horrifed at our adventures in the Middle East. How history is supposed to vindicate Bush’s reign of terror is a mystery. Certainly seeing Rove re-write history and now justify taking out Saddam Hussein for being a tyrant merely supports everything that those of us who were opposed to the war were saying all along.

    Nobody every questioned Saddam was murdering psychopath. The only question is for all the murdering psychopaths around the world, why did Bush choose that one? The United States put him in power to contain Iran, the same as we fostered Osama bin Laden to “contain” the Soviets. So why? As I said: the oil and the airbase to be within reach of Iran. The rest is simply so much smoke and mirrors. If we needed an airbase in Rwanda we’d have gone there too, it’s that simple.

    Armchair jingoists who routed for bloodshed in Iraq are moral poltroons who felt powerless after 9-11 and recovered some of their chest-beating self esteem as a result. But be aware that our country is no longer able to deal with all external threats. At some point we will need to put aside bloodthirsty nationalism in the best interests of our people and humanity at large.

  • Jack

    “Unfortunately, the powerful sway of fear and demogogury held America in thrall, and the worst president of our nation’s history got away with the murder of one million people.”

    Really? Exactly what one million? You are off on the deep end here. This shows what happens when you believe in mythical conspiracies rather than reality.

    And as far as worst president goes, history is going to prove you wrong.
    Bush will go down as an average performer.

    If you want worst presidents, there are quite a few others worse than him, like Wilson for starters, though that would be a tough call versus Roosevelt.

  • Jack

    Ah, no Ruslan.
    Most of his works are in my library.
    Marxism just doesn’t work, no matter how much you propagandize.

  • Matthew

    Tony – “I guess it’s just another example of the irrational hatred, fear and prejudice against 9/11 truthers”

    I guess because your “truth” is probably actually conspiracy theory although I must admit that the implosion of building #7, not having been hit by anything, is odd.

  • Tony Wicher

    My last few posts have been censored. I do not know why since they were polite, objective and on topic. I guess it’s just another example of the irrational hatred, fear and prejudice against 9/11 truthers. It’s a shame bad to find it here at an SPLC blog whose objective is supposed to be teaching tolerance.

    Tony Wicher
    Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

  • beholder

    Since we cannot know for certainty about Flight 93, may I suggest we look at the rationale for giving the shoot down authorization. Was this or was this not a bad thing? This is a question where values come into play. Clearly if you are on the ground and not in the plane, it is one thing, and if you are in the plane to be shot down, it may be another (though if I am on a pilotless plane aimed at a greater number of civilians, and going to die anyway, I would support interception). By the way Ruslan interception by a military plane over US airspace doesn’t seem to rule out being shot down. I don’t condemn the policy, I merely think it has been poorly explained because it, like many of the doings of the Bush 43 administration, was fraught with moral peril. When our leader fears letting us know the truth because it will get in the way with leading the country, it is time to impeach. Unfortunately, the powerful sway of fear and demogogury held America in thrall, and the worst president of our nation’s history got away with the murder of one million people.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Jack it’s painfully obvious that you have never read Marx at all. The closest you have probably ever come is to some right-wing pundit’s interpretations based on a few select, distorted quotes.

    That being said, there is no evidence that Flight 93 was shot down and based on the words of Cheney in that interview I don’t see anything that suggests it. ‘Intercept’ and shoot down are two different things. But the most important thing is that someone like Cheney is not going to ADMIT to such a thing on national television. This is the problem with such conspiracy theories- we are led to believe that the conspirators are both super-geniuses and complete utter morons at the same time.