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Mar 5th, 2010

Pentagon Shooter Had History of Mental Illness

Parents say they warned authorities about his behavior

Image: John Patrick Bedell
A psychiatrist says John Patrick Bedell tried to self-medicate his bipolar illness with marijuana, inadvertently making his symptoms more pronounced. (Photo credit: Washoe County Jail via AP)

NBC News and The Associated Press via
March 5, 2010

HOLLISTER, Calif. — The California man who was killed in a shootout with Pentagon police had a history of mental illness and had become so erratic that his parents reached out to local authorities weeks ago with a warning that he was unstable and might have a gun, authorities said Friday.

It’s still unclear why John Patrick Bedell opened fire Thursday at the Pentagon entrance, wounding two police officers before he was fatally shot. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries.

Bedell was diagnosed as bipolar, or manic depressive, and had been in and out of treatment programs for years. His psychiatrist, J. Michael Nelson, said Bedell tried to self-medicate with marijuana, inadvertently making his symptoms more pronounced.

His parents reported him missing Jan. 4, a day after a Texas Highway Patrol officer stopped him for speeding in Amarillo, according to the missing person’s report. …

Cross-country odyssey

The 36-year-old Bedell returned to his parent’s home Jan. 18, telling them “not to ask any questions” about where he had been. But he left after that, and his parents didn’t know where he went. …

The Bedell family put out a statement Friday saying they were “devastated as a family by the news.”

Officials: Gunman acted alone (NBC Nightly News, March 5, 2010) — John Patrick Bedell’s frequent Web rants reveal a deeply disturbed man. NBC Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports. (03:13)

“We may never know why he made this terrible decision,” the statement said. “One thing is clear though — his actions were caused by an illness and not a defective character.”

The San Jose Mercury News reported Bedell attended San Jose State University and was enrolled in fall 2009 in the graduate electrical engineering program. He did not enroll for 2010. A professor remembered him as one of the best circuit design students in his class, the newspaper said.

Investigators were trying to unravel a bizarre series of Internet postings that suggested Bedell was fascinated with conspiracy theories, computer programming, the science of warfare and libertarian economics.

Curiously, Bedell also proposed in 2004 that the Pentagon fund his own research on smart weapons. The 28-page proposal outlined his idea for DNA nanotechnology research that might “provide significant new capabilities for the Department of Defense and the individual warfighter.”

That document is the first tangible link to surface connecting Bedell and the Pentagon.

Dressed to kill?

On the day of the attack, Bedell left his green, 12-year-old Toyota in a nearby mall parking garage.

The 6-foot tall software devotee approached the Pentagon entrance Thursday evening wearing a jacket, dress shirt and pants, seeming like any other end-of-the-day commuter.

Bedell, the officials say, opened fire with a 9 mm handgun just five feet from the nearest officer, Marvin Carraway. Fellow officer Jefferey Amos ran out of a nearby guard booth to confront Bedell, as did a third, unidentified officer. All three officers gave chase and fired at Bedell, who was struck in the head and left arm. …

Officers praised

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday called the two wounded officers to express his “appreciation for their service, their bravery and their professionalism,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell. …

The assault at the very threshold of the Pentagon — the U.S. capital’s ground zero on Sept. 11, 2001 — came four months after a deadly attack on the Army’s Fort Hood, Texas, post allegedly by a U.S. Army psychiatrist with radical Islamic leanings [link added].

Hatred of the government motivated a man in Texas last month to fly a small plane into a building housing Internal Revenue Service offices, killing an IRS employee and himself [link added]. …


 Related video

Was Pentagon shooter angry at government? (MSNBC “Hardball,” March 5, 2010) — NBC News terrorism analyst Roger Cressey discusses the possible motives behind 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell’s fatal shootout at the Pentagon. (04:41)

Anger at America turns deadly (MSNBC “Dylan Ratigan,” March 5, 2010) — Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center offers his take on the gun attack outside the Pentagon, populist anger, and anti-government violence. (05:53)


Related story

Homeland Security: More ‘Lone Wolves’ Circulating in U.S.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano cites danger in sole extremists; organized hate groups on rise too

Smoke billows from a building that houses IRS offices after a small plane crashed into it February 18, 2010 in Austin, Texas.
There has been a lone wolf attack against the government in each of the first three months of this year. In February, Joseph Stack, infuriated with the Internal Revenue Service, made a suicide flight in his plane into the agency’s offices in Austin, Texas. One IRS worker was killed. (Photo credit: Jana Birchum/Getty Images)

By David Kerley

March 6, 2010

The man who opened fire at the Pentagon Thursday is part of a growing pattern in the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. John Patrick Bedell is described as an angry “lone wolf.”

Bedell, according to family and friends, was mentally ill and a marijuana user. But he also had extreme views about the government, and he laid out those feelings in audio postings on the Internet. …

There has been a lone wolf attack against the government in each of the first three months of this year. In February, Joseph Stack, infuriated with the Internal Revenue Service, made a suicide flight in his plane into the agency’s offices in Austin, Texas. One IRS worker was killed.

In January, Johnny Lee Wicks lost a case in court appealing a cut in his Social Security benefits. Wicks opened fire in the courthouse killing a security guard. Wicks was shot dead by other guards.

Napolitano talked about these “lone wolves” just a week before the Pentagon shooting.

“We have seen an increase in the lone wolf type attacks, which, from a law enforcement and investigation perspective, are the most challenging. Why? Because by definition they’re not conspiring. They’re not using the phones, the computer networks, or any — they’re not talking with others any other way that we might get some inkling about what is being planned,” the secretary told a House of Representatives sub-committee.

But a leading civil rights group says there has also been an alarming increase in the number of organized hate groups.

The recession and government spending is fueling the growth, Potok says.

“I think these are all prompted by the rise of Obama to power and these real changes that are happening around us. People are really angry and hurting out there, and many of them feel quite ready to take action,” he says.

But Potok has created controversy because he has taken his theory a step further linking some of these ideas to the Tea Party movement.

“While I don’t think it’s fair to say the Tea Party movement as an entity is an extremist movement, I don’t think there is any doubt at all that it’s a movement that is shot through with radical ideas, with conspiracy theories and in many instances with real racist feelings about non-white people,” he writes. …

‘Lone Wolves’ express anger over economy (ABC News, March 7, 2010) — Anti-government “patriot groups,” militias also on the rise, watchdog says. (01:42)


Anger in America: Topical reports on this site

Extremism Explodes in America (March 3, 2010)

Bachmann Conspiracy Nation (Feb. 20, 2010)

Condemning Beck and Bachmann (Nov. 19, 2009)

Anger in America (Oct. 31, 2009)

Economy and Obama Volatile Mix (April 16, 2009)



Iran’s Ahmadinejad: September 11 Attacks a ‘Big Lie’

March 6, 2010

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday called the official version of the Sept. 11 attacks a “big lie” used by the U.S. as an excuse for the war on terror, state media reported.

Ahmadinejad’s comments, made during an address to Intelligence Ministry staff, come amid escalating tensions between the West and Tehran over its disputed nuclear program. …

“September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state TV. He called the attacks a “complicated intelligence scenario and act.”

The Iranian president has questioned the official U.S. version of the Sept. 11 attacks before, but this is the first time he ventured to label it a “big lie.”

In 2007, New York officials rejected Ahmadinejad’s request to visit the World Trade Center site while he was in the city for a U.N. meeting. The president also sparked an uproar when he said during a lecture in New York that the causes and conditions that led to the attacks, as well as who orchestrated them, still need to be examined.

At the time, he also told Iranian state TV the attacks were “a result of mismanaging and inhumane managing of the world by the U.S,” and that Washington was using Sept. 11 as an excuse to attack others.

He has also questioned the Sept. 11 death toll of around 3,000, claiming the Americans never published the victims’ names.

On the 2007 anniversary of the attacks, the names of 2,750 victims killed in New York were read aloud at a memorial ceremony.


Related reports on this site

Iran Now a ‘Nuclear State’ (Feb. 11, 2010)

Psychological Profile of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (June 11, 2009)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personality profile


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 5, 2009

Rush Limbaugh appears in Washington, D.C.
Rush Limbaugh (Photo: The Associated Press)

Republicans ‘Paralyzed with Fear’

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that top Democrats believed they had struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party.

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