Friday, March 05, 2010
Pentagon Metro Incident: Government watches personal Internet sites and blogs for clues, warning signs
Once again, law enforcement is garnering a lot of clues about the mindset and motivation of someone (John Patrick Bedell, now deceased) who perpetrated a crime, in this case, the shooting near the Pentagon Metro station in Arlington VA (Thursday March 4, 2010). I used to take trains from that station a lot in the early 1990s when I lived in a highrise apartment in south Arlington; in the pre-9/11 days, civilians could part free at the Pentagon nights and weekends to go into town. I see that in my first book, I mentioned, as a metaphor for “family values”, a fight between two mockingbirds and a crow near the Pentagon Metro station in the 1990s, in the midst of the “don’t ask don’t tell” debates.
It looks like the guy has written some anti-government rants online. There’s nothing “wrong” with describing supposed government corruption or conspiracy theories behind 9/11 – I (personally) think they (the conspiracy theories that is – even though I’ve reviewed a couple movies about these theories) are wrong, but speakers have a perfect right to articulate them. But it’s becoming clear that law enforcement and employers (both) can troll the Web (including conventional sites and blogs as well as social networking sites) for what “persons of interest” write as a way of guessing what they have a “propensity” to do at some unspecified time in the future. Sound familiar? (It is to people familiar with the legal world of “don’t ask don’t tell”). Welcome to the world of rebuttable presumption and its perils.
Even offline, semi-private writings have been reviewed, as with the case of Cho and the Va. Tech tragedy in 2007 (his “screenplays” as turned in to professors or found were very violent). In school situations, even handwritten journals from English classes have been looked at.
The mental illness angle reminds me of what was said about John Warnock Hinckley Jr. and the 1981 attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan.
Bedell’s blogspot page seems to be “Rothbardix”, “Technology for liberty and justice”, link here. The Blogger “About Me” profile identifies “Me” as “Patrick”.
Picture: Sept. 2005 March (open to public; I walked) commemorating 9/11 passed west side of Pentagon AA Flight 77 impact point.