The following photograph taken by opednews.com shows a confrontation in the lobby of the National Air and Space Museum between two individuals and an officer shortly before video shows officers with the Museum’s security forces rush outside indiscriminately pepper-spraying numerous individuals.
It appears that one of the two in the confrontation with the security officer is Patrick Howley, Assistant Editor of The American Spectator. [See the following photograph in which Howley's Facebook Profile Photo is side-by-side with the person pictured at the Air and Space Museum]
Immediately after the incident began hitting the newswires Howley published a “Breaking News” story with The American Spectator online in which he reveals that he had consciously infiltrated the group on Friday with the intent to discredit the movement. He states that “as far as anyone knew I was part of this cause — a cause that I had infiltrated the day before in order to mock and undermine in the pages of The American Spectator — and I wasn’t giving up before I had my story.”
According to Howley’s story he joined the group in its march toward the Air and Space Museum but the protesters on the march were unwilling to be confrontational. He states “they lack the nerve to confront authority. From estimates within the protest, only ten people were pepper-sprayed, and as far as I could tell I was the only one who got inside.”
He claims that upon arrival at the Museum the group of approximately one hundred protesters split into two factions with the smaller of the two “rushing the doors,” the majority “staying behind.” Howley then admits in his piece that he snuck past the guard at the first entrance in order to “infiltrate” the building and then confronted another guard. He then “sprinted toward the door” at which time he was first hit with pepper-spray.
As he describes his next actions “I forced myself into the doors and sprinted blindly across the floor of the Air and Space Museum, drawing the attention of hundreds of stunned khaki-clad tourists (some of whom began snapping off disposable-camera portraits of me).”
Fully inside, despite the orders of the security guards that the Museum was closed to the public, Howley made his way upstairs – to the location where a banner was unfurled protesting the Museum’s exhibit of unmanned drone weapons.
“I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I was the only one who had made it through the doors. As two guards pointed at me and started running, I dodged a circle of gawking old housewives and bolted upstairs.”
He then found himself “stumbling around aircraft displays with just enough vision to keep tabs on my uniformed pursuers. “The museum is now closed!” screamed one of the guards as alarms sounded. “Everyone make your way to the exits immediately!” Using my jacket to cover my face — which I could feel swelling to Elephant Man proportions — I ducked through the confused tourists and raced out the exit. “Hey, you!” shouted a female guard reaching for my arm. “Get back here!” But I was already down the steps and out of sight.”
Howley refers to the Museum as “the scene of my crime.” In light of his detailed description of his activities today the fact that they clearly document the commission of the crime of trespassing on federal property, if not the intent to incite a riot there, these admissions should not be taken lightly or ignored. As a result of Howley’s activities a large number of people were subjected to pepper-spray attacks including journalists and tourists who had nothing to do with the protest. Given the negative light that the press is attempting to spin this incident with regard to the ongoing occupations, from Wall Street and D.C. and now spreading to Main Streets across the country, the presence and admitted activities of this self-proclaimed agent provacateur should be brought to the attention of federal law enforcement officials.
It is highly likely that the events that occurred would not have taken the turn they did if it were not for Howley’s admitted adventure in an effort to discredit the Occupy movement. So before the public, the media, and officials turn their attention negatively towards the protests and the protesters there needs to be a critical eye turned on the role of the American Spectator and the role played in these events by its editorial staff. If arrests were made at this incident, and even if none were, the admissions of Howley published brazenly in the pages of his Conservative magazine and bragged about on his Facebook page should lead to an official investigation into his role and that of his employer in the events in Washington D.C. today and should be seen as at least part of the causal nexus that led to the inappropriate use of force that along with Howley negatively affected many who were innocent of any crime other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ironically Howley concludes the story of his adventure mocking the lack of courage of the protesters, who he admitted did not seek – as he did – to confront the authorities, by praising the courage of the guards who twice pepper-sprayed him.
“As I scrambled away from the scene of my crime, a police officer outside the museum gates pointed at my eyes, puffed out of his chest, and shouted: “Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.” He was proud that I had been pepper-sprayed, and, oddly, so was I. I deserved to get a face full of high-grade pepper, and the guards who sprayed me acted with more courage than I saw from any of the protesters. If you’re looking for something to commend these days in America, start with those guards.”
The admissions of Patrick Howley, published in The American Spectator for all to see, require those across the country, both the public and its officials, to take a closer and more critical look at today’s event’s in the Nation’s capitol. Who was really to blame for the chaos and disruption of a Federal Museum? Who should be held responsible for those who were harmed in the melee that took place after Howley admits he defied the orders of the legal authorities and stormed into the building? And how should the story of today’s events unfold in the Nation’s media over the next several days?
UPDATE: Since Howley and the American Spectator were caught and exposed - they have begun a nifty editorial dance to try and rewrite the story - doing away with all of the confessions of unethical journalism and criminal liability. But here is a screengrab I took of the original story last night (anticipating such an attempt): http://i789.photobucket.com/albums/yy178/cgrapski/StandoffinDC2011-10-0901-42-38.png