Authorities have identified 36 year-old John Patrick Bedell as the man who calmly opened fire at a Pentagon checkpoint Thursday, wounding two police officers before being killed himself. His Internet activity suggests a deeply paranoid man with strange obsessions.
According to the AP, Bedell walked up to a Pentagon checkpoint at 6:40pm on Thursday, drew a gun and began shooting. Richard Keevill, the chief of Pentagon police told the AP:
"He just reached in his pocket, pulled out a gun and started shooting... He walked up very cool. He had no real emotion on his face."
Here is Bedell, also with no real emotion on his face, as he explains in a Youtube video his complex system of "information currency," which appears to have been one of his obsessions:
Bedell was clearly intelligent; he was an avid software developer and aspiring engineer who worked to develop technology he believed would lead to "liberty and justice". He was nonetheless a certifiable wackjob. Steve Huff at mediaelites has posted a summary of what can be gleaned from Bedell's Internet activity. Bedell, who had a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, believed the government was behind 9/11, and these beliefs interfaced strangely with an enthusiasm for marijuana legalization and the "Information Currency" system he explains above.
Speaking of the suicide of Marine Col. James Sabow—whom conspiracy theorists believe was assassinated by the government to cover up a 9/11 plot—Bedell wrote on his Wikipedia profile (now deleted):
I am determined to see that justice is served in the death of Colonel James Sabow, as a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions and institutions such as the coup regime of 1963 that maintains itself in power through the global drug trade, financial corruption, and murder, among other crimes.
Bedell claims these beliefs led him to attempt to devise a subversive marijuana-based monetary system based on his ideas of Information Currency. He started with a 16-plant growing operation on his balcony in Irving, CA. (In fact, Bedell uploaded a picture of his own pot plant to wikipedia.) Police discovered his plants in June 2006 and he was arrested. The felony complaint, which he posted to a pro-marijuana website, details a contentious arrest: When the police came to Bedell's door, he wouldn't let them in and began resisting arrest, pushing against police and collapsing to the floor when they tried to bring hm out of his apartment (click to enlarge):
Here's what they found:
His marijuana operation thwarted, Bedell appeared to turn his efforts to the Internet and his software development company, Infoenge. (The first post on the company's blog is October 3, 2006) With Infoeng, Bedell working on technology that might someday lead to "a USB flash drive that performs personal DNA sequencing information"—presumably as a component of his Information Currency scheme. (Click to enlarge)
Almost every trace Bedell left on the Internet from that point on displays an obsession with information—storing, retrieving, and revealing it—coupled with boilerplate Libertarian and 9/11 conspiracy theory bullshit. His wikipedia talkpage is a litany of rejected edits, detailing his efforts to insert 9/11 truther dogma into various pages. An Amazon review praises the book Inside Delta Force for its Insights into America's Secret History. And he was an active user in a pro-marijuana Internet community, to which he posted his arrest records and Information Currency ideas.
He apparently left audio recordings as well, which he posted to the Internet Archive. "Directions to Freedom," the two-part, blatantly anti-government address, proposes "directions to freedom, security, and prosperity," and could be considered his manifesto. "Directions to Freedom" opens with
Hello, thank you for listening. I have an intense personal desire for freedom and I need your help so we can, together, continue to enjoy the benefits of freedom and work toward the more perfect realization of liberty and justice in our society.
In Part two, he says:
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.
Anyone hoping for a better glimpse at what led Bedell from an obsession with the liberating power of information to senseless violence might want to start with these recordings—which appear to have been recorded around November of 2006 and are transcribed on his blog here.
What Bedell did was terrible and idiotic. But if any motivation is to be applied to his actions outside of pure insanity, simply writing him off as a brain-washed Glenn Beck zombie "teabagger" or an imbecile anti-government activist can't capture the incomprehensible complexity of his ideas and the singular weirdness going on in his brain: The Information Currency, the DNA USB drive, his unfettered optimism in technology and obsession with obscure economic theorists. He was operating on a whole other level of crazy. As a Mediaelites commenter who claims to have known Bedell writes, "this guy was one of those dudes to smart for his own good and far from a tea bagger."