Editor admits to ‘infiltrating’ D.C. protest to undermine ‘Occupy’ movement
An assistant editor for the conservative magazine The American Spectator admitted in print Saturday to infiltrating an antiwar protest in Washington, D.C. in hopes of undermining the “Occupy” movement.
Patrick Howley — “for journalistic purposes” — was one of the antiwar protesters who clashed with security staff at The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on Saturday, leading to one arrest and numerous people being pepper-sprayed.
The progressive blog Firedoglake has condemned the editor as an agent provocateur, but it is unclear if Howley actually incited the clash with security guards.
According to the conservative writer, he rushed into the museum entrance with only a handful of other protesters.
“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,” he said.
“As far as anyone knew I was part of this cause,” Howley wrote, “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.”
The “mock and undermine” portion of the article was later removed without comment after numerous media outlets, including The Washington Post, New York magazine and The Guardian, reported the story. The URL of the article was also changed.
The protest was part of the “October 2011 Stop the Machine” antiwar demonstration. The protesters planned to demonstrate against the drone exhibit at the museum.
Howley, conflating the antiwar protest with the “Occupy” movement, wondered if the “ill-defined, anti-corporate and anti-bailout protests” were dangerous, but concluded that without ideological uniformity and a willingness to boldly confront authority, the “protesters have no political power.”
Some of those in the museum demonstration were affiliated with the “Occupy D.C.” protest group that began on October 1, but the two groups have made it clear that they are separate.
Updated October 10, 2011 at 1:09pm ET.