On Saturday October 8, 2011, video was released onto the Internet showing a frenzied group of protesters outside of the National Air and Space Museum dodging a pair of Smithsonian security guards indiscriminately pepper-spraying the crowd. Something inside the Museum, moments before, caused this chaos which led to the Museum being shut down for the rest of the day. The events have since been used, by their portrayal in the media, to tarnish the image of the #Occupy protests emerging across the nation.
What happened inside the Museum to cause the police action has not been reported. Only today, Monday, are reports starting to hit the major media that there is evidence of the involvement of an editor from the Conservative magazine The American Spectator at the center of what took place this weekend in Washington D.C..
Saturday afternoon when I discovered an article published by Patrick Howley on the Spectator’s website entitled “Standoff in D.C.” I immediately began to analyze the evidence in light of the events portrayed in Howley’s piece. I found a photograph taken by the reporters from OpEdNews.com that showed Howley alongside another man in a confrontation with a uniformed security officer in the entranceway to the museum moments before the initial use of pepper-spray. With the exception of Howley’s claim that he stood down a “300-pound guard,” the photo fit perfectly with the scenario described in Howley’s account. (None of the guards present on the scene even remotely fit this description or even his later toned down “heavyset” language.)
Central to the story were the outright confessions of Howley that he was an active participant in the events, rather than an observer, who openly admits his intent to use the action to discredit the nascent movement. Far more problematic are Howley’s boastful statements of openly defying the security-guard’s directives, forcing his way into the then closed Museum, being pepper-sprayed as a result and then pursued by the security forces, together with his subsequent activities in the Museum while actively seeking to evade being caught.
Given the evidence I had gathered on Saturday I wrote two online pieces (one on DailyKos and the other at Firedoglake) openly calling Howley an “agent provocateur”. He was, I continue to maintain, seeking to entice others to engage in unlawful acts as a means of generating a story he could use to discredit the protests, the protesters, and the movement. His employer, The American Spectator, I assert, directly aided him in these acts.
Critically challenging my description of Howley and the role of The American Spectator, David Weigel has argued the following today in Slate:
I’m seeing some commentary and analysis that argues Howley egged on the protesters, somehow, by going slightly further — by accident! — than they did. No, I’m not buying it. Howley stumbled upon conservative media gold by covering the October 11 movement’s co-opting of Occupy Wall Street/Occupy DC.
According to Weigel this Spectator editor was merely observing the events as a journalist and reporting what happened. The protesters were to blame and no evidence has been presented that Howley’s actions had anything to do with the actions of others or the police reaction and pepper-spray response. The disruption at the Museum was solely the responsibility of the protesters and the successful co-optation of the Movement by an anti-war group with its own unrelated agenda.
The problem for Weigel, however, is that he appears to rely solely on a revised edition of Howley’s story published hours after the stories I wrote began to spread around the internet and critical questions had begun to be asked. In fact the Spectator clearly knew that they had been exposed when the Washington Post picked up the story yesterday afternoon. By the time Weigel was on the story the editors of the magazine had already been engaged in damage control and attempted to re-write history.
When Howley’s controversial admissions gained this level of attention and national discussion over the Internet the revision of the story began.
An analysis of the original unedited piece and the focus of the revisions reveals clearly the recognition of guilt, perhaps even legal culpability or liability for the actions of their employee, by The American Spectator.
What becomes obvious upon reading the two related pieces side-by-side is that alterations were made to eliminate Howley’s original braggadocio-filled portrayal of his roles. He was both infiltrator of the protest and initiator of the conflict. In what follows, I demonstrate the undeniable conclusions that this was not the report of an ambitious and aggressive journalist who luckily stumbled upon a golden opportunity by being among those whose actions constituted a newsworthy story. This is the story of an immature individual being placed in a position of responsibility by those who feign journalism to hide their own political and self-interested agenda – and are willing to do anything to shape public opinion to their advantage.
The original article starts out as a handful of protesters approach the Museum with the intent to enter and engage in a speech-act aimed at expressing their opposition to the use of unmanned drones in current tactics of warfare. Decisions had been collectively made the day before in open meetings, in which Howley participated actively, on how to engage in this protest. The plan was not to disrupt the Museum, shut it down, or initiate a confrontation with the authorities.
The most telling evidence we have of the nature of those protesting, and their intent, are found in Howley’s complaint that they “lacked the nerve to confront authority.” By his own admission, evidenced with his eyewitness account, those present around him were peaceful and respectful, even if they had a critical message to deliver, and sought neither confrontation nor disruption.
In fact, most of those he was among chose not even to attempt to enter the Museum and instead to express their views from the outside. A handful of them broke off from the rest and sought entrance. The first few obtaining it lawfully and at some point two of them unfurling a banner which was held up by two men from the first floor and hung down to the foyer below. Accounts of the security forces confronting those men indicate that there was no violence or physical force used other than an attempt to tear down the banner. No pepper-spray was used and no arrests or attempts to detain the men were made.
At about this time Howley entered the first set of doors to the Museum into a small space that separated the outside from another set of doors leading into the Museum. Howley states that at this point “white-uniformed security guards hurried to physically block the entrances” to block additional protesters from entering. Howley’s first-hand account, if it is to be given credibility, should be calling into question the first reports that hundreds of angry protesters attempted to rush the security and force their way into the Museum. These reports were clearly erroneous – gross exaggerations at best.
According to Howley the overwhelming majority of the hundred or so protesters who participated in the march were unwilling to seek entrance to the Museum. Instead, only a handful broke off from the rest to make the attempt. The plan decided at their prior meeting was to sing songs and display their banner.
“Only a select few – myself included – kept charging forward,” according to Howley’s admission about the activities that followed the attempt to prevent admission to those associated with the protest.
The objectives of those who later edited and re-published the altered article are revealed clearly in the attempt to cover over Howley’s role in the events and shift him from having been an active participate to merely a passive observer – a reporter merely getting the story. The final sentence of the first paragraph, quoted above, now includes the following caveat: He, in fact, only “kept charging forward” past the guards and into the Museum “for journalistic purposes”.
The original narrative does not reveal that purpose and clearly conflicts with the further admissions that Howley’s intention, all along, had been “to mock and undermine [the cause] in the pages of The American Spectator.” He was not, he boldly declared, going to give up “before I had my story.”
In the aftermath, the officials of the Museum presented what could have been expected. Without themselves reviewing the evidence they adamantly asserted that their response was appropriate and according to proper procedure in the given context. This position, however, overlooks what has been captured on video for the world to see – much as the initial response of Chief Ray Kelly on behalf of the NYPD claiming justification for the alleged limited use of pepper-spray by Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna ignored the clear facts presented on video. In that case it was the further video evidence of a second indiscriminate attack by Bologna a few moments later that forced officials to step out of their pre-formed responses and agree to look into the matter more carefully.
Video evidence from the Washington incident, however, shows indisputably that outside of the Museum, independent of any activities that took place a few moments before within its halls, at least two officers used their pepper-spray in an indiscriminate fashion targeting anyone and everyone that happened to be at that place at that time. In fact, just as in both of the incidents involving Bologna, the video clearly shows that one of those sprayed directly in the face was another officer who was simply there doing his job.
This video and others (clearly many people are seen with cameras and cell-phones photographing and videotaping the events as they unfolded) needs to be carefully scrutinized before any official conclusions are drawn, and must be utilized to hold accountable those who violated the law and policies – including those who did so under the color of law. In this case, however, we have further evidence in our possession in the admissions published in Howley’s own words. One of the most significant, yet still overlooked, details that must be pointed out is that the official position is that within the Museum only one person was pepper-sprayed. This is likely to be true independent of the omission of the use of force outside the doors and in the space between them where apparently most of those affected and seen on the steps of the Museum afterwards were sprayed.
We learn from Howley’s story that as he attempted to force his way past the guards in the space between the doorways he was “hit” with pepper-spray as he forced his way through the second set of doors and into the Museum. Far more telling, perhaps even incriminating, are the actions he describes in vivid detail that took place upon his being sprayed.
Howley admits to being stopped by guards in the entranceway in the space between the two doors. Along with another as yet unidentified individual, Howley claims he was confronted by a guard prohibiting him from entering the Museum via the second set of doors. Photographic evidence exists which captures this moment as Howley is seen with a man in a black t-shirt being confronted at this location by a guard and behind them a guard is blocking the door to the outside. No one is seen attempting to push their way through that door although several people are now clearly gathering outside the door.
Although he was clearly instructed by the guard that he would not be allowed into the Museum, Howley admits getting past this first guard after which he says he “sprinted toward the door.” It was in this initial attempt to force his way into the Museum via the second set of doors that Howley, in particular, was pepper-sprayed.
He continues: “I forced myself into the [second set of] doors and sprinted blindly across the floor.” Whereupon “two guards pointed at me and started running.”
With this admission that the security forces clearly focused on Howley and were in pursuit of him one has to reflect critically on Weigel’s judgments about Howley and the protesters. He gives an undue amount of credibility to the claims that Howley was merely there and acting as a journalist should – simply observing the events taking place around him – as is clearly the re-framing that the editors of the Spectator sought in their republishing of a substantially edited version of the story prior to Weigel’s column was published.
If Howley, up to this point in the action, was merely an observer seeking to capture an unfolding story, then why would he run from the authorities rather than simply identify himself as such and continue to report the situation?
Instead, as is conveniently overlooked by Weigel, Howley states that when identified by two officers, upon entering the Museum, he instead took actions to evade them. When pursued, he admits, “I dodged a circle of gawking old housewives and bolted upstairs.” Are these the actions of a neutral observer or of a guilty suspect?
These self-reported admissions do not describe a neutral observer merely attempting to report a story. Indeed they even go beyond the activities of someone merely acting as an agent provocateur, as I have called Howley thus far based on the weight of the evidence, and to which Weigel is objecting.
These published descriptions, in both versions of the story, are clear admissions of criminal acts committed by Howley at the Air and Space Museum on Saturday. Actions that he voluntarily took prior to and leading directly to the escalation of the use of force by the uniformed security contingent. The photographic evidence combined with Howley’s eyewitness account clearly show that the initial use of force was directed at him and at most, possibly, one other as yet unidentified person with unknown motives.
Howley’s unedited original statements of his actions place him between the two sets of doors with a few others clearly in sight (a few journalists with professional cameras are seen a bit further away at the door and not being confronted by any guards) and at the center of the controversy before the situation escalated into a use of force.
In fact, if Howley’s statements are true the response of the security forces, in their initial actions, appear far more reasonable and make sense. Clearly it was an error to employ pepper-spray as their means to apprehend a person forcing their way into the Museum – as this is not going to be an effective means of accomplishing this and is likely to cause problems for those in the surrounding areas. But Howley admits to rushing the doors in contravention of the orders of the guards and effectively breaking into the Museum after it was closed to the public. He brazenly describes his activities that follow as sprinting into the Museum, engaging physically with several stunned tourists (who at one point he uses as a shield), and evading the authorities by running deeper into the Museum and up the stairs.
The security forces certainly had reason to be concerned about this particular individual and his intentions and had a reasonable responsibility to apprehend him and take him into custody. So we know for certain that one person, and at most we might hold out the possibility that a second, was engaged in a physical confrontation with the security forces at the entrance to the Museum independent of the march outside or the activities of those who unfurled the banner inside.
Howley proudly reports how he forced his way past this first set of guards and drew a stream of pepper-spray to his face in the act. As he is sprayed he consciously disobeys the orders of the security personnel and rushes through the second set of doors onto the floor of the museum. Partially blinded by the effects of the pepper-spray he runs into a group of tourists, for whom his reporting shows he clearly holds in disdain, and evades capture by a second set of security officials. As they continue in pursuit of this individual, who is clearly acting inappropriately, he takes flight to the next floor where he hides himself among the Museum’s exhibits. Attempting to hide his face in his jacket, by now red and swollen from the pepper-spray, Howley blends himself in with a group of the Museum’s visitors as they attempt to leave the now closed facility and makes his swift exit.
Even at that point, as he exited, he admits that security forces attempt to stop him. As he “raced out the exit” a female guard attempted to grab his arm and detain him but he again intentionally took measures to successfully evade capture.
These are clearly not the actions of a journalist observing the scene as Weigel defends. And they are not merely the nefarious acts of an agent provocateur.
These are statements of admission by a criminal bragging of his actions and admitting his intent. Perhaps most telling in this is Howley’s own phrase to describe the events as taking place at “the scene of my crime.”
After his narrow escape with the law apparently Howley returned to the offices of The American Spectator and wrote and filed his story which was then approved and published online with its front-page headlines. Indeed it is announced as “breaking news.” A reporter has been pepper-sprayed at the scene in Washington D.C.!
What Howley and his employers had not realized was that Howley had been captured at the scene of the crime in photos and perhaps video (certainly the security surveillance cameras will be able to shed further light on the adventures of Patrick Howley). Yet they initially saw no problem with his arrogant gloating about his activities as a self-declared agent provocateur, not simply there to report but to influence the news, and placed it top-most on their stories for Saturday.
At some point in time, sometime after the story and photos had begun to go viral Saturday evening and into the morning hours, someone at the Spectator clearly realized the potential implications – to Howley and perhaps even themselves – of leaving this story up in its original form. In fact by Sunday afternoon the pressure had mounted as the circulating story had now hit the mainstream as it was picked up and reported in the Washington Post.
Thus began the attempt to re-write, or even to erase, history. A highly edited version of the story, relied upon by Weigel, replaced the original still getting top billing on the magazine’s website. This version first appeared early Sunday afternoon but the pressure continued to mount as online magazines and blog sites began reproducing the story and spreading the word. Perhaps the media, they concluded, was too quick to cast aspersions on the protests or protesters on Saturday and did not get the story right. There was an admitted agent provocateur present and by his own admission he was centrally involved in the most significant action at the scene.
Shortly thereafter someone at the magazine decided to pull the story completely. Before 5 pm Sunday the story had been removed from the site, those following the widely distributed link to the page being met with a 404 “Page Not Found” error. All traces of the story, including the top stories section of the site which had advertised this one, disappeared. But there was a problem. The story was now widely known. Taking it down completely was an admission of wrongdoing.
So by Sunday evening the story was again up – in its newly edited form. This time, however, it was not prominently featured as a major story or breaking news. In fact all references to Howley’s position as Assistant Editor of the magazine were edited out. Instead the story was relegated to the blog section of the website – as if to try and convey the idea that this was a personal story being shared by Howley and not actually assigned to him as a journalist for the magazine. The American Spectator couldn’t fully wash its hands of the mess it had gotten itself into but they were apparently determined to shift the burden and to spin the story into a fictional tale of a reporter getting caught up in the melee and being unintentionally pepper-sprayed to get his story. And David Weigel bought into it hook, line and sinker.
It isn’t hard to see the Spectator’s objectives in republishing its edited version however. Perhaps most telling is their relegation Howley to the status of
reporter editorial assistant rather than his earlier position as Assistant Editor. Clearly they knew that from a journalistic standpoint they were in trouble. But is this the only trouble they were concerned about? It is not a stretch to imagine that the legal team at the Spectator had been notified and that they would immediately recognize that the story, especially the original published version, placed their Assistant Editor in legal jeopardy. It is not much of a further stretch to assume that they also would have recognized the potential legal liability that Howley’s employers and publishers might face in light of the facts.
Does the republication of the highly edited version, however, even if the first one had not been preserved by myself and hundreds of others when the story first broke, solve those problems?
Despite the clear omissions and additions that are revealed when the two versions are placed side-by-side for comparison, and what this reveals about the motives and focus in retelling the story, the final altered product still unequivocally demonstrates that Howley went to the protests with a mission. He did not find himself stumbling on to the reporters pot of gold as Weigel wants us to believe but instead inserted himself consciously from the start in an effort to shape and guide the events as they unfolded. From his first participations in the General Assembly process to his adventures in the Museum, Howley was acting as far more than just a reporter on the scene. In fact he did not even limit himself to “going undercover” to get the story. He was the story. It is now time for those who reported the initial perceptions of the D.C. protests to go back to this story and re-report it in light of the evidence. They should be asking tough questions and seeking to gather even more of the evidence. What do the authorities have to say about this and have they been informed? Does the Museum intend to press charges? How do the publishers and chief editors of The American Spectator explain his behavior, their publication, and their attempts to later hide the truth?
What we know is that Howley’s role in attempting to influence the actions of others self-admittedly started on Friday when he claims to have “infiltrated” the group. Indeed that choice of words is itself incriminating. One does not have to infiltrate a group that is open to anyone wishing to participate. What Howley reveals in this phrasing is his intent – an intent that is clearly not consistent with fundamental and basic journalistic ethics; an intent which in fact may likely fall into the category of criminal activities.
Howley’s original reporting complains about his inability to sway the protesters in their original plans to adopt his points. What Howley said at the General Assembly meeting may be very important in determining the extent to which that criminality may extend. Certainly the Spectator goes to lengths to try to cover up this early participation by changing the reference to “my process points” that Howley complains went “un-twinkled” to the substantively different “many process points” Clearly they are attempting to remove all evidence of the active role of their infiltrator in the decision-making process that led to the protesters activities.
Another redaction that is highly revealing pertains to his reporting of the march that led to the Museum on Saturday afternoon. Originally Howley boasts that he had been “among those blocking major D.C. roads” as a participant in the march. Indeed, at times, he feared that he may have gotten “swept up in the Movement” as he joined in the chants. All reference to this activity of their reporter has now been edited out of the re-published story.
Perhaps one of the most revealing alterations comes at that point in his narrative where he identifies the only other individual near him when he is pepper sprayed as “my fellow comrade.” Again editing out Howley’s participant perspective from the story it now reads “this comrade.”
The revised narrative tries desperately, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to eliminate the more problematic elements; particularly those features of the story that implicate Howley in criminal activities. The Spectator now tries to provide a justification for Howley’s questionable entrance into the Museum, after which he admits “bolting” deeper into the Museum, when the security officials had made it clear that no one was allowed to enter.
Originally this occurs “under a cloud of pepper spray” and his subsequent actions are described with the following words: “I forced myself into the doors and sprinted blindly across the floor.”
Now, having been caught in the act and trapped by his own words, the editors of the Spectator foist on the public an implausible justification for this self-admitted behavior. The reason, Howley now claims, for his actions was that “suspecting that the entire crowd would be able to get inside” as a journalist he needed “to find a place to observe.”
While no such qualification was deemed necessary in the original self-congratulatory style of the piece this ad hoc justification fails to wash when read in the full context even of the revised version of events.
By Howley’s own admission, immediately upon entering the building, he is not seeking a vantage point for observation. Quite to the contrary, he reports that he was immediately confronted by two security officers. Rather than stop and identify himself and seek their permission to observe the event as a peaceful and uninvolved journalist he takes immediate action deliberately and admittedly to evade being apprehended.
If the original unedited story did not clearly show that Howley was not merely acting as an unprofessional journalist with no regard for the principles and ethics of the profession but instead consciously taking on the role of agent provocateur to create a story which entailed the disruption and controversy that took place at the Museum; then this fact must be recognized as having been made glaringly obvious by the actions of the Spectator after the story was published and subjected to public scrutiny. Demonstrated in their weak attempts to re-write history in the face of criticism and perhaps the possibility of legal liability is an attempt to cover over the blatently obvious active role of Howley as a participant. Not merely a participant in the protest; but a participant at the center of the controversy that caused the events which have thus far been reported portraying the protests and protesters in a negative light.
The subsequent events, caught on video, in which security officers randomly and indiscriminately pepper-spray numerous persons outside the Museum – including not only protesters not present inside and doing nothing wrong but innocent by-standers and even a fellow officer – clearly would not have occurred had not something taken place inside the Museum to cause the frenzy that occurred upon the first use of pepper-spray.
Howley’s report, in both versions, includes the admission that he was directly involved in that first use. More importantly the descriptions he gives of his activities leading up to, during, and after that initial use of force demonstrate unambiguously that his behavior was of the kind and nature that security forces and police are trained to be on the lookout for and their initial reactions, even if not the appropriate action, were justified. Howley’s admits to acts that required the security personnel to exercise their authority in the public interest, in the interest of the Museum, and in the interest of public safety.
To the majority of the protesters who witnessed the chaos that ensued outside of the Museum’s doors, including those who experienced first hand the use of pepper-spray, the actions of the security forces appeared random and uncontrolled. This perception is backed up by the video that has been made public of the scene from their vantage point.
What was needed to explain, even if it does not fully justify, the actions of the security guards was the story of what happened inside the Museum, moments before, to cause the engagement of and reactions of the individual guards. Howley’s report for The American Spectator has provided us with a substantial glimpse into the events as they unfolded. It shows that there was reason for police action at the scene and that in fact criminal activities occurred to which security forces were rightfully responding.
Whether there were any other individuals engaged in such activities remains to be seen. The photo and video evidence released thus far suggest only one other individual’s involvement in the events just prior to the initial use of pepper-spray, the man in the black t-shirt next to Howley who is confronted by the guard as he and Howley attempt to enter the building.
What is not clear is who this person is and what his actions or motives were. Was he with Howley? Howley self-servingly characterizes him as “a muscle-bound left-wing fanatic” but we don’t know if in fact he too was there to cause trouble. We know that at least one person on the scene was – and that was Howley.
But even Howley’s portrayal of the events which follow what can be seen clearly in the published photograph seem to lessen the possible role of this individual in the escalation of the use of force. According to Howley, after he forced his way past the guards and through the doors, he looked back and discovered that he was “the only one who had made it through the doors.” This suggests that this individual was not seeking to do as Howley did and enter the Museum by force but instead at most confronted the prohibition verbally. If Howley was able to force his way inside certainly this individual would have had no problem doing so. What we do know is that as Howley made his move to force his way through the entrance doors he was pepper-sprayed. It is highly likely that at this point the use of pepper-spray was limited and targeted. Clearly it was targeted at Howley – and from his portrayal of events this was not without cause.
The most important fact that needs to be emphasized in reporting this story is the fact that to date the only known person to have entered the Museum unlawfully was Patrick Howley. Professional and responsible journalists who covered the initial story have an obligation to re-tell the story in light of this new and revealing evidence. In so doing the initial blame placed either on those who went to the Museum with the Stop the Machine protests (which were independently planned long before Occupy Wall Street protests set off this national wave of participatoin) or with the Occupy D.C. or the larger protests needs to be critically re-examined.
Howley’s story reveals the missing key piece of the story that is necessary to begin to place it in its proper light. Prior to his attempt to enter the Museum and the decision to bar admission to himself and others only a handful of people associated with the protest had entered. They, however, did so without confrontation and in full compliance with the law. They were permitted onto the property.
Among those lawfully within the building two men subsequently unfurled a banner from the first floor that hung down into the foyer. It is likely that it was this act that caused the guards to decide to shut the Museum’s doors. What we know, however, is that this incident did not result in the escalation of the situation in to the use of force that then spilled out and effected those innocent individuals standing outside the Museum’s doors.
The only evidence available that provides a causal explanation for the escalation of this matter into a disruption is that provided in Patrick Howley’s own words; words that constitute a published admission of criminal intent and unlawful behavior. Words that reveal that the intention of those acts was to discredit the lawful behavior of others and tarnish, through the manipulation of the media, the reputation of the ongoing and growing Occupation movement.
A note should be made, in summary, on the contrasts of this story to those that became highlighted in the media coverage of protests in New York City. Video evidence now released shows the official response of the Museum and the D.C. police department in the aftermath of this event.
Only one arrest was made and it unfortunately targeted a young Wisconsin woman who had been caught in the cross-fire of pepper-spray near the entrance and fell to the floor suffering its effects. Notably, however, the charges were reduced to a fine and when paid she was released. This is starkly contrasted to the overreaction of mass arrests of persons on the street, including those victims of unjustified use of pepper-spray. Senior NYPD officer Anthony Bologna’s indiscriminate and vicious attack first on a group of women and then a few yards away at a person operating a camera and those who just happened to be standing in the vicinity including those with officially issued press credentials was clearly a use of force without a cause.
After Bologna’s attacks, and in gross violation of the NYPD’s written policies on the use of pepper-spray, the numerous victims were left to themselves to writhe in agony on the ground and to fend for themselves. In stark contrast the evidence now shows that the Museum officials and D.C. Police in fact took the reasonable and responsible steps of providing care to those negatively affected. EMT’s were called to the scene to treat the victims and a video now publicly available shows a senior officer speaking to those affected about the effects of the spray and what can be done to alleviate the suffering while the paramedics were en route.
Unfortunately, however, this positive side of the story is not being told and the true cause of this incident has gone relatively unnoticed by the hype being played up with a story that appears to lend force to those intent on discrediting the Movement; a movement which has been insistent on its desire to be non-violent and peaceful.
But as we see revealed in the self-gloating braggart-styled ramblings of Patrick Howley of The American Standard – this was the very intent of those responsible for the disruptive acts at the National Air and Space Museum on Saturday.
Howley and his employers have crossed the line. Not only of the standards of journalism but of decency and propriety. These were the acts of cowards and criminals. The question is whether the Museum and the Federal authorities will take this matter seriously and hold those actually responsible for the disruption and harm to account.
Read Howley’s original story. He is vocal in his criticism of the protesters in this Movement and with whom he ventured on Saturday to the steps of the National Air and Space Museum. He says of them that “they don’t have what it takes” to have political power. “Their only chance, as I saw it, was to push the envelope and go bold.” So Howley chose to act. The blame for the resulting disruption of the Federal Museum, the misuse of force by the Smithsonian security forces, the harm done to those individuals who were protesting as well as those simply visiting the Museum, the resulting waste of tax-payer dollars for the official police and emergency personnel forced to respond, and the defaming of a Movement finding resonance among millions who have felt they have been without a voice … all of these things can, with the evidence at hand, be placed with sufficient certainty at the feet of The American Spectator and its Assistant Editor, Patrick Howley.