Monday, October 10, 2011

Changing Stories on "The Infiltration" of Occupy Wall Street

Washington protest: American Spectator condemned over article

Patrick Howley claimed he infiltrated Saturday's DC protest in order to discredit it – but account has since been altered

Saturday's march was organised by the October 11 group, which protests against America's use of unmanned drones overseas. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

A conservative US news magazine has come under fire after one of its journalists boasted of being an agent provocateur at a clash between protesters and security guards in Washington.

The incident, in which guards used pepper spray on protesters trying to enter the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, was widely reported to be linked to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at the American Spectator, wrote over the weekend that he had infiltrated the protest group in order to discredit it. He said: "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."

However, Howley's breathless account of his role as provocateur – which goes on to condemn the protesters' "lack of nerve to confront authority", and his own determination to escalate the protest further as he rushed past security guards into the museum – has since been altered. The magazine appears to have taken down the story, although it has been reported in the Washington Post and on the Firedoglake and Daily Kos blogs.

Removed from the new story is any mention of Howley's motive to "mock and undermine" the protesters, or his disdain for their "lack of nerve". Instead, he says his involvement was intended for journalistic purposes, and that he rushed inside the museum "to find a place to observe."---more

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