Private plane crashes into Austin, TX IRS building; two unaccounted for

Via the NY Times:

A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service plowed his small plane into an office building housing nearly 200 federal tax employees on Thursday, officials said, setting off a raging fire that sent workers fleeing as thick plumes of black smoke poured into the air.

A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack — whose home was set on fire just before the crash — and said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence ”is the only answer.”

Federal law enforcement officials have said they were investigating whether the pilot, who is presumed to have died in the crash, slammed into the Austin building on purpose in an effort to blow up IRS offices. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

”Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer,” the long note on Stack’s Web site reads, citing past problems with the tax-collecting agency.

”I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well,” the note, dated Thursday, reads.

At least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted for and two people were hospitalized, said Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton. She did not have any information about the pilot. About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford the agency was trying to account for all of its workers. After the plane crashed into the building, flames shot out, windows exploded and workers scrambled to safety. Thick smoke billowed out of the second and third stories hours later as fire crews battled the blaze.

Stack is dead. Some reports say he had a passenger, also killed.

Because of his choice of targets and the strong anti-tax sentiment, some will probably try to tie Stack to the Tea Party movement.  This seems unlikely. Stack’s political convictions seem only to align with the populists’ on a blanket opposition to taxation. The terrorist’s rambling suicide note makes no reference to Pres. Obama, but does condemn George W. Bush. Unlike the libertarian and self-styled Constitutional originalist Tea Partiers, Stack’s antimosity is aimed equally at The State and capitalism, describing the “ideology” of American society “a total and complete lie,” and ending the screed thusly:

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

GM specifically and “corporate greed” more broadly are also condemned.

Stack was disgruntled with the American healthcare system, and was apparently for the Obama’s reform program; he hated the government, but wasn’t afraid of death panels.

  [T]he joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies.  Yet the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”.  It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

Also, contra the populist movement’s theocratic conviction in a divine mandate for the American state, Stack rails against the Catholic Church and “the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living.”

4 Responses

  1. How very, very said. I watched CNN as it was happening. I read the suicide letter. Mr. Stack was a very disturbed and angry man. He seemed to blame ALL his problems on EVERYONE. I consider him a terrorist. One who is suicidal…carefully and methodically takes his own life. Mr. Stack seemed bent on murder as his final statement.

    How very, very sad.


  2. Very interesting post. I think that Stack is part of a growing problem. The American people know that they are not being treated well. They are rightly angry about this. Of course, Stack’s actions were appauling and no sensible person recommends them. But rather than simply condemn him as a right-wing terrorist or a left-wing terrorist, we should probably see him as endemic of a deep problem with American government, a problem that must be adressed if it is not to grow far far worse.

  3. I don’t think Stack is endemic of anything. There are lone gunmen in every epoch, at every pitch of prosperity and of depression. He uses the current socio-economic climate as an excuse, a conspirasy theory to explain his personal problems. (To quote Stack himself: “As usual they [the government] left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY!”) Like most lone fanatics, he has a high degree of ressentiment and a persecution complex. That complex took the shape of contemporary political debates. Just because strains of his rhetoric repeat right-wing anti-statist rhetoric and left-wing anti-corproate sentiments doesn’t mean he had any insight to the Zeitgeist. He just repeated what he heard.
    There are grievous sicknesses in our political processes. But Stack tells us about neither the etiology or the cures.
    Also, just because I was arguing he wasn’t a teabagger doesn’t mean I was insinuating he was a left-wing terrorist. He doesn’t appear to have had any coherent political position, but only justified his own egotism in politicized language. I think he only quoted Marx becasue he found his own spin on to quote to be terribly clever.
    Nor was I sticking up for the teapartiers. I was merely making a distinction between Stack and TPers because a.) a lot on the left will probably erroneously draw the connection, and b.) a lot on the right will probably make unfair sweeping generalizations about the left and liberals because of the aforementioned leftists’ errors.
    The rhetoric of the TPers ought to worry anyone. (Though, as I’ve argued above, Stack does not seem to have been inspired by them.)Two have already come with loaded weapons to rallies; I think it’s only a matter of time until one of them is whipped into actual violence. But it hasn’t happened yet.

  4. Fair enough, but look at the Craziness of others!

    That does scare me!

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