AP Report on Guilty Plea in Cleveland Bombing Plot Grudgingly Notes, Then Downplays Occupy Movement Connection

On May 2, Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters ran down a list of national media outlets which failed to report the Occupy movement connections of the five men arrested by the FBI for plotting to blow up a suburban Cleveland bridge, despite the fact that the Cleveland Plain Dealer began noting those relationships from the get-go.

Matt wrote that the Associated Press recognized the connections, but watered it all down by "letting an Occupy Cleveland spokesman's claim the men 'weren't affiliated with or representing the group' go unchallenged." Yesterday, after one of the five arrested entered a guilty plea to avoid a probable life sentence, an unbylined AP report waited until the final of 13 paragraphs to even mention Occupy, and then proceeded to engage in the same dishonest downplaying -- even though evidence revealed a few days after Matt's post proved an undeniable, high-level relationship (bolds are mine; HT Instapundit):

1 Ohio bridge bomb plot suspect pleads guilty

One of five men charged with plotting to bomb an Ohio highway bridge pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against his co-defendants.

Anthony Hayne, 35, of Cleveland, who has a criminal record for theft and breaking and entering, pleaded to all three counts against him in U.S. District Court. His attorney, Michael O'Shea, said Hayne hopes to get leniency in return for his testimony.

Under the terms of the surprise plea deal, Hayne will have the chance to avoid a life prison term. With the plea and offer of testimony for the prosecution, he could face 15 years to nearly 20 years in prison.

"I don't think any of these guys intended harm to human beings," O'Shea said. "I think they just thought this was a way of making some sort of political statement. But I'm relatively confident none of these people had any desires to actually hurt anybody." [1]

... Authorities have called the men anarchists, and investigators say the group planted what turned out to be a dud bomb provided by an FBI undercover informant on a bridge south of Cleveland and then tried to detonate it.

... The five were charged with plotting to bomb a bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs [2] by placing what they thought were real explosives at the site and repeatedly trying to detonate them using text messages from cellphones, according to the FBI affidavit.

(Paragraphs 12 and 13)

... The men also discussed other potential targets, including a law enforcement center, oil wells, a cargo ship or the opening of a new downtown casino, according to a prosecution affidavit. [1]

The five had been associated with Occupy Cleveland, but organizers of the movement have tried to distance the group from the men. They say the five didn't represent it or its nonviolent philosophy.

Notes:

[1] -- Mr. O'Shea's claim that the five "intended (no) harm to human beings" is directly contradicted in Paragraph 12. Law enforcement centers have people present around the clock, and a casino opening would be attended by thousands of "human beings." The AP either shouldn't have carried the quote, or should have noted the FBI's identification of the group's other plans immediately thereafter

[2] -- Really, AP? What does the fact that the suburbs might be "wealthy" have to do with anything? Does that somehow make them deserving targets?

[3] -- Let's run this one down piece by piece.

First -- "had been associated with Occupy Cleveland." This is written as if the association was in the distant past. Uh, no. The men were "associated," up to and including the day of the foiled bombing. In fact, Paula, a diarist at Red State, relayed reports on the day of the arrests that one of them, Brandon Baxter, "was planning to use his position as a leader in Occupy Cleveland to divert attention away from the planned terror attack," and that "The group thought the Occupy May Day protest would provide not only a good distraction ... but also (by making sure they were seen there) an alibi."

Next -- "the five didn't represent it." As already seen, Baxter saw himself as a "leader." Far more damning, on May 6, the Plain Dealer reported that Haynes, the person now pleading guilty, "signed the lease for a West Side warehouse where about a dozen members of the Occupy Cleveland group live." As in, he was "representing" Occupy Cleveland when he did that.

Finally -- the unchallenged assertion about the Occupy movement's and Occupy Cleveland's "nonviolent philosophy." Evidence presented in a Wednesday Ohio Liberty Coalition press release, if you excuse the expression, blew that claim to bits:

The Ohio Liberty Coalition today disclosed disturbing information implicating Occupy Movement leader Caleb Maupin and unidentified members of the faculty at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, OH (a western suburb of Cleveland -- Ed.) who, in a meeting on campus this year, specifically called for “someone to be sacrificed” and said the Occupy Movement needed “another Kent State” to “get the riots going before this election.” The information, which was provided by a person who attended the meetings, was given by the OLC to the FBI field office in Akron and to other law enforcement agencies in June. The OLC also delivered a letter to Baldwin-Wallace President, Robert Helmer, making him aware that these meetings are taking place on his campus and are, in some cases, believe to be led by members of his faculty. The letter calls for the College to investigate the involvement of faculty members in Occupy Meetings and to disclose if any faculty members reported the call for “another Kent State” to his office or to authorities.

In releasing the letter and the information about the plot to “sacrifice someone” OLC President Tom Zawistowski explained “This is further evidence that the Occupy Movement is not about political activism, but is really about breaking the law and creating civil unrest. It is our understanding that some of the Occupy Movement members who plotted to blow up the bridge in Cleveland were at this meeting. What responsibility does Caleb Maupin and members of the BW faculty have for instigating their actions? Clearly the bridge bombing is only part of the violence that the Occupy Leaders are planning. Hopefully the exposing of those plans will help law enforcement keep them from happening.”

Zawistowski concluded by saying, “What is most disturbing to common citizens is that the activities of people like Caleb Maupin in Ohio, are paid for by union dues from the UAW and SEIU. Plus they are given support and direction by factions of the Democratic Party nationally and top members of the Ohio Democratic Party. This type of activity is not part of our political process and the Democratic Party and its Union supporters need to end their involvement with the Occupy Movement immediately. Lives are clearly at stake here.”

Someone at the Associated Press is going to have explain away what OLC has asserted. If they can't, the only proper course of action for the wire service would be to revise its writeup to present a counter to Occupy's claims to be "nonviolent." I know; dream on.

The AP and the rest of the establishment have demonstrated on multiple occasions that they would never show such restraint if anyone associated with the Tea Party movement were involved in matters such as those described in this post.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.