Hero sues New York Times for accusing him of complicity in terrorism

Matthew Vadum Senior Vice President, Capital Research Center
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A Texas man who helped the FBI defuse a plot to firebomb the 2008 Republican National Convention is suing the New York Times for libel for claiming he was part of the violent conspiracy.

The man with the bull’s eye on his back is Brandon Darby, formerly a far-left community organizer. This defector from the left stands accused by the New York Times and by angry radical groups of being an agent provocateur. It’s just about the worst thing one can be accused of in radical circles. Unhinged anarchists across the country would love to get their hands on Darby, as The Daily Caller reported a year ago.

As he filed his lawsuit today, Darby said he was “proud of having participated in the FBI’s successful efforts to keep Americans safe” at the convention that nominated the John McCain-Sarah Palin presidential ticket. He said he was “deeply saddened” that the New York Times claimed he “‘encouraged’ the very bomb plot at the 2008 convention I put myself at risk to prevent.”

“I cannot allow a lie of this seriousness and magnitude about my character and integrity to go unanswered,” Darby said.

Thanks to the information Darby provided to authorities, police raided a residence and found gas masks, slingshots, helmets, knee pads and eight Molotov cocktails consisting of bottles filled with gasoline with attached wicks made from tampons. “They mixed gasoline with oil so it would stick to clothing and skin and burn longer,” Darby said previously.

The two anarchists also made riot shields and were ready to use them at the convention. The plotters also sought to prevent delegates from participating in the convention by blocking streets around the Xcel Energy Center.

Darby is seeking unspecified damages from the money-losing newspaper. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in state court in Hays County, Texas, outside Austin.

What exactly prompted what promises to be a David and Goliath fight in the courts?

In the Feb. 23, 2011 edition of the New York Times, James C. McKinley Jr. falsely reported that Darby had encouraged the violent conspiracy that in reality he helped thwart.

In the news article “Anarchist Ties Seen in ’08 Bombing of Texas Governor’s Mansion,” the paper claimed Darby urged two anarchists to attack the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota:

Yet federal agents accused two men from these circles of plotting to make firebombs and hurl them at police cars during the convention. An F.B.I informant from Austin, Brandon Darby, was traveling with the group and told the authorities of the plot, which he had encouraged. [emphasis added]

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota this is untrue. In a May 21, 2009 press release that office said:

A 23-year-old man from Austin, Texas, who was connected to a group that planned to disrupt the Republican National Convention in September 2008, was sentenced today in federal court on three firearms charges.

On May 21 in Minneapolis, United States District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis sentenced David Guy McKay to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release on one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, one count of illegal manufacture of a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm with no serial number. McKay pleaded guilty on March 17.

Today’s sentence included a finding by Judge Davis that McKay obstructed justice at his January trial by falsely accusing a government informant, Brandon Darby, of inducing him to manufacture the Molotov cocktails.

In fact, McKay admitted to the court that he lied about Darby’s role in the plot. “I embellished – I guess actually lied – that Brandon Darby came up with the idea to make Molotov cocktails,” McKay told court in 2009.

McKay was sentenced in May 2009 to 48 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for possession of an unregistered “firearm,” illegal manufacture of a firearm and possession of a firearm with no serial number. A week before, his co-conspirator Bradley Neil Crowder cut a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to 24 months in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm. McKay received the stiffer sentence largely because he lied about Darby’s participation in the criminal conspiracy.

Yet somehow these publicly available facts could not be located by the seemingly Google-averse reporting staff at the New York Times, America’s supposed newspaper of record.

This is not a minor mistake. The implication the newspaper made was that these young men aren’t really to blame for what they did because Darby manipulated them into doing it.

In an amazing non-coincidence, the storyline for “Better This World,” a piece of George Soros-funded celluloid agitprop that attempts to rehabilitate McKay and Crowder, happens to share this through-the-looking-glass point of view. The film is set to debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, which opens today.

This is not the first time the New York Times has mugged Darby. It provided hostile coverage when he revealed himself as an informant. A Jan. 5, 2009, article focused on the feelings of “betrayal” his former allies in left-wing anarchist circles were experiencing, not on Darby’s lifesaving intervention.