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'Crazy, psycho downward spiral' of Austin tax protester revealed in FBI documents

During the morning rush hour of Feb. 18, 2010, Joseph Stack flew his small private airplane into the northwest Austin building that was home to an Internal Revenue Service office.

Stack died in that fiery crash. So did an IRS revenue agent.

When this terrible event happened, I decided not to give it much coverage. I didn't want to provide  the disturbed and disgruntled Stack, who had a long history of run-ins with the IRS, any semblance of credibility.

Follow-up friday icon I am similarly torn now. But as I did 18 months ago, I'm opting for "just the facts, ma'am" in today's Follow-up Friday post.

As reprehensible as we find Stack's deadly attack on the men and women of the IRS who were simply doing their jobs that winter morning, it's also important to be aware of the motivations of these types of domestic terrorist fringe groups.

And the information in the recent Austin American-Statesman's report on the FBI investigation into the Stack case provides just that insight.

The newspaper obtained via a Freedom of Information Act filing nearly 1,000 pages of documents in the FBI's case file on Stack.

The federal law enforcement investigation reveals details on such things as Stack's attempted tax deductions, including one he tried to claim for the plane that he eventually used in the attack, as well as the escalation of Stack's apparently unjustified frustration with the IRS and the federal government in general.

Those closest to Stack recognized that he had "been doing this crazy, psycho downward spiral thing." Sadly, they weren't able to stop it or him.

It's not unusual for reasonable people to occasionally vent about their taxes and the complexity of the system. But nothing any government employee, with the IRS or another agency, did or does or ever will do warrants the type of destructive reaction chosen by Stack.

And by not forgetting the awful personal and professional costs of such a horribly misguided tax protest, perhaps we can prevent future tragedies.

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