A gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, September 16th. Thirteen people are dead – including the gunman. At least eight others were injured. Aaron Alexis, from Fort Worth, Texas was identified as the gunman. It’s been reported that he was a Navy reservist, but had been discharged for a pattern of misconduct in 2011.
How did he get past security into the secure Navy Yard base with weapons to attack these innocent people? Well, he had legitimate access to the Navy Yard. He just used it. Why he still had access to the Navy Yard given his history and problems will be debated in the media in the days to come. In fact this horrific event will probably dominate coverage for weeks to come.
So, here’s what I predict will be the media focus for he remainder of the week:
- Benghazi Mess: Let’s just forget this, and the dead ambassador and 3 other dead Americans. Let’s just forget the multitude of CIA agents on the ground the night last September – and quit wondering what they were doing and why no one will talk about it. One of my contacts from Libya contacted me yesterday and told me things are getting worse and worse in Benghazi. Everyone has weapons, violent crime is on the rise – he’s praying for safety and peace. I’m waiting for answers. I don’t think I’ll get them.
- Egyptian Stability: Let’s just forget the suicide bombers that killed six Egyptian soldiers in two separate attacks in the Sinai. Or that a bomb ripped through a convoy of cars carrying Egyptian interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. (The Minister is ok, a police offer was killed.) Let’s just live with “emergency law” and curfews. Why trouble ourselves with military rule, lack of freedom and growing radicalism. These things always sort themselves out over times, right? Right???
- Syria and Chemical Weapons: Sorry, my dear. You seemed so exciting and important for a while. You had all the world looking at you, fascinated by you, terrified of what you might become. But you’ve been replaced now – you’re not current enough. Your 15 minutes of fame is nearly over. I hope that all goes well between you, Mr. Assad and President Putin as they seek to find and destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons. I’m sure that will go just as planned – as those things always do…
What will dominate coverage? Two issues:
- How safe is any facility from attack. How did Aaron Alexis get into the Navy Yard? How did he get in there with weapons? How had he kept this credentials that would give him access to the facility even after he had been discharged? And why did he do it?
- Gun control laws. This issue will rise up big – again. You will hear it over and over again about the horrible acts of violence that are committed by people who own and use guns. This recent incident provides one more reason to inflame the debate about gun ownership in the US. But before you get sucked in to that – just remember that gun crimes in the US have actually fallen since 1993, based on research from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and a Pew Research Center study, an article by the Atlantic and also a report from NBC News.
What happened today at the Navy Yard is a tragedy – and my heart goes out to those families who lost someone today – so senselessly and unexpectedly. But if you ever needed a good distraction to take your eyes off foreign policy and redirect it to gun owners rights – this is how it could be done. Meanwhile, US foreign policy continues to confuse, embarrass and exhibit ineffectiveness. Problems in our world are not new; they’re pretty common. Finding extraordinarily wise leaders – now that is the rarity.