We would be far better off if our government operated more like a business for a number of reasons. When a business experiences a bad event or has a problem that interferes with its success, they utilize a technique called root cause analysis to fix the problem. Root cause analysis thoroughly reviews all the processes that are involved and identifies breakdowns. Plans can be developed and implemented to correct the problem. In government, in cases like the Naval yard killings, opportunistic politicians offer agenda driven solutions rather than solutions aimed at fixing the problem. That is why we hear calls for gun control before the gunpowder clears in tragedies like this.
Why do we hear that there were warning signs that were ignored when these shootings occur? Aaron Alexis, the Naval yard gunman, reported auditory hallucinations when he called police to a Rhode Island hotel six weeks before and said he was hearing voices in the closet and wanted to move to a Navy hotel. Such hallucinations are the hallmark of psychiatric disorders; about 75 percent of those diagnosed with schizophrenia experience voices that they can’t explain. Military officials acknowledged that Alexis had disciplinary issues including absence without permission, insubordination and disorderly conduct. Among the problems: an arrest in September 2010 by Fort Worth police after he accidentally fired a bullet into the apartment above him while he was cleaning a gun with slippery hands. Prosecutors determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a recklessness case.
Some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood gunman, as a student said they saw clear signs that he had no place in the military. As it turns out, Nine Army officers received reprimands for missing the warning flags raised by Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Hasan as he rose through the ranks of the military. The Secretary of the Army said the officers failed to meet the “high standards” expected of Army officers when they supervised Hasan at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Really, high standards in the military? In the case of Alexis who had a poor track record, he was discharged with an honorable discharge rather than a general or dishonorable discharge. Why? If given a less than honorable discharge he would not have been given the security clearance as a contractor which allowed him to have the weapons on the military base. Did the military cut him a break? At what price? So perhaps we need to not only review the process of granting security clearance, but also review the military personnel management systems.
There is also another disturbing element present in many mass murders, the use of SSI (psychiatric) drugs by the killers. Even worse is the fact that the press ignores this so easily seen connection to mass murders. Despite it being reported that prescription drugs were found in the apartment of ‘Batman’ shooter James Holmes days after the Aurora massacre, it took nine months to find that the drugs were psychiatric drugs . Like Columbine killer Eric Harris, Holmes had been taking Zoloft, another SSRI drug linked with violent outbursts. There are literally hundreds of examples of mass shootings, murders and other violent episodes that have been committed by individuals on psychiatric drugs over the past three decades. The number of cases is staggering. Why is the corporate media so disinterested in pursuing this clear connection?
The virtue of the American military has always been its ability to take anyone, despite their background, and mold them into a loyal soldier. Confederate prisoners became “galvanized Yankees” on the frontier freeing up Federal troops to fight their own kinsmen. German immigrants fought in France in World War I and II. The 442 Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion were formed from Japanese-Americans served courageously in Europe. Native Americans, with no great reason to love the American government, did love the Army and fought with as scouts, line infantrymen, and Code Talkers. Yet this has been tested in the last several years with the Fort Hood shooting, the 1998 arrest of former Special Forces sergeant Ali Mohammed, a former major in the Egyptian army before immigrating to the United States and joining the US Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, NC., the arrest In 2003 of Army Chaplain (Captain) James Yee who was charged with espionage and sedition based on his dealings with al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo, the conviction of his assistant, Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, the arrest and conviction of civilian translator Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, also stationed at Guantanamo, the conviction in 2004 of Army Specialist Amir Abdul Rashid who was sentenced to life in prison for providing sensitive information to al-Qaeda, in September 2004 SFC Abdullah Webster was sentenced to prison for refusing to deploy to Iraq (testifying on behalf of Sergeant Webster was Air Force Chaplain Captain Hamza Al-Mubarak who claimed it was better for Webster to die than to fight fellow Muslims), in 2008 Navy Signalman Hassan Abu Jihaad was sentenced to ten years for divulging classified information to al-Qaeda and let’s not forget that on March 23, 2003, the eve of our invasion of Iraq, Army Sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar tossed a hand grenade into the command post of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division killing two officers and wounding fourteen others including the brigade commander.
Coincidences? I think not. The military, a part of a government seething with political correctness, ignores the mountain of evidence that it has in dealing with Muslims in the military. The military must break out of its political correctness mode and do a much better job vetting personnel, especially with Muslims (oh no racial profiling).
We have many gun control laws in place. Calling for more gun control after these events is opportunistic feel good politics, not serious problem solving. How was Aaron Alexis able to get a legal gun permit? One shortcoming of the database is the lack of data from mental health professionals. Why not ask psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors (including school counselors) to report to this database? Of course we will hear the high and mighty privacy arguments and protection of doctor patient privilege. Smart people should be able to devise reasonable reporting requirements for mental health professionals. And we should hold them accountable if they fail to report, especially when such reporting could have prevented a tragedy.
There are a number of places to look to prevent mass killings. Better background checks, a look at the us of SSI drugs, better personnel management in the military, improved security clearance process for government contractors, better enforcement of existing laws, and throw out political correctness in favor of common sense. Simple calls for gun control are irresponsible and non-responsive.