September 20, 2013
Monday’s shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, in which 12 innocent people and the shooter were killed, is yet another sad reminder that it is not only terrorists from abroad this country must fear.
The shooter on Monday, identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, had been given a general discharge from the Navy Reserve in 2011 for a “pattern of misconduct,” according to a Navy official.
Despite that, Aaron was given a security clearance classified as “secret” by the Navy as a civilian information technology contractor, giving him total access to the Navy Yard.
We don’t know, and may never know whether Alexis’ reasons for the shooting spree included his discharge from the Navy Reserve, but there is little doubt that allowing such a person access to a military facility should now raise red flags — as well as point fingers of culpability.
It seems unfathomable to us that, an individual who has a history of misconduct — including a 2010 arrest in Texas for shooting a bullet into his downstairs neighbor’s apartment — could ever be given any kind of clearance to a military property. Especially one for the branch of the military that discharged him.
But that will now be a question for those who will have to carry the burden of allowing Alexis access to the property to consider, debate and hopefully change in the near future.
Some historical tidbits about the Washington Navy Yard:
— Purchased July 23, 1798, and established on Oct. 2, 1799, as a shipbuilding center.
— It is the Navy’s oldest on-shore facility, covering 65 acres along the Anacostia River about 1.5 miles from the U.S. Capitol.
— Once used as an ordinance plant.
— Robert Fulton conducted research and testing on his clockwork torpedo there during the War of 1812.
— Burned to the ground during the War of 1812 to keep the British from capturing it.
— During the Civil War, the famous ironclad Monitor was repaired at the yard after her historic battle with CSS Virginia.
— The Lincoln assassination conspirators were brought to the yard following their capture. The body of John Wilkes Booth was examined and identified on the monitor Saugus, moored at the yard.
— The 14-inch naval railway guns used in France during World War I were manufactured at the yard.
— In December 1945 the Navy Yard was renamed the U.S. Naval Gun Factory.
— In 1964, the facility was redesignated the Washington Navy Yard.
— The locks for the Panama Canal were built there.
— Home to the Chief of Naval Operations.
— The Navy Museum is open to the public.