Since the Navy Yard shooting began yesterday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has been one of the most blameworthy public officials in terms of supplying the public with disinformation and sowing confusion.
His pressers yesterday with MPD Chief Cathy Lanier were appalling. At one point, the two conveyed the panic-inducing and contradictory message that there were two potential shooters still on the loose (which, had it been true, would have clearly suggested terrorism), yet there was not reason to believe the shooting had been a terrorist act.
But that’s nothing compared to this ridiculous CNN interview (h/t The Blaze), which the Washington Post cited this morning. Prompted by his interviewer to comment on the fact that Aaron Alexis had somehow passed multiple background checks despite having arrests on his record that suggested serious anger issues (Alexis once shot out someone’s car tires and somehow got the charges dropped), Gray resorted to the first refuge of scoundrels in government: Sequestration!
His comment on sequestration comes right at the end of this video:
“It’s hard to know (what could have prevented it),” Gray said on CNN. “We’re continuing this investigation. But certainly, as I look at for example sequestration, which is about saving money in the federal government being spent, that we somehow skimped on what would be available for projects like this, and then we put people at risk. Obviously 12 people have paid the ultimate price for whatever — you know, whatever was done to have this man on the base.”
Now here’s what you need to know about this explanation: It’s an excremental lie, a totally bogus claim for which the mayor should be ashamed. In actual fact, the Navy has been skimping on background checks since long before “sequestration” meant anything outside the context of a jury. The Pentagon has been rubber-stamping clearances, not only for people like Alexis with slightly dodgy pasts, but even for actual convicted felons, Time reported yesterday.
The problem was serious enough by September 2012 (around the time President Obama promised that sequestration would never happen) that the Defense Department’s inspector general began an audit of the system, whose results will be released soon. (Update: The report is out, and it covers a period beginning in April 2010.) If our military wants to spend its money wisely, it could invest more in these checks and less on unnecessary weapons systems. even better, it could stop paying ten times the market price for fuel out of misguided environmental concerns.
Gray had no business adding this falsehood about sequestration into the public conversation, but as with his performance yesterday, he has a knack for creating confusion.