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Terrorism

The Madness AFTER Chattanooga

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Muhammad Abdulazeez took a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns, got into his rented silver Mustang and prepared to die. But first, he meant to take as many American military personnel with him as possible. He first drove to a recruiting facility located in a Chattanooga strip mall and emptied the magazine of his rifle into it. No one was hurt. Even as police were racing to the scene of this first attack, Abdulazeez drove to his next target, the Navy Operational Support Center. He plowed his car through the gates, then entered the facility. He first encountered Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith and gunned him down.[1]

The assassin continued his progress through the building even as military personnel were rushing to evacuate it. As they did so, at least two men returned in an effort to stop the killer. One of these men was Lt. Commander Timothy White, who discharged his personal firearm at Abdulazeez. It is still unsure if he injured him, but the naval office did not kill him: the terrorist was still able to kill four more Marines as they attempted to get outside the facility gate[2]. The assault was finally ended when Chattanooga police closed in on the assailant. Either they gunned him down or he took his own life. Either way, Mohammed Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti naturalized American and recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, lay dead along with four Marines. Specialist Smith died of his wounds two days later.

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Lt. Commander White is now being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). No, not by Special Agent Gibbs. Military personnel are not authorized to carry personal weapons in federal installations, whether on or off duty. He can be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Now, to be fair, an investigation is not an indictment; and of course the FBI and NCIS are obligated to conduct an investigation after a domestic terror attack. And of course it is purely “by the book” to make no comment when asked if Lt. Commander White faces charges[3]. But one wonders who the idiot is running PR at Navy JAG[4]. A man who went back into the belly of the beast and risked his life in an effort to save his fellows? A man hailed as a hero by popular acclamation as soon as the news of his actions broke? Someone has been mishandling the press statements badly. And what is President Obama thinking? As Commander-in-Chief, he could cut this charade short.

Apparently, the Department of Defense has realized its mistake, for “anonymous sources” now say that it is unlikely any charges will be levied against the officer. They had better not be, but who knows? It would be a typical piece of military bureaucracy: FUBAR. If the Navy feels so strongly about upholding the UCMJ then give the Lt. Commander a summary Article 15, a form of non-judicial punishment that is the military equivalent to a slap on the wrist. But give him a Navy Medal too, for bravery beyond the call of duty.

Decorate this officer, Mr. President.

I also pray for the families of the victims, may God grant them the grace to bear their loss:

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan
Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells
Staff Sgt. David Wyatt
Sgt. Carson Holmquist
Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith

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Sources and Notes

[1] Catherine E. Shoichet & Gary Tuchman, ”Chattanooga shooting: 4 Marines killed, a dead suspect and questions of motive,” CNN, 17 July 2015

[2] David Larter, “Sources: Navy officer, Marine fought to take out Chattanooga gunman,” Navy Times, 24 July 2015

[3] Rebecca Kaplan, “Controversy over Navy Lt. Cmdr. who fired at Chattanooga shooter,” CBS News, 04 August 2015

[4] Judge Advocate General

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“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.“

John Adams

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