In the wake of the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood shootings, Steve Hayes and I wrote about the FBI’s and Defense Department’s many failures with respect to Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Part of the piece focused on Hasan’s emails to al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki, which had not been made public at the time. Awlaki was subsequently killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
As a segue to talking about gun control in a speech at the National Urban League in New Orleans, Louisiana this evening, President Obama added context to the movie theater mass murder last week in Aurora, Colorado. " Every day, in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in that movie theater," President Obama said.
In brief remarks about the movie theater shooting, President Obama led the audience in prayer and a moment of silence.
"I would like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities every single day. so if everybody can just take a moment," said President Obama, and then solemnly put his down.
Campaign spokesman Andrea Saul says, in an email to reporters, "Gov. Romney’s event today will go on as planned, and he will address the tragedy in Colorado." Romney will be speaking at Coastal Forest Products in Bow, New Hampshire. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and loved ones," writes Saul.
The horrific events in Norway last Friday have been difficult to process, and killer Anders Breivik's 1,500 page manifesto is a lot to digest. Fortunately, there have been some exceptionally good pieces written about the tragedy that help provide some context and understanding for what happened and why.
President Obama’s speech in Tucson was fine, as far as it went. The protocol in such circumstances seems to require presidents to call for healing, unity, civility, fellowship, and a determination to move forward, as well as a shout-out to heroes and victims. The president appears to have done all this, and with generally satisfactory results; I leave it to others to debate whether he failed or succeeded.
Jennifer Rubin wonders whether the planned memorial service tonight in Tucson is appropriate. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, "The service is set for 8 p.m. Eastern time at the University of Arizona's basketball arena, the school said. It will include a Native American blessing, a moment of silence, a poetry reading and the presentation of a chain featuring messages from members of the public, the school announced."