Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: D.C. shooting points to need for better backgrounding

Investigators are still learning about Aaron Alexis, the gunman who killed 12 people Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. Yet a central question authorities must address is whether Alexis, a civilian contractor for the Navy with a troubled personal history, should have had the security clearance to work at the military base.

Alexis' confrontational and bizarre behavior, his troubles with the police and his reported gun violence all raise serious questions about how the Navy and its private-sector contractors vet employees who have regular access to military installations across the United States. Last month, police in Rhode Island responded to Alexis' hotel after he complained he was hearing voices, being followed and kept awake by people sending vibrations into his body through a microwave machine.

Alexis identified himself as a Navy contractor, and police sent the report to the Newport naval base. But authorities there never forwarded the information to their superiors in Washington. The episode did not keep Alexis from being assigned later to Washington, where he used a valid security pass to gain access Monday morning to the Navy Yard. Alexis' earlier episodes — from his insubordination as a Navy reservist to his being twice investigated in other states for shooting-related violence — also weren't enough to revoke his security clearance.

Alexis' conduct apparently hovered in a gray area short of what would have disqualified him as a military contractor. Despite his problems in the Navy, he was honorably discharged, which cleared the way to receive a security pass. No charges were filed in either gun incident. And while Alexis sought care from the Department of Veterans Affairs for insomnia and reportedly complained about suffering from posttraumatic stress, he was not committed on mental grounds. And Alexis legally purchased the shotgun that police said he used in the shootings.

The Obama administration correctly has ordered reviews of base security and the backgrounding process for defense contractors. At a minimum, authorities need to answer how Alexis brought a gun into the Navy Yard and how they intend to restrict weapons going forward. Even if there was no single red flag that could have led to Alexis' security status being revoked, the escalation of trouble in his life, combined with his reaching out for psychiatric treatment, should have brought greater scrutiny by the Navy. Contractors are a vital part of the modern military — indeed, the entire government. But this case shows a gap in determining who is suitable to be allowed to work on a military base.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18