SIMMONS: D.C. officials feed fear during Navy Yard crisis

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sometimes, politicians need to follow an axiom of reputable seamstresses and tailors: Measure twice and cut once.

That certainly should have been the case Monday, when D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier gave America the impression that they were large and in charge as the rampage was unfolding at the Washington Navy Yard.

They stoked fear instead of staying mum.

They fed false information instead of passing along verifiable facts.

They never were in charge.

The rule: federal installation, federal authority.

But standing before the cameras the chief tried to fool you, essentially saying be on the look out for a white guy and a black guy wearing “military-style clothing.”

“We have no information to believe that either of those folks are military personnel, but we do have information that those individuals are wearing military-style clothing,” Chief Lanier said.

False on both counts.

The FBI confirmed Tuesday that Aaron Alexis 1) acted alone, and 2) the mysterious “white man” and “black man” wearing “military-style clothing” played no part in the carnage.

As for the mayor, somebody give that man a measuring tape and a yardstick.

Appearing on CNN on Tuesday morning, Mr. Gray blamed the bloodletting on the Defense Department, saying sequestration reductions shot the Navy Yard in the foot.

“As I look at, for example, sequestration, which is about saving money in the federal government being spent, have we somehow skimped on what would be available for projects like this and then we put people at risk,” Mr. Gray said.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, as usual, has jumped into bed with the mayor, going so far as to propose President Obama appoint a special panel to look at how military facilities can blend into the community.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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