Sunday, September 22, 2013

if this were a movie ...

So, a former navy petty officer with a couple of minor gun-related brushes with the law and a pass into a secure navy yard, suddenly starts hearing voices and a few weeks later guns down 12 people in that secure facility for no apparent reason.

A SWAT team that probably could have stopped the murders was ordered to stand down, and no one knows why or by who. Even the patrol officers on the scene had the gunman outnumbered and were probably equipped with bullet-proof vests but they didn't try to go in and stop him unit until a half hour later when more police arrived. If either the SWAT team or the patrol officers had gone in as soon as they could, many lives could have been saved. Apparently nearly everyone who was killed was killed between the time that the SWAT team was called off and time that the police started to clear the building.

And now someone, somewhere seems to be throwing up roadblocks to finding out why the SWAT team was told to stand down. The leader has been replaced and four team members have asked for and been denied leave.

So I was thinking about how this would play out in a movie. Let's say there is a government or political agent --let's call him Mr. Jones-- who is tasked to silence a potential risk who knows something about --I don't know, some political scandal involving Libya , say. Let's call this guy Whistleblower. Let's say Whistleblower is in a sensitive position so if he dies, even in an apparent accident, there is likely to be an investigation that might cause problems. What to do, what to do.

I know! How about a workplace rampage killing? Blood, gore, weeping wives and mothers ... the whole bit. That would lead to an investigation for sure, but the investigation would be mostly focused on the killer not the victims. The news media would focus endlessly on the killer's history, his family, his mental health issues, and most importantly, on how "assault weapons" were involved and the sizes of the clips. With constant badgering on these side issues by the press, the investigators aren't going to have much time to think about hidden motives and wonder why those particular people were killed.

Unfortunately, Whistleblower works in a secure navy yard, so Mr. Jones has to find someone --let's call him Patsy-- with a security clearance to commit the act. Hmm. How about a retired navy petty officer who is still working on base as a contractor? Or maybe Mr. Jones has to get Patsy the job to get him on base. If Patsy has a couple of minor gun-related police incidents in his past, that's just terrific --something more for the press to worry at, like a dog worrying at one of those tough plastic chew toys that is all kinds of fun to chew but doesn't actually contain anything like meat.

Oh, sure, someone might point out that the explosions of workplace/school violence generally come from passive/aggressive men who want their first (and probably only) true act of violence to really count rather than the sorts of just-plain-aggressive men who shoot out someone's tires. But no one is going to care about that when they are just desperate to find a way to explain this horrific act of violence.

So you find your Patsy and pay or blackmail him somehow. You coach him to act deranged and tell him pretend to hear voices for a couple of weeks before the attack. Mr. Jones tells Patsy that he is laying the ground work for an insanity defense, but Mr Jones plans that Patsy will not survive long enough to need a defense. For Mr. Jones, the insanity act is just something to toss to investigators and press to keep them from looking for other motivations. It's also easier to do than to set up a serious work conflict to explain the killing without getting Patsy fired over the conflict.

In addition, Patsy gets some training on how to get a shotgun through security --not something one would expect a navy petty officer to know about. You also have to set up someone to control the police and navy response to make sure Patsy gets time to get to Whistleblower. Get someone on the police force to put off the response for as long as possible. Let's call him Henchman. Henchman has to be high-enough level to keep the police from going in and to keep the navy SWAT team out. As a backup, you have to get to someone in the chain of command of the SWAT team and make sure that anyone who might overrule that person is out of communication for a half hour or so.

OK, then! Now we are ready for the big scene. Patsy goes in and starts shooting people, the police response teams are delayed just long enough to make sure Patsy can get to Whistleblower and a dozen or so other victims to hide who he was really after.

There is some fallout, of course. The SWAT team is upset about being called off and trying to find out why they were. So fire the team leader to send the others a message. No one is interested in this story of how the murderer was allowed an extra half hour of killing except for some British rag and a few tea-bagger bloggers. The mainstream media is too busy looking for an anti-gun political angle and anyway is so used to being stonewalled on important investigations by the most transparent administration in history that this little thing hardly arises to the level of notice.

Whistleblower will have a nice military funeral, but it's just one of a dozen so it doesn't merit much notice. Within a few weeks everyone will move on except for a few straggling commentators who bring it up over the next year or two as an example of how we need to make involuntary mental treatment easier or how we need to keep guns in the hands of only the military, the police, and the bodyguards of Important People. This later group will never note the irony of using a gun rampage by a former military person as an argument for how we can only trust military people with guns.

So I'm just wondering. Is anybody looking into the victims to see if there might have been a particular motive for killing a particular person?

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