Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sandy Hook Is Waiting

Following a reasonable complaint from Republican leaders in the General Assembly that they lack sufficient data to write legislation that will assure people in Connecticut – and most especially the people of Sandy Hook – that massacres of the kind that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School will not be repeated, Governor Dannel Malloy, who does not take kindly to critical objections, responded with a media release.

“Like many others,” Mr. Malloy wrote, “I was disappointed and angered to learn that certain information about the Newtown shooting had been leaked, specifically with concern for the victims' families who may have been hearing this news for the first time.”

Does Mr. Malloy truly think that the leaked information provided in a Daily News report by Mike Lupica will irreparably compromise the criminal investigation under way by the Chief State’s Attorney and other law enforcement officials?

Mr. Malloy does not seem especially anxious to answer to this question. But the question is an important one because, depending on the answer to it, reasonable people, news reporters among them, might be able to determine for themselves whether or not the shroud of secrecy surrounding the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School should be lifted so as to allow legislators to write rational and effective bills.

The Chief State’s Attorney has not indicated as a result of the data he has so far assembled that any prosecutions are pending. Adam Lanza, a quite efficient killer, managed to murder 20 school children, 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School and his own mother. There has been some speculation, so far not supported by hard data, that Mr. Lanza’s mother might have been partly responsible for the mayhem by failing to render inaccessible four of the weapons Mr. Lanza carried with him to the school. Indeed, most of the information people in Connecticut and elsewhere have been regurgitating from media reports remains unverified. A final criminal report, we are told, will be completed sometime in June.

The Chief State’s Attorney likely will not prosecute Adam Lanza, because he is dead. His mother likewise is unavailable for questioning.  Questions cannot be wrested from any of the brave and heroic school personnel who, unarmed, died in heroic attempts to frustrate Mr. Lanza’s murderous assault. Indeed, should some curious news reporter ask Mr. Malloy, a former prosecutor, who the Chief State’s Attorney intends to prosecute for this heinous crime, what names could he mention?

Until the New Orleans leak, the iron curtain of secrecy surrounding the massacre in Sandy Hook was impenetrable, and in the absence of verified information, speculation and rumor have been rampant. However, it may not seem to most reporters that the data tightly under wraps and released by Mr. Lupica would compromise the ongoing investigation by the Chief State’s Attorney and others closely connected with federal personnel, nor has the Chief State’s Attorney suggested as much.

Following criticism from leading data-starved legislators in the General Assembly, Mr. Malloy wrote in his media release:

“Today, my office contacted the Chief State’s Attorney. I requested, and they have agreed, to release additional information relevant to the investigation and to provide a status on where the investigation currently stands. This information will be provided by Friday, March 29.

“As to what information can reasonably be shared at this time – that is a question that must be left to the State’s Attorney and other law enforcement. As a former prosecutor, I’m sensitive to the need for an independent investigation and believe that we must allow their work to continue without any undue interference.

“Having said all that, I will also say that I am bewildered by the demands of Mr. Cafero and others for a special briefing they claim is necessary in order for them to take a firm position on potential legislative responses to this horrific tragedy.

“To Mr. Cafero and those others I must ask: what more could you possibly need to know?

It might be considered unbusiness-like for Mr. Cafero to respond, “We need to know more than Mike Lupica if we are expected to write rational legislation that will, as Mr. Malloy and members of Connecticut’s U.S Congressional delegation have insisted, prevent future Sandy Hook-like school invasions.”  At the very least Mr. Cafero should busy himself making a list of relevant questions the answers to which might aid the General Assembly in writing pertinent legislation.

All available information should be released to legislative bodies considering relevant bills. It borders upon insanity to expect reasonable legislation from legislators not in possession of the data they need to write the legislation. If it is determined that the information – including Hippa information – will compromise the investigation, that data may be received by relevant committees in camera. If current Hippa regulations prevent the sharing of medical data with legislators who need the data to write bills, change the regulations. Legislators – and the governor -- should have been insisting on briefings and updated briefings all along. It is the lack of hard and accurate data that has slowed the legislative process. No more dawdling! The people of Sandy Hook deserve better than this.

By the way, would it not be proper for U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and other Democrats on Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation to direct some of the rhetorical fire aimed at the demonized NRA towards Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Senate leader Harry Reid could not muster enough votes in a body controlled by Democrats to pass an assault rifle ban: Connecticut has one.  This commentator reads media reports sedulously, and he cannot recall any of the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation, all Democrats, being invited to express their dismay concerning the withdrawal of the assault weapons ban bill by Senate leader Harry Reid. These are the very people, Mr. Malloy among them, who stood shoulder to shoulder with groups in Newtown that were demanding an assault weapons ban from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress.

What flower pots are they hiding behind now?
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