Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Intelligence expert: No way to eliminate crime at military bases

In the wake of the fatal shooting of Vietnam veteran Ronald Bullock last Wednesday by an off-duty FBI agent at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Tampa Bay Online ran an interesting story about military base security that resonates with NOPE's concerns about unimpeded civilian access and housing at NWS Earle.

From the start, NOPE cautioned that the Department of Navy's ill-fated intentions to open 300 unused "Laurelwood" homes to civilians, whether run-of-the-mill civilians or esteemed military veterans with military IDs (as one local advocacy continues to push), was an extremely flawed and dangerious idea for a number of reasons; namely, the distraction to Earle's core mission to provide ammunition to the U.S. fleet, and the obvious overhanging security threat of allowing anyone inside a military base property line without background checks or passing through the main security gate.

The most telling observation about the Bullock tragedy comes from intelligence expert Fred Burton of Stratfor, whose commentary to Tampa Bay Online underscores NOPE's core concern that operating a 300-unit civilian Laurelwood would have been the equivalent of Earle running a small city, and that, as Mr. Burton observed, "there is no way to eliminate crime at military bases any more than you can in a small city."

In short, the Bullock tragedy highlights precisely why even veterans with military IDs (a component of the mysterious "Acccettola Plan" referenced in a recent Asbury Park Press letter to the editor) are not suited to live on an active military ordnance depot such as NWS Earle. There are clearly better venues for housing civilians, veterans or whomever than a place where explosives are handled 24/7.

Most citizens and elected officials (and, implicitly, the Department of Navy itself, in withdrawing the civilian housing plan and agreeing to a Laurelwood buyout) recognize this, but in light of recent off-kilter commentary from veterans housing advocates, we reiterate our view that the NJ legislature needs to pass S762-A2014 for the protection of our State's interested, and the Department of Navy needs to move forward on an expeditious buyout and demolition of the Laurelwood EVERYONE's benefit, namely its own.

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