Why Did FBI Release Chilling Navy Yard Tape?

On Wednesday, the FBI updated the public with what the agency had discovered about Aaron Alexis, the contractor who killed 12 people and injured three more at Washington's Navy Yard headquarters on Sept. 16. It had already been established that Alexis was likely suffering from psychosis, having told police that he'd been harassed via microwave and had heard voices through walls and ceilings. He'd also visited two VA emergency rooms to seek treatment for insomnia.

The FBI said that there was evidence Alexis believed that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves. He'd etched "My ELF weapon!" on one of the guns, and the agency found a document he appeared to have written: "Ultra low frequency attack is what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this.”

The released tape doesn't show Alexis firing any shots. The 31-second clip sees him entering the Navy Yard building on the morning of the shooting, pulling out a gun, and roaming the halls. It's a chilling watch:

Which begs the question: why release it? There's precedent for the FBI to release information relating to a case that won't go to trial. Because Aaron Alexis died later that morning during a shoot-out with police, the FBI is likely trying to make information transparent. The agency went beyond candor on Wednesday morning, releasing a "gallery" of 16 images of Alexis and his weapons, not to mention surveillance footage of the incident.

It might be that the agency wanted to be clear about the transparency of its investigation. It could also be that because they're not linking anyone else to the shooting, hence eliminating the need for trial, they don't feel the need to hold back any evidence. Certainly, they've held back surveillance footage of the actual shooting, meaning the FBI deliberately chose that section of the surveillance footage to make public. It could be argued that doing so might be insensitive to the victims' families, and all those that were shattered by last week's shooting — which was, let's remember, is still a very recent event.

Images: FBI