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Blunt Decries Violence, Praises Dual Probes Into Ferguson Shooting

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Gage Skidmore | Flickr
Mo. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is recovering after doctors at George Washington University successfully implanted a coronary stent on Thursday.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says he supports the plan for dual local-federal investigations into the circumstances of Saturday’s police shooting in Ferguson of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death has ignited violence.

“This is a case where redundancy is a good thing,’’ said Blunt, R-Mo., as he talked to reporters Tuesday morning while visiting with businesses along the St. Louis riverfront.

“The more people looking at this, the better.”

Blunt said he agreed with the approach of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and county Police Chief Jon Belmar. They are cooperating with federal authorities but also are planning to conduct a local probe as well. County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch also is investigating the incident.

“Parallel investigations of what happened will be one of the things that leads to some sort of closure,’’ Blunt said.

The senator emphasized that, as a parent, he understood the devastation felt by Brown’s family in the wake of his death. But he also decried the violence, calling it “a tragic reaction to the loss of a young life…that makes it harder to move forward.”

Blunt’s comments come the day after U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, joined several members of Congress in calling for the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department to consider “expanding the scope of federal involvement…to investigate the legal and civil rights ramifications of the shooting and surrounding circumstances.”

In the joint letter, Clay and his allies said that the St. Louis County Police Department “may not be the most objective or credible body’’ because of previous controversies involving racial profiling.

Blunt said that he didn’t want to jump to any conclusions about what the local or federal probes may conclude.  First, he said, “let’s get in and find out what there is to know.”

Blames Obama administration for upheaval in Iraq

Blunt had a harsher assessment of President Barack Obama, reaffirming his longstanding view that his administration deserved much of the blame for the chaos and conflict now consuming much of Iraq.

“I think we made a huge mistake when we didn’t leave a residual force in Iraq,’’ Blunt said, referring to the administration’s withdrawal by 2011 of all American troops.

The president has said the U.S. had little choice because the Iraq government declined to extend an agreement that barred Iraq from arresting U.S. soldiers and putting them in Iraqi prisons.

Bluntreinterated his opinion that the Obama administration has viewed Iraq through the eyes of preventing another Vietnam conflict, when the senator said a better comparison would be Korea – where the United States has had a military force in place for 60 years.

But now, Blunt isn't sure that the United States can correct what he views as its missteps in Iraq. "It’s a disastrous situation,” with the country overrun by terrorists and consumed by religious unrest that he said threatens the stability of the region and the world.

“I don’t think that chaos can be fully managed by a few air strikes here and there,’’ Blunt said, referring to recent action by the U.S. military to halt the advance of militants and to drop supplies to refugees stranded on mountains.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.