Evening Reads Open Thread: Frontline’s view of Adam Lanza


 Good Evening…

Tonight I’ll be watching the Frontline special on PBS. If you go to the FRONTLINE | PBS website it is filled with articles and links and photos of Adam Lanza. Take a look at these:

Slideshow: Adam Lanza’s Path to the Sandy Hook Tragedy | Raising Adam Lanza | FRONTLINE | PBS

I have never seen some of these pictures before…it gives me chills to look into Adam’s eyes.

Before becoming the name behind the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, Adam Lanza was known as a shy boy who was quiet, withdrawn and seemed to recoil from being touched. He played violent video games and went to shooting ranges with his mother, but hardly showed signs of dangerous behavior.

Yet somewhere along the way, Lanza made the fateful decision that ended in the second deadliest school shooting in American history. The following collection of photos traces his path to the mass killings in Newtown, Conn. While his motive remains a mystery, they help explain some of the key forces that shaped his life.

I have always thought the pictures that have been release, especially the one from his Driver’s ID was somehow distorted…his chin and face seemed extraordinarily long….like the picture had been altered when it was enlarged.  But now I see this is not the case.

Slide 12

Following Adam’s sophomore year in high school, Nancy again made the decision to withdraw him. He enrolled at Western Connecticut State University at 16 and performed well, posting a 3.26 grade-point average. Nancy told friends he had embraced a more adult-like environment, but his high school support network was gone. Within a year, Adam left. He then enrolled at Norwalk Community College, but dropped out after the first semester.

Another link from Frontline, a video trailer for tonight’s show: “There Was A Weirdness” About Young Adam Lanza | Raising Adam Lanza | FRONTLINE | PBS

I have already linked to the second part of the Hartford Courant’s investigative article, but here it is again:

A Deeper Divide: The Gun Control Debate After Newtown – Courant.com

Just a few more links on Adam Lanza:

Will You Watch ‘Raising Adam Lanza’ on ‘Frontline’? – NYTimes.com

Police: ‘Mere speculation’ that Adam Lanza was motivated by obsession with other mass killers – U.S. News

This is an open thread, so please feel free to comment about whatever you like…


Long Reads: Adam Lanza…the latest news

Reading in a group is always more fun than reading alone.Good Evening

Tomorrow on PBS, Frontline will air a two-part show about Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza. I have two long reads to share with you that discusses this joint investigation between Frontline and the Hartford Courant.

The Frontline’s two-part documentary Raising Adam Lanza and Newtown Divided premieres Tuesday, Feb, 19, at 10 p.m. on PBS.

Here is the link to the full article from the Hartford Courant, by ALAINE GRIFFIN, agriffin@courant.com, and JOSH KOVNER, jkovner@courant.comRaising Adam Lanza: Who Was Nancy Lanza

Who Was Adam Lanza, And What Was The Nature Of His Relationship With His Mother?
Watch The FRONTLINE Special Tues., Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. (check your local listings)

Adam, 6, then diagnosed with a condition that made it difficult for him to manage and respond to sights, touch and smell, eventually struggled in the first grade at his new school — Sandy Hook Elementary.

His mother would respond, touching off a 10-year educational shuffle with moves in and out of schools and programs that addressed his sensory integration disorder and another diagnosis that would come by middle school: Asperger’s syndrome.

Adam would attend public school, take lessons at home, try private school for a couple of months, return to public school and attend Newtown High School, although he left after his sophomore year. He went to college at 16 and earned A’s and B’s — but it didn’t last. He was out in a year. He then went to a community college, and dropped out in the first semester.

A series of significant life changes followed for Adam as the number of people with whom he had contact began to shrink.

His parents divorced. He abruptly cut off contact with his father, Peter, in 2010, and grew estranged from his older brother. He spent more time alone at home. His mother, who loved to travel, told friends she was grooming him to be independent someday. There were even plans to leave New England — their lifelong home — so Adam could study history and possibly earn a college degree.

But mother and son never left. Adam, now 20, had a plan of his own. He returned to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

We know the outcome of that fatal trip Adam took to his old elementary school…but this long article details interviews with people who knew Adam and Nancy Lanza, and gives us a look at a sick boy who needed help desperately, and a mother who seemed to take two different approaches when dealing with her sons illnesses.

The impression I get from the interviews is that Nancy handled Adam and his multiple mental illnesses differently before her divorce in 2008/2009…According to a longtime friend of Nancy’s, Marvin LaFontaine:

In kindergarten back in Kingston, he had been “coded,” or identified, as needing an “individual education plan” and extra attention, both in the classroom and at home, LaFontaine said.

“There was a shyness and a learning thing and they were trying to unravel it,” he said of Adam, whom Nancy Lanza would bring along to Ryan’s Cub Scout meetings.

“Adam was a quiet kid. He never said a word,” LaFontaine said. “There was a weirdness about him and Nancy warned me once at one of the Scout meetings … ‘Don’t touch Adam.’ She said he just can’t stand that. … He’d become teary-eyed and I think he would run to his mother.”

LaFontaine recalled that at one of the Scout meetings in Kingston, Adam, a slight child with a mop of curly brownish-red hair, became immersed in a crafts assignment but still exhibited the signs that would define his life: He was withdrawn, said next to nothing, was resistant to touch, and tended to exist in his own world.

On that day, LaFontaine watched Nancy Lanza approach Adam. LaFontaine knew virtually no one could touch Adam without the boy recoiling.

His mother leaned down and whispered something in the boy’s ear. Then she kissed him gently on the back of his head. The boy did not say anything, or move or acknowledge the kiss in any way. But he did not draw back.

“He didn’t seem to mind that,” LaFontaine recalled thinking.

There seems to be a history of folks coming in contact with Nancy and/or Adam Lanza, then poof…no further relations are made or kept.

From mothers of Adams classmates, to teachers and high school tech club sponsors, to Nancy’s youngest brother and Adam’s own brother, and father…people come into the Lanza’s lives and then fall out…never to follow-up or have further contact with a mother and son who needed a friend or community support.

Read the article and you will see, a pattern of significant changes and withdraws in Adam’s life that does not mesh with the professional opinions on how to take care of a child with the kind of mental illnesses Adam had.

She seems attentive and welcomed the help and understanding a few teachers, friends and family members that had a part of Adam’s life. Then later, after her divorce and in the time period before Adam killed all those people, Nancy would leave her son alone for days at a time…isolated in the basement. Nancy no longer would speak with her brother, or other close friends…Adam was kept from talking to Nancy’s brother too. There is also some discussion of Adam withdrawing from contact with his father Paul and brother Ryan.

This is a kid who was supposed to suffer from sensory disorders and other mental illnesses, who did not feel pain and had an extra-sensitive reaction to sights, sounds and touch. He would shut down and retreat into a corner, according to the sponsor of the Newtown High School Tech Club, he would sit there not moving or saying anything…like he was in some kind of catatonic state. (Don’t know if that is the technical term, but from the descriptions in the article, Adam would not even acknowledge or look at his tech club teacher when he was in this withdrawn state.)

So this kid who could not take loud noises…his mother would take him shooting. She would leave him alone for long periods of time when it was obvious he needed to have constant supervision. I don’t want to sound like I am faulting Nancy Lanza, but it is very strange when you see how many life changes this kid went through. This is a child who had more changes in his early and secondary education than a “normal” kid would be able to handle. It seems like there were contradictions left and right when it came to Nancy’s treatment and care of Adam.

Anyway, give the article a read, and take a look at the rest of these links below…

Raising Adam Lanza | Raising Adam Lanza | FRONTLINE | PBS

Adam Lanza’s Arsenal and What It Says About the Nation’s Relationship to Freedom and Fear — New York Magazine

Newtown shooter motivated by Norway massacre, sources say – CBS News

‘Raising Adam Lanza’ review: Revealing – SFGate

Detectives investigating Newtown massacre find Adam Lanza’s violent video games, ponder the 20-year-old mimicking a gory game scene – NY Daily News

Adam Lanza update: Thousands of dollars worth of ‘violent’ video games found in Lanza’s home

New Nancy Lanza Profile Is a Letdown

During Transition, Obama “Signaled” Endorsement of Bush Secret Programs

In a 2007 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Obama promised to roll back the secret programs put in place by Bush and restore civil liberties and respect for the Constitution. Here’s an excerpt:

This [Bush] Administration…puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

This [Bush] Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America, and that is why the fifth part of my strategy is doing the hard and patient work to secure a more resilient homeland.

But since Obama took office, his Justice Department has defended every Bush/Cheney policy and refused to hold any Bush administration or CIA officials accountable for torture, rendition, and illegal spying on Americans. Obama has instead gone even further, claiming the right to assassinate American citizens on the sole authority of the President.

The new season of PBS Frontline begins next Tuesday with a bang. The show is part of Frontline’s collaboration with the Washington Post in an investigative project called Top Secret America.

Today Frontline posted some teasers for the show, one of which I found unsurprising but still very important.

FRONTLINE has learned from a former high-ranking CIA official that even before he took office, Obama’s team “signaled” they had no intention of rolling back secret programs begun under the Bush administration. In his first televised interview, for next Tuesday’s Top Secret America John Rizzo, a 34-year agency veteran described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history,” tells FRONTLINE:

I was part of the transition briefings of the incoming Obama team, and they signaled fairly early on that the incoming president believed in a vigorous, aggressive, continuing counterterrorism effort. Although they never said it exactly, it was clear that the interrogation program was going away. We all knew that.

But his people were signaling to us, I think partly to try to assure us that they weren’t going to come in and dismantle the place, that they were going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the Bush people….

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

You can watch part of the interview at the Frontline link.