The August Provost murder

THE AUGUST PROVOST MURDER…. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week on the suspected murder of Navy Seaman August Provost, who was found dead in a Camp Pendleton guard shack on Wednesday. Initial reports indicated that Provost had complained to his family about someone “harassing and bothering” him, but the 29-year-old sailor was reportedly reluctant to talk to his superiors about this because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In addition to being an awful personal tragedy for a young man and his family, it’s the kind of story that has a potential to influence the larger debate over the long overdue repeal of DADT.

I saw a report yesterday, quoting the victim’s aunt, arguing that Provost was “gagged, bound by the hands and feet, shot in the head three times, and then his body burned.” The same report said the Obama administration has done “nothing” and is apparently “blowing off the concerns of the dead US military member’s family.”

Fortunately, there’s been some additional reporting that suggests officials — inside the Obama administration and out — are taking the matter seriously.

Here’s what we know as of now.

First, Navy officials reported that Provost was discovered dead, shot while standing sentry at his post Tuesday night. He had not, however, been bound or gagged. Someone tried to light a fire at the guard shack, and investigators believe it was an attempt to “destroy evidence” of the shooting.

Second, investigators are still looking for evidence about Provost’s suspected murder being a hate crime, and have taken at least one “person of interest” into custody. The victim’s aunt believes the shooting may have been related to Provost’s sexual orientation, race, or both.

Provost’s aunt, Rose Roy, of Beaumont, Texas, said by telephone on Friday that her nephew had told her he was being harassed because of his sexual orientation and because he was African-American. She described him as bisexual. […]

Asked whether she believed her nephew was killed because of race and sexual orientation, she said, “In my heart, I do.”

Third, Navy Capt. Matt Brown, a career Navy officer (not a political appointee), spoke to reporters about the crime the other day. Though he wouldn’t go into too much detail, Brown suggested Provost’s killing may have been more a matter of his location and timing, not his race and sexual orientation. “What I can tell you, unequivocally at this point, based on the preliminary information that we have, is that regardless of the person standing watch in that sentry station, this crime would have most likely been carried out in the same way,” Brown said. “In other words, another sailor could have been on that post and would have been the victim of this crime.”

And finally, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) has called for a full and transparent investigation, and one appears to be underway.

Obviously, the facts about the apparent murder are still coming together, and we don’t yet know who killed August Provost or why. But it seems the Defense Department is doing exactly what it should be doing, and hopefully we’ll know more about what transpired soon.

I can appreciate concerns that the Obama administration has disappointed many who’d hoped for more and quicker progress on gay rights and the concerns of the LGBT community, but in the Provost tragedy, there’s no reason to think the administration is letting anyone down.