Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former sailor with a
prior record of firearms complaints, had reported hearing voices and
suffering from insomnia in the weeks leading up to September 16,
when he entered the Washington base and opened fire with a sawed-off
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus released
the results of three reviews of the shooting incident on Tuesday,
including one that said the tragedy might have been averted had
authorities not "missed opportunities for intervention."
"The reviews identified troubling gaps in DoD's (Defense
Department's) ability to detect, prevent and respond to instances
where someone working for us, a government employee, member of our
military, or a contractor, decides to inflict harm on this
institution and its people," Hagel told reporters.
Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives welcomed the
findings of the three reviews — one Pentagon, one Navy and one
independent — and pressed the Defense Department to move forward
with steps to improve the issuance and regular review of security
"There is a gaping hole in the current security clearance process
that has enabled people who exhibit obvious signs of high-risk
behavior to remain undetected," said Senator Susan Collins.
The Navy review found that Alexis' employer, an information
technology company called The Experts that worked on defense
contracts, had concerns about his mental state but did not report
them. It said the Navy itself had earlier failed to properly
evaluate and report his behavior while he was a sailor.
"The company leadership decided not to inform the government of
adverse information concerning Alexis' emotional, mental, or
personality condition, even when they had concerns that Alexis may
cause harm to others," the Navy report said.
"This information was not reported to the government as required,"
it said. "Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated
and acted upon, Alexis' authorization to access secure facilities
and information would have been revoked."
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The independent review ordered by Hagel concluded the Pentagon
grants far too many people secret security clearances, as it did to
Alexis, even though he never needed it to perform his Navy job.
The clearance in turn helped him obtain employment after leaving the
Navy, with a defense subcontractor working on secret-level
information systems at the Washington Navy Yard and other
Alexis entered the Navy Yard the morning of September 16 using his
Defense Department access card and carrying a concealed sawed-off
shotgun, the Navy report found. He killed 12 people and wounded four
before being slain by police an hour and 10 minutes after first
Hagel said he had accepted four key recommendations aimed at
improving security, including moving to a system of continuous
evaluation of people who have secret security clearances, rather
than the current practice of not re-examining them for a decade
unless derogatory information is presented to authorities.
He also agreed to the establishment of an insider threat management
and analysis center within the Pentagon to take responsibility for
the process under a top official, and to create an identity
management software system that allows different services to share
Hagel said three other proposals were being considered: reducing the
number of people holding classified security clearances by 10
percent, conducting background checks in the Pentagon rather than
externally, and working to improve mental health care in the
(Editing by Bill Trott and Richard Chang)
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