Pentagon: Navy Yard killings should have been prevented

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 18, 2014 

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sit with friends and relatives of Washington Navy Yard shooting victims at a Sept. 22, 2013, memorial service at the Marine Barracks in Washington.



Multiple security and oversight failures by the military, civilian government agencies and outside contractors contributed to last September's shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, three reports released Tuesday found.

After entering the Navy Yard and then gaining access to a classified section, Aaron Alexis killed 12 people Sept. 16, 2013, in a 23-minute shooting spree before he was slain.

Alexis, a former sailor working as a computer expert at the Navy Yard, had a pattern of misconduct during his military service and increasingly bizarre behavior afterward that should have prevented his access to the military base, the Navy concluded.

Alexis' supervisors at Hewlett Packard, the facility's main information-technology contractor, and The Experts, the HP subcontractor that directly employed him, observed unstable behavior suggested he might harm others, the Navy report said.

"This information was not reported to the government as required," the Navy found. "Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated and acted upon, Alexis' authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked." 

Several Navy agencies failed to exercise adequate oversight Alexis' employers, the Navy said.

An independent review of the deadly assault, in which 12 people and shooter Aaron Alexis died, criticized the escalating number of security clearances, saying they've tripled since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The outsider reviewers recommended that the number of military and civilian employees with such clearances -- 2.5 million within the Pentagon alone -- be reduced, with tighter controls and more frequent updates after they're granted.

Military commanders should also take steps to de-stigmatize mental-health problems and assure their troops that they won't be punished for seeking help, the outside review found.

A separate internal Defense Department report to Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel found other problems:

-- The civilian Office of Personnel Management, which oversees security checks for all federal employees seeking clearances, was missing "critical information" in its background probe of Alexis.

-- The Navy granted Alexis a security clearance with set conditions, but it didn't put in place oversight steps to ensure compliance.

-- Alexis' commanders failed to report "behaviors indicating psychological instability" or seek mental health support during his Navy service from May 8, 2007, to Jan. 31, 2011.






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