After Pentagon security reviews concluded that the 2013 Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D. C., should have been averted with better internal procedures, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered steps to improve Pentagon security.
There were three different reviews released by Hagel and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus about the September shooting incident where 12 people were killed. The reviews concluded that threats to Defense Department personnel and facilities are increasingly coming from trusted insiders. In response, the Pentagon must beef up security from within.
Had the private contractor that employed 34-year-old former sailor Aaron Alexis — the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, The Experts — told the Navy about his mental health problems, the shooting could have been prevented. As The Associated Press reported last year, the company pulled Alexis’ access to classified material after a series of bizarre complaints and police incidents last August during a business trip to Newport, R.I., when he complained that people were following him, making noises and using a microwave machine to “send vibrations through the ceiling” in his hotel room.
According to the report, The Experts’ human resources manager called Alexis’ mother, who said her son “has been paranoid and this was not the first episode he had experienced.”
But after Alexis was called back to Washington, The Experts concluded the information on Alexis was based on rumor and innuendo and thus restored his access.
“For decades, the department has approached security from a perimeter perspective,” said Paul Stockton, former Pentagon assistant secretary for homeland defense and one of the authors of the independent review. “That approach is outmoded, it’s broken, and the department needs to replace it.”
“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.
“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 Sen. Susan Collins.
The broader reviews of the Defense Department said it should cut the number of workers who hold security clearances, conduct better and routinely updated background checks, and establish a system to evaluate and handle employees who are potential threats.
Preventing violence in the workplace must start “long before someone enters an installation with a weapon,” the internal review said.
According to Hagel, an inside threat management center will analyze the automatic record checks and “help connect the dots.” In addition, he said he will consider cutting the number of workers with clearances — currently about 2.5 million — by at least 10 percent.
Security clearances are currently reviewed every five or 10 years, depending on the clearance level.
A recent pilot program looked at nearly 3,400 Army service members, civilian workers and contractors and concluded the checks should be done more frequently after the program identified 731 people, nearly 22 percent, with previously unreported “derogatory” information—such as financial issues, domestic abuse, drug abuse or prostitution. The Army revoked the clearances of 55 people and suspended the access of 44 others.