March 18, 2014, 11:37 am
Report finds Navy Yard mass shooting could have been prevented
By Jeremy Herb
A 2013 shooting that left 12 people dead at Washington’s Navy Yard could have been prevented if supervisors of gunman Aaron Alexis had reported his erratic behavior in the months leading up to the attack, a Pentagon report released Tuesday concluded.
Separately, an inter-agency probe led by the White House’s budget office on the shooting concluded the federal government should cut the number of employees and contractors with access to top-secret and sensitive information.
Alexis had a security clearance that allowed him access to the Navy Yard and Building 197, where the shooting occurred.
The White House probe found that some 5.1 million federal workers and contractors were eligible for security clearances, giving them access to an array of sensitive locations and information, as of October 2013. It called for new regulations “to refine the designation of national security positions and more accurately align investigations with risks,” according to the report.
The Pentagon study determined there were “missed opportunities for intervention” that if pursued might have prevented the killings.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday unveiled the results and recommendations from an internal Defense Department-wide study and an independent review into the events surrounding the shooting. The Navy also conducted its own investigation.
The Navy’s report found that Alexis’s supervisors at a government contractor had noticed Alexis behaving in a way that raised concerns about his mental stability.
“This information was not reported to the government as required,” the report said. “Had this information been reported, properly adjudicated, and acted upon, Alexis’ authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked.”
Hagel said that reviews conducted after the shooting found “troubling gaps” in the Pentagon’s ability to detect and prevent what are known as insider attacks.
Hagel announced a series of recommendations as the reports were released on Tuesday, including a new system to continuously evaluate personnel with access to Defense Department facilities and classified information, a reduction in the number of security clearances issued and reducing the Pentagon’s reliance on the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) for background checks.
Hagel also called for a new insider threat management and analysis center that would help analyze the new automated background checks and try to “connect the dots” for potential threats.
Paul Stockton, a former assistant Defense secretary who was an author of the independent review, said that the Pentagon had to focus more on “insider threats” to try to prevent future attacks.
“For decades, the department has approached security from a perimeter perspective,” Stockton said. “If we strengthen the perimeter, build our fences, if you will, against threats on the other side, we'll be secure. That approach is outmoded, it's broken, and the department needs to replace it.”
Alexis joined the Navy in 2007, and was subsequently hired by a government contractor, The Experts, which had access to the Navy Yard facilities. He brought a shotgun to work on Sept. 16 and shot and killed 12 people. He was also killed in the incident.
The Pentagon’s review found that the OPM background check of Alexis was missing critical information, and Alexis’s Navy command did not report several incidents that occurred during his active-duty service.
As a result, The Experts, a subcontractor of HP Enterprise Services, had “no insight into Alexis’s chronic personal conduct issues during his Navy service when they hired him and placed him in a position that required access to classified information.”
The Navy review led by Adm. John Richardson faulted Alexis’s supervisors at The Experts for not properly reporting troubling incidents.
When Alexis was staying at a hotel on Naval Station Newport in August 2013, police were called in and found that Alexis had taken apart his bed, thinking someone was hiding under it. Alexis had also taped a microphone to the ceiling of his room to record the voices of the people following him.
The Experts launched an investigation into Alexis’s behavior, requesting police reports and contacting his mother, but the contractor ultimately concluded that they did not need to send the police reports to the government.
The management team “concluded that the information collected about Alexis was based on rumor and innuendo, and therefore a report to the government should not be made, since doing so may infringe on Alexis’ privacy rights,” the Navy report said.
This story was updated at 6:57 p.m.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/navy/201056-navy-yard-shooting-could-have-been-prevented-report-finds#ixzz2wPGxsIlx
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