Navy Yard Shooting: DoD Missed Warning Signs, Report Says

Navy personnel and a government contractor missed key warning signs that might have prevented Aaron Alexis from killing 12 people in mass shooting at Washington Navy Yard last September, a report released Tuesday said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised reforms.

The reviews identified troubling gaps in DOD’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to instances where someone working for us -– a government employee, a member of our military or a contractor –- decides to inflict harm on this institution and its people,” Hagel said in a statement.

USA Today reports:

If the contractor for whom Alexis worked had told the government about his troubles, the report said, “Alexis’ authorization to access secure facilities and information would have been revoked.”

But Alexis’ clearance was not revoked, and on Sept. 16, 2013, he entered Building 197 at the Navy Yard with a shotgun and killed 12 people before police shot and killed him. The report also found that security procedures were insufficient at the naval facility near downtown Washington.

A key finding of the report: Leaders of his employer, technology subcontractor The Experts, “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 full list of reforms is below:

  • DOD will implement a continuous evaluation program of personnel with access to DOD facilities or classified information, including DOD contractors and military and civilian personnel. “While individuals with security clearances undergo periodic reinvestigations,” the secretary said, “I am directing the department to establish automated reviews of cleared personnel that will continuously pull information from law enforcement and other relevant databases.” Hagel said this will help trigger an alert if derogatory information such as an arrest becomes available for someone holding a security clearance.
  • DOD will establish an Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center that quickly analyzes the results of the automated record checks, helps connect the dots, and determines whether follow-up action is needed. The center also will advise and support Department of Defense components to ensure appropriate action is taken on each case, Hagel noted.
  • DOD will centralize authority and accountability for physical and personal security under a single staff assistant located in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. Today, the secretary said, these responsibilities are fractured among multiple DOD components. “This action will identify one person within DOD who is responsible for leading efforts to counter insider threats,” he said.

DOD will accelerate development of the Defense Manpower Data Center’s Identity Management Enterprise Services Architecture, called IMESA, allowing DOD security officers to share access control information and continuously vet individuals against U.S. government databases.

  • Along with these actions, Hagel said, the department will review how best to move forward on three more recommendations made by the Independent Review Panel:
  • Consider reducing the number of personnel holding Secret security clearances by at least 10 percent, a recommendation in line with October 2013 guidance from the director of national intelligence.
  • Consider reducing DOD’s reliance on background investigations conducted by the Office of Personnel Management and analyze the cost, efficiency and effectiveness of returning the clearance review process to DOD.
  • Consider developing more effective ways to screen recruits, further destigmatize treatment and ensure the quality of mental health care within DOD.

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