Navy Yard shooting: Pentagon to order review of security clearances

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to order a review of security procedures at all Defense Department installations in the U.S. and overseas in the wake of the killing of 12 civilians at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday.

The inquiry, disclosed by a senior Pentagon official, comes amid questions about how the gunman, Aaron Alexis, was able to obtain and keep a security clearance despite a record that included numerous disciplinary infractions while in the Navy; three arrests over the last decade, two of which involved guns; and mental health problems for which he sought treatment at a veterans healthcare facility, according to law enforcement officials.

Hagel’s review will examine access given to contractors and other non-military personnel, among other issues, the Pentagon official said. The review is expected to be announced officially Wednesday.


The firm for which Alexis worked, The Experts, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said in a statement Tuesday that he had been employed by the company for approximately six months over the last year.

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The firm hired another company to do two background checks on him, “and we confirmed twice” with the Defense Department that he held a security clearance at the secret level, the statement said.

“The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation,” the statement said.

“To my knowledge we were never made aware of any criminal or health issues,” said Thomas E. Hoshko, chief executive of The Experts. “I have more questions than you, and I am working to find out what can be done to improve security on bases, as well as the security process.”

A secret level clearance is relatively low-level, below top secret level and even higher clearances. But it is sufficient to gain unescorted access to most military facilities.

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