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Navy plans security changes in wake of Navy Yard rampage
Question of the Day
The Navy is recommending that all available police documents be included in reports used for determining eligibility for security clearances after the shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard last week.
The gunman — former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis — had a secret clearance that gave him access to the Navy Yard, despite having been arrested several times in the past decade.
A review of Alexis' background ordered by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus found that Alexis lied on his enlistment form in 2007, saying he had not been "arrested for, charged with or convicted of any offenses" in the previous seven years. He actually had been arrested in 2004 after shooting out the tires of a construction worker's truck.
The Office of Personnel Management, which was tasked with conducting a background check for Alexis' security clearance, interviewed him after uncovering the arrest.
But its summary of the interview, which was forwarded to a Navy office for review, did not mention firearms or gunshots; it did note Alexis' "deflating" the construction worker's tires. It said Alexis did not mention the incident on his enlistment form because his lawyer had told him the charge would be expunged from his record.
The Navy office "determined Alexis was eligible for a secret level security clearance, with a single caution to the squadron concerning his negative credit history." Alexis' squadron commander approved the issuance of the secret clearance in early 2008.
In September 2008, Alexis was punished by his commander for an unauthorized absence after he had been jailed for disorderly conduct outside a nightclub. He received forfeiture of half of his pay for two months and was reduced one pay grade.
However, the punishment was suspended, as is common for first offenders, a senior Navy official told reporters on background.
In July 2009, Alexis again was punished for being drunk and disorderly, but he won an appeal of the case due to insufficient evidence to prove he had been drunk.
When Alexis was arrested in September 2010 for discharging a firearm in his residence, his commander began the process to separate him from the Navy. But the charges in that incident were dropped, and the commander did not sign, date and forward Alexis' separation paperwork, the Navy official said.
Three months later, Alexis was approved for early separation as part of the Navy's program to reduce troop numbers. He was given an honorable discharge because he had appealed to his commanding officer. He said he wanted to use the GI Bill to attend college, and he would have been unable to with a less-than-honorable discharge.
Alexis left the Navy in 2011, and kept his secret security clearance when he was hired as a defense contractor in 2012.
The Navy is recommending that senior commanders assume responsibilities for security management instead of delegating them to junior officers. It also recommends senior-level accountability for all reports when an individual detaches from the military.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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