The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has begun to look into Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and on Wednesday asked the Obama administration to turn over the unredacted 2007 background investigation report that approved his secret security clearance.
Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Blake Farenthold, Texas Republican and chairman of the federal workforce subcommittee, sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management saying they want to get to the bottom of the "unacceptable breach of security" that allowed Alexis to gain access to the Navy Yard last week.
"Typically, these failures result from a combination of human error, bad processes and rules, and lack of oversight of employees and contractors," Mr. Farenthold said in a statement to The Washington Times. "I am also concerned with inadequate use of modern technology in the screening process. The committee intends to thoroughly investigate the system and find solutions to keep people safe."
The records were requested as the FBI released more information about the attack, including that Alexis thought he was being controlled by low-frequency radio waves and expected to die in the attack. Alexis also etched bizarre messages into the shotgun he toted into the Navy Yard.
The FBI also released video of Alexis entering Building 197 and later stalking the hallways with the shotgun as office workers go about their business far down the corridors.
Alexis enlisted in the Navy in 2007, which was when he underwent his initial background check. After he left the service, he became a contractor with secret clearance. That allowed him access to the Navy Yard, where he went on the shooting rampage that killed 12 people and wounded eight before he was fatally shot by police.
News reports say federal authorities "whitewashed" Alexis' background check, discounting information about a previous arrest and failing to uncover accusations that he used a gun to shoot out some automobile tires.
Some critics also have focused on the use of contractors to help with the background check, which involved an interview with Alexis but nobody else.
News outlets have reported that the same contractor aided in the background investigations for Alexis and for Edward Snowden, a former intelligence community contractor who absconded from the country with a cache of secret documents that he has been slowly leaking, exposing some of the government's most secret and controversial snooping programs.
Several congressional committees have signaled an interest in looking at security clearances and why Alexis was able to gain access to a secure Navy facility.
In the wake of the shooting, President Obama called for stiffer gun controls, but the focus on Capitol Hill has been on Alexis' state of mind and on how he was allowed to be on the base in the first place.
OPM declined to comment for the record on the oversight committee's request, but Merton W. Miller, OPM's associate director of investigations, said in a statement last week that his agency acts at the bidding of other agencies — such as the Navy, in the case of Alexis.
"OPM's involvement with matters related to Aaron Alexis' security clearance ended when we submitted the case to the Department of Defense (DoD) for adjudication in December 2007. DoD did not ask OPM for any additional investigative actions after it received the completed background investigation," Mr. Miller said.
The Navy this week released documents showing investigators were aware of one arrest and knew Alexis failed to disclose it on his security clearance application.
Mr. Farenthold said the public has seen "selective leaks and partial disclosures" of information about what was or wasn't covered by the OPM background investigation into Alexis.
"The committee is seeking an unredacted copy of his background investigation file to put an end to the ambiguity," he said.
The oversight committee held a hearing this year that looked at waste within OPM, and where the agency's inspector general testified that it regularly looks into reports that the Federal Investigative Service background investigations have been faked.
Sometimes the investigators claim to have conducted interviews that never happened, while other times they claimed to have checked records they never looked at, Inspector General Patrick E. McFarland testified to Mr. Farenthold's subcommittee.
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