Government Background Check System Gave Navy Yard Gunman Security Clearance despite Arrest History

The U.S. government’s background check system gave Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis, a military contractor and former Navy reservist, an all-access secret-level clearance pass to a several military installations despite a history of arrests and disorderly conduct, according to a report from The Washington Post. Officials say Alexis used his security clearance pass to enter the Washington Navy Yard and shoot 12 people to death before being killed by police. The complete Washington Post report is available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/contractor-would-not-have-hired-aaron-alexis-if-past-brushes-with-law-had-been-known/2013/09/17/e5bc83da-1faa-11e3-8459-657e0c72fec8_story.html.

The Post reports that the gunman’s ability to pass the government background check system despite past arrests in Washington state in 2004, Georgia in 2008, and Texas in 2010 has prompted President Barack Obama to direct his budget office “to conduct a government-wide review of security standards for contractors and employees.” Alexis was granted secret-level security clearance, which requires far less investigation than a top-secret clearance, in March 2008 while working as a full-time Navy reservist before receiving an honorable discharge in January 2011 despite several run-ins with military superiors and police that included disorderly conduct and shooting episodes, according to the Post report. A Defense Department official told The Post that “lower-level clearances such as the one granted to Alexis are typically good for 10 years.”

As reported earlier on the ESR News blog, the government background check system was already under close scrutiny after a federal review of the most recent background check conducted on fugitive National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden – who later leaked classified government documents about secret surveillance programs – found that the security clearance investigation was “inadequate.” The review of the background check that was presented in a letter to the Inspector general for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found “several areas of incomplete coverage” of Snowden’s record and personal history. The blog originally posted on August 28, 2013 is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2013/08/28/background-check-of-national-security-agency-leaker-found-to-be-inadequate/.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/contractor-would-not-have-hired-aaron-alexis-if-past-brushes-with-law-had-been-known/2013/09/17/e5bc83da-1faa-11e3-8459-657e0c72fec8_story.html

http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2013/08/28/background-check-of-national-security-agency-leaker-found-to-be-inadequate/

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