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US Concludes Mass Naval Office Killing Was Preventable

  • VOA News

FILE - Aaron Alexis moves through the hallways of Building #197 at the Washington Navy Yard, Sept. 16, 2013.
The U.S. military has concluded that a contractor's deadly attack inside a naval office building in Washington last year would have been prevented if the government had taken a closer look at his background before handing him a security clearance.

The contract worker gunned down 12 people before being fatally shot by police last September at the Navy Yard, several blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that two reviews of the incident showed "troubling gaps" in security at military installations and the background checks the government makes on the workers it hires.

"The reviews identified troubling gaps in [the Defense Department's] ability to detect, prevent and respond to incidents where someone working for us, a government employee, member of our military or contractor decides to inflict harm on this institution and its people," said Hagel.

One of the reports concluded that the contractor, ,he Experts) that hired the killer, Aaron Alexis, "decided not to inform the government of adverse information" it had gathered about him and that it had concerns that he might hurt others.

The defense chief said the government would initiate new reviews of both military and civilian personnel with security clearances and create an office to review any information that might be gathered, such as whether someone with a security clearance had been arrested.

Hagel said the Pentagon also will consider cutting the number of defense personnel who have secret security clearances by at least 10 percent and whether the Defense Department ought to conduct its own security reviews rather than relying on another agency.