Year-long audit of U.S. Navy security showed flaws: congressman

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:43pm EDT

Locked gates secure a pedestrian walkway along the Anacostia River at the Navy Yard installation the day after a shooting rampage, in Washington, September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Locked gates secure a pedestrian walkway along the Anacostia River at the Navy Yard installation the day after a shooting rampage, in Washington, September 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman, speaking after a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, said he understood a year-long investigation of security at the country's Navy installations had shown serious flaws partly driven by cost-cutting.

Representative Mike Turner, the chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee, asked the Defense Department's inspector general's office to provide information about the audit of Naval security, which has yet to be published.

"Given the disturbing events (on Monday), I am highly concerned that the access control systems at our nation's military installations have serious security flaws," Turner wrote in a letter to Acting Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks.

"It is my understanding the IG report indicates the Navy may have implemented an unproven system in order to cut costs," the Ohio Republican said.

He said he had learned that "potentially numerous felons may have been able to gain unrestricted access to several military installations across the country due to the insufficient background checks, increasing the risk to our military personnel and civilian employees."

TIME magazine, which said on Tuesday that it had received information about the audit from a federal official, said it showed that 52 "convicted felons" received routine access to installations and that the Navy "did not effectively mitigate access-control risks associated with contractor installation access."

The suspect in Monday's shooting, Aaron Alexis, 34, was a Navy contractor from Fort Worth, Texas, who had clearance to enter the closely guarded Washington Navy Yard. He is accused of killing 12 people before being shot dead by police.

He had been given clearance despite two gun-related brushes with the law and a discharge from the Navy Reserve in 2011 after a series of misconduct issues.

Alexis was recently hired as a civilian information technology contractor to work on the Navy and Marine Corps intranet and was given a security clearance classified as "secret," his company's chief executive told Reuters.

The Department of Defense Inspector General began its audit in September 2012. A Navy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was not clear how applicable the audit is to the shooting at the Navy Yard on Monday.

"The Navy is reviewing the findings of the DoD inspector general report now," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is unclear at this time the degree to which the findings apply to the shooting at the Navy Yard yesterday."

(This version of the story corrects the spelling of Halbrooks' name to Lynne from Lynn.)

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Alina Selyukh and David Alexander; Writing by Deborah Charles; Editing by Karey Van Hall, David Storey and Jim Loney)

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Comments (6)
chuck2 wrote:
Wonder how many of the “Felons” were able to buy a gun with no questions or background check?

Sep 17, 2013 12:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bill_f wrote:
@chuck2: He passed military security clearance checks, and managed to get weapons into a guarded facility, but you’re wondering if run of the mill background check would have made a difference?

The answer always seems to be more regulation of weapons.

Sep 17, 2013 1:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SoutherRican wrote:
Prior to 9/11 the only clearance one need to entry our local Naval Air Station was a Pizza delivery vehicle, hope they fixed that. Now the Navy will look to place blame on and point the finger on the contractor. Lets not forget on can designate authority not responsibility. My ax to grind with the Navy was that it promoted civilians that were former members of it own service, most civilians employees of other services where just tokens.

Sep 17, 2013 1:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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