Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ordered three service-wide reviews of the security clearance process in response to Monday's shooting rampage at the Navy Yard, which was committed by a former Navy reservist who had a record of ‘drunkenness' and insubordination during his time in service.
"I want a complete and comprehensive look at how we grant security clearances, as well as how we decide to renew them," said Mabus in a written statement from the Navy. "We entrust our people with our nation's secrets and with access to our facilities. We owe them and their families nothing less than the assurance that everyone else who enjoys such a clearance deserves it."
Many have raised questions about the clearance process and the ongoing reviews one goes through to maintain a clearance upon learning that alleged Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist and recent contractor supporting the Navy, possessed a valid "secret" level clearance.
Alexis worked at the Navy Yard as a contractor and maintained his clearance, despite a history of arrests. He was employed by a company called The Experts, a subcontractor on a Hewlett-Packard contract.
In 2008, Alexis was granted a secret-level security clearance by the Navy while working full-time as a Navy reservist. He was honorably discharged from the service in 2011, but maintained his security clearance, which is valid for 10 years.
"There is not anything on his record that sticks out as red flag," said a source familiar with the investigation.
Sources familiar with the investigation have told Military.com that Alexis' Navy record includes disorderly conduct for "drunkenness," insubordination and instances of being late to work. He was written up for disorderly conduct for an off duty incident in which he which he fell and hurt himself while being intoxicated.
"The level of misconduct that we have seen in his background did not rise to the level of prompting a security clearance review. However, this is what these reviews are looking at – to ensure we did not miss anything. If we find we did miss something, we will make sure we put the right procedures in place," a Navy official told Military.com.
Alexis was arrested in 2004 in Seattle for shooting out the tires of a construction worker's car. He was also arrested in 2008 in DeKalb County, Ga., for disorderly conduct and again in 2010 after he fired a bullet into the apartment of his ceiling, according to law enforcement officials.
Officials close to the investigation said Alexis was not granted a "waiver" prior to joining the Navy, a measure put in place to give military applicants with a criminal record a chance to be considered. This is the case because neither of these aforementioned arrests resulted in a conviction, the source indicated.
Mabus tasked Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan Garcia and Navy General Counsel Paul Oostburg Sanz to conduct three specific reviews.
One of the requested reviews is of the "service record" and performance of Alexis.
"This review is designed to determine the degree to which his conduct on and off duty in the Navy did or did not meet the threshold for the sustainment of his security clearance and fitness for duty," a written statement from the Navy said.
The second review will be of the requirements and processes in place that do or do not require contracting companies to inform the Navy in the event those companies choose to review an employee's security clearance, the statement said.
The third review implements guidance mentioned yesterday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wherein he called for an examination of the entire process and procedures under which security clearances are granted and reviewed.
"Mabus wants particular attention paid to the threshold at which conduct issues demand a review of one's clearance privileges," a Navy statement said.
The rapid reviews are due to Mabus Oct. 1, and these three rapid reviews will be supplemented by a broader, in-depth investigation, service officials said.
Meanwhile, Navy officials say things are "heading back to normalcy" at the Navy Yard, which is now re-opened. Building 197, where the shooting took place, is closed and the gym is closed, Navy officials said.