Mabus Wants Changes to Clearances After Shooting


Navy Secretary Ray Mabus issued recommendations Monday to bolster security clearance investigations following the first of three special reports regarding the Sept. 16 shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard.

Mabus has recommended that all Office of Personnel Management investigative reports involving security clearances include any available police documentation, senior Navy officials said Monday. Mabus issued the recommendation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

This first report focused on Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis' service record while a member of the Navy Reserve.  Alexis shot and killed 12 people on Sept. 16 at the Navy Yard before he was also killed.

Mabus' recommendation followed the discovery that OPM officials did not highlight Alexis' use of a weapon in a 2004 incident in a report sent to the Navy as part of his security clearance investigation.

Alexis enlisted in the Navy Reserve in May of 2007 and received a security clearance from the Navy in March 2008. An arrest in Seattle in 2004 has left many wondering how Alexis could have received a security clearance even though it involved a gun.

Alexis was initially charged with malicious mischief for shooting the tires on a construction worker's vehicle, according the Navy officials familiar with his record. The charges were later dropped and Alexis was released from jail following an overnight stay.

The OPM report on Alexis provided to the Navy during the clearance investigation makes no mention of any firearm or shooting. Instead, it stated Alexis "deflated the tires on a construction worker's vehicle."

Although senior Navy officials would not comment on behalf of OPM, or address their processes in any way, they said OPM officials interviewed Alexis regarding this incident.

It is unclear whether OPM sought a copy of the police report or talked with anyone else related to this 2004 incident in Seattle. The conflict resulted from a dispute between Alexis and construction workers regarding whether they could park in front of the house where he was staying, according to the OPM report.

When asked about how the detail about using firearms and shooting was not included in the OPM report, senior Navy officials referred only to the information they were given.

"It is difficult to see a glaring indicator for any kind of potential [for violence]," a senior Navy official said.

Overall, Alexis' record in the Navy was characterized by senior Navy officials as that of a "mid-performing sailor who had exhibited some potential." However, Alexis' service record was checkered with arrests and non-judicial punishments, better known as NJPs.

In 2008 he was arrested but not charged for disorderly conduct outside a nightclub in DeKalb County, Ga. He did not show up to work following the arrest and received a NJP for an unauthorized absence. He received half his pay for two months and reduced by one pay grade.

In 2009, he received another NJP for drunk and disorderly conduct. He was reduced one pay grade. However, he later appealed this ruling and won.

A year later, Alexis was again arrested. This time, he fired a gun in his apartment with the bullet piercing the ceiling. He told police it was an accidental discharge while cleaning his gun. He was not charged and not punished by the Navy.

Alexis received an honorable discharge from the Navy in January 2011.

Two other recommendations emerged from this first report into Alexis' record. First, senior Navy officials recommended the service require senior-level accountability for all individual evaluations/fitness reports in order to hopefully catch future red flags.

Also, an official memo to the Secretary of the Navy regarding the investigation recommends that security manager responsibilities be assigned to senior members of command leadership instead of the current system which assigns these duties to junior managers. 

The other two reviews ordered by Mabus remain ongoing, Navy officials said. One is a review of the requirements and processes in place for contracting companies to inform the Navy in the event those companies choose to review an employee's security clearance.

The other review implements guidance mentioned Sunday by Hagel wherein he called for an examination of the entire process and procedures under which security clearances are granted and reviewed.

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