The Navy Yard Shooting Could Have Been Prevented, Review Finds

But the Defense Department says it does not have the current capabilities to prevent such a large-scale attack.

Law enforcement rushed to the Washington Navy Yard following a shooting that left 12 dead on Sept. 16.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Add to Briefcase
Matt Vasilogambros
March 18, 2014, 7:07 a.m.

The Wash­ing­ton Navy Yard shoot­ing that left 12 people dead in Septem­ber could have been pre­ven­ted, a De­fense De­part­ment in­tern­al re­view re­leased on Tues­day re­veals.

It took six months to com­plete the re­view of a shoot­ing that baffled Wash­ing­ton, when Aaron Alex­is, a fed­er­al con­tract­or with se­cur­ity clear­ance, drove in­to work on Sept. 16 with a shot­gun and opened fire on his cowork­ers. Law-en­force­ment of­ficers on the scene killed him.

After its in­vest­ig­a­tion, the De­fense De­part­ment re­view stated that there were “missed op­por­tun­it­ies” that “may have pre­ven­ted the tra­gic res­ult at the Wash­ing­ton Navy Yard.”

But the re­view in­cludes one ma­jor, dis­con­cert­ing caveat: “Even if those vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies had not been present, neither the per­son­nel se­cur­ity pro­cess nor the phys­ic­al se­cur­ity cap­ab­il­ity is equipped or de­signed to pre­vent the kind of vi­ol­ence ex­hib­ited by Aaron Alex­is.”

Fol­low­ing his ser­vice in the Navy, Alex­is was treated on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions for psy­cho­lo­gic­al is­sues. He also had a couple of run-ins with the law for il­leg­ally dis­char­ging his weapon. While the Pentagon con­cedes that, in­di­vidu­ally, these events were not enough to pre­dict this out­come, to­geth­er they are damning.

These in­stances, the re­view says, should have been de­tec­ted by the back­ground in­vest­ig­a­tion be­fore he re­ceived his se­cur­ity clear­ance. His em­ploy­er at the time of the shoot­ing, a de­fense con­tract­ing com­pany called the Ex­perts, had no in­sight in­to these be­ha­vi­ors, nor did the com­pany re­port his psy­cho­lo­gic­al is­sues to the De­fense De­part­ment, the re­port con­tin­ues.

There were also gaps in se­cur­ity at the Wash­ing­ton Navy Yard, the re­port shows, as ran­dom in­spec­tions for vehicles and bags did not meet De­fense De­part­ment stand­ards.

“There is no way to know, however, wheth­er more fre­quent in­spec­tions might have giv­en law-en­force­ment per­son­nel the op­por­tun­ity to dis­cov­er the weapon Alex­is car­ried onto the in­stall­a­tion and neut­ral­ize or min­im­ize the im­me­di­ate threat,” the re­port says.

Plans to cut se­cur­ity pres­ence at mil­it­ary bases, however, “are likely to leave the de­part­ment vul­ner­able to threat.”

In light of re­cent fatal shoot­ings at U.S. mil­it­ary bases, in­clud­ing when Maj. Nid­al Has­an killed 13 people in 2009, the Pentagon has looked in­to ways of pre­vent­ing this kind of vi­ol­ence long be­fore the shoot­ing be­gins. The re­view re­com­mends more eval­u­ations of cleared De­fense De­part­ment per­son­nel us­ing “auto­mated re­cords checks and re­ports of be­ha­vi­or of con­cern and re­com­mend ac­tion as ap­pro­pri­ate,” while also in­creas­ing a se­cur­ity pres­ence at mil­it­ary build­ings.

A sep­ar­ate in­de­pend­ent re­view also re­com­mends new se­cur­ity in­stall­a­tions at mil­it­ary build­ings, while also cut­ting the num­ber of De­fense De­part­ment em­ploy­ees and con­tract­ors with se­cur­ity clear­ance by 10 per­cent. The re­view fur­ther notes that there should be “more and bet­ter” data for clear­ance checks, and in­creased men­tal health care aware­ness.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel said Tues­day the de­part­ment would close the “troub­ling gaps” with the se­cur­ity of con­tract­ors, mil­it­ary, and se­cur­ity per­son­nel.

What We're Following See More »
“HOLY HELL TO PAY” IF TRUMP FIRES A.G.
Sen. Graham Supporting Sessions
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Sen. Lindsay Graham said he is '100 percent behind' embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and said there would be 'holy hell to pay' if President Donald Trump fires him. Graham also said that if the president went after special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who’s directing the investigation into possible contacts between Trump’s circle and Russia, that could be the 'beginning of the end of the Trump presidency, unless Mueller did something wrong.'"

Source:
AMiDST COMMS STAFF SHAKEUP
Sanders New WH Press Secretary
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"With little pomp or circumstance, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped up to the briefing room podium and got straight to business Friday, reading announcements about "Made in America Week" and a new executive order on defense. Minutes later, newly minted communications director Anthony Scaramucci announced she was formally taking over as White House press secretary. In the aftermath of a chaotic communications staff shakeup at the White House last week, there was little attention paid to a new milestone as Sanders assumed the role."

Source:
JOINT CHIEFS TO KEEP POLICY UNTIL GIVEN DIRECTIONS
No Instructions to Pentagon, No Change in Transgender Policy
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The highest ranking military officer in the country said that the military’s transgender policy won’t actively change until President Trump sends specific directions to the Pentagon. 'There will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,' Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in a letter."

Source:
TO INVICTUS GAMES IN CANADA
FLOTUS First Trip Solo
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
SCARAMUCCI INSINUATED PRIEBUS LEAKED INFO
Two of Trump’s Top Advisors Feuding
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A long-simmering feud between two of President Trump’s top advisers reached a boiling point Thursday, as White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci publicly insinuated that chief of staff Reince Priebus is a leaker."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login