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Pentagon Orders Review of Security at Military Facilities Worldwide

September 18, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
In the wake of the killings at the Washington Navy Yard by Aaron Alexis, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered reviews of the security at U.S. military facilities worldwide, as well as the process in which the Defense Department grants security clearance. Judy Woodruff reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Our lead story tonight: There was new fallout from Monday’s mass shootings in the nation’s capital city. Orders went out today to review security, even as the investigation continued at the scene of the crime.

Stepped-up security was still in evidence at the Washington Navy Yard, while, a few miles away, at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced reviews of security at U.S. defense facilities worldwide and of the process for granting clearances.

DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: Where there are gaps, we will close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them. And where there are failures, we will correct them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s now known that Aaron Alexis, the gunman in Monday’s killings, used a valid pass to enter the Navy Yard, with a legally purchased shotgun. The Navy contractor and former reservist had been granted a security clearance in 2007, despite a prior arrest in 2004.

He retained that clearance even after another arrest in 2010. Just last month, on August 7, police in Newport, Rhode Island, reported Alexis complained of voices talking to him through the walls, floor and ceiling of his hotel room. The police say they relayed word of the incident to the Newport Naval Station, all of which left the chain of command looking for answers.

CHUCK HAGEL: Obviously, when you go back in hindsight and look at all this, there were some red flags. Of course there were. And should we have picked them up? Why didn’t we? How could we have? All those questions need to be answered.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the gunman’s motive remained a mystery. But, from her home in Brooklyn, New York, Cathleen Alexis issued a brief audio statement, apologizing for her son’s actions.

CATHLEEN ALEXIS, mother of Aaron Alexis: I don’t know why he did what he did, and I will never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that, I am glad.

To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken.

JUDY WOODRUFF: There was word today that a memorial service for the victims is set for Sunday. President Obama plans to attend.