WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a security review of all U.S. defense facilities worldwide and the security clearances that allow access to them.
Hagel also tasked an independent panel to undertake the same reviews. In a briefing Wednesday, he said that “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.” These reviews come in response to Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, where a dozen people were killed. Former Navy reservist and gunman Aaron Alexis was receiving mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs since August, but was not stripped of his security clearance.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who joined Hagel at Wednesday’s briefing, responded to questions about the adequacy of the background checks done on contract employees:
“I actually was one of those … who believed that men and women should have the opportunity to overcome their mental disorders or their mental challenges or their clinical health challenges and shouldn’t be stigmatized. And so, I still remain in that camp that a man or woman should have the the ability to — with treatment, to overcome them and then to have a fruitful life and gain employment, including inside the military.
This particular individual, of course, wasn’t a simple matter. I don’t know what the investigation will determine, but he committed murder. And I’m not sure that any particular question or lack of question on a security clearance would probably have revealed that.”