The District of Columbia Navy Yard is reopening today for the first time since Navy contractor Aaron Alexis killed a dozen people there on Monday. The Chairman of a Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight has a lot of questions especially because of something else that happened that day.
Senator McCaskill’s subcommittee asked the Defense Department Inspector General a year ago to look into a whistleblower’s complaint about contractor access to Navy facilities. A preliminary copy of the report hit McCaskill’s desk the day of the Alexis shootings. She says it reveals “severe systemic problems” with background checks on contractors.
She says the subcommittee will work with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy to change contractor access and to improve background checks. “We cannot prevent every incident of violence,” she says, “But we can make sure the system works. And clearly this system is broken.” She says the report shows problems go far beyond Aaron Alexis; the problems focus on clearing people so they can have access rather than a goal of aggressive screening.
She’s not sure more aggressive screening would have kept Alexis out of the Navy Yard although he had a police record of inappropriate gun violence–but it would have highlighted his previous run-ins with authorities investigating gun violence incidents.
McCaskill says her subcommittee already had started looking into contractor background checks after Edward Snowden stole secret surveillance information from the National Security Agency.