OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: DOD begins worldwide base security review

The investigation will be led by Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and will examine physical security and access at U.S. military bases worldwide. The Pentagon's process for issuing security clearances, including those held by contractors, will also be reviewed. 

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Tuesday the service will conduct its own investigation into security gaps at Navy bases worldwide.

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Aaron Alexis, the man who police say killed 12 at the Navy Yard on Monday, received clearance for a Common Access Card that gave him access to the Navy Yard, according to a Navy official. 

A Pentagon inspector general review of Navy base security, released Tuesday, found that 52 felons had received unauthorized access to Navy and military facilities for 62 to 1,035 days. It also said that had placed “military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.”

The Navy's top uniformed officer told Congres on Wednesday that massive budget cuts facing the Pentagon are not to blame for the security shortfalls at military installations.

"We don't cut budgetary corners for security," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Pentagon investigators claimed some of the security shortfalls might have been the result of Navy cost-saving efforts. 

"To the degree we have vulnerabilities, we'll correct them, and we'll do it expeditiously," Greenert said regarding the IG report. 

But the Navy chief reiterated the continued spending reductions facing the the Navy and the Pentagon were not a cause for Monday's shootings or the security deficiencies uncovered by the IG. 

Lawmakers eye reforms in wake of shooting: Lawmakers are gearing up to address a multitude of issues in the wake of Monday’s shooting.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said her committee would be investigating the security clearance process and how Alexis slipped through the cracks with an arrest record.

“Clearly, there’s a problem with the security clearance,” Feinstein told The Hill. “With somebody arrested three times, somehow, in a security clearance, these arrests ought to be picked up. The fact that they’re connected with firearms ought to be picked up.”

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said that his committee was planning to hold a hearing on background checks, while Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was calling for an inspector general investigation into Alexis’s background check.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he didn’t have any investigations in mind yet, but that he would be looking at both the process by which Alexis got his clearance as well as the separate vetting process that was criticized in a Pentagon inspector general report on Tuesday.

Fort Hood shooting looms large over Navy Yard attack: Base security measures adopted by the military after the 2009 mass shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, did help save lives during Monday's massacre at the Navy's Washington headquarters. 

But Defense Department leaders are still struggling to close security gaps that led to both incidents, Pentagon officials told reporters on Wednesday. 

"We are in a better place now" than before the Fort Hood attacks, the official said regarding base security measures during a briefing at the Pentagon. 

At the time of the Navy Yard killings, the Pentagon had only implemented 52 of the 82 recommendations called for by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates after the Fort Hood attack. 

On Monday, Navy contractor and former petty officer Alexis killed 12 and wounded several more people during a shooting spree at the Navy Yard. 

The problem, according to the official, is that DOD officials are still attempting to strike "a bit of a balance" between overly intensive security practices and ensuring the safety of military and civilians at Pentagon installations. 

Defense Department officials are also dealing with privacy issues in their attempt to gather information on military personnel or civilians working on base, the official added. 

Hagel has ordered the "rapid implementation" of the remaining Fort Hood security recommendations in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings. 

With 13 killed and more than 30 wounded, the 2009 mass shootings by former Army Maj. Nidal Hasan remains the single deadliest attack on a military base in the United States. 

Pickering, Mullen to testify at Benghazi hearing: The leaders of an independent review of the administration’s response to last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, will testify at a House Government Oversight hearing on Thursday.

Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Retired Adm. Mike Mullen will testify to Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) panel about their report on Benghazi, which has been criticized by Issa and Republicans.

Thursday’s hearing is the main event of three Benghazi hearings that House Republicans are holding this week.

On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee slammed the State Department for not firing anyone in the aftermath of the attack.

“We're here today because, at the end of the day, nobody was held accountable,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary of State for management, at the hearing. “Reassignment just doesn't cut it in terms of addressing that issue.”

The House Armed Services Committee is also holding a hearing Thursday on the Pentagon’s posture before last year’s attack.


In Case You Missed It: 

— Senate panel to investigate security clearances

— Hagel pushes back against Panetta, Gates on Syria 

— CNO Greenert says security not sacrificed for savings 

— Fort Hood shootings cast shadow over Navy Yard massacre

— DOD defends security clearance process


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