By Jeremy Herb - 09/18/13 07:20 PM EDT
The Senate Intelligence Committee plans to investigate military security clearance in light of the shooting at Washington's Navy Yard, committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.
Feinstein said the committee would examine the processes that allowed the Navy Yard shooter to obtain and keep his security clearances despite gun-related arrests.
“Clearly, there’s a problem with the security clearance,” Feinstein said. “We’re going to take a look at it with respect to the intelligence community at well. I think the processes need to be refined.”
Feinstein pointed to the arrests from gun-related incidents of Aaron Alexis, 34, the former Navy reservist who police say gunned down 12 people on Monday at the Navy Yard.
Defense officials say Alexis obtained a security clearance while he was in the Navy and was not subjected to a second background check when he became a contractor after leaving the service in 2011.
The officials said that under current practices, a reinvestigation could be triggered when a former military member is transitioning into contractor or civilian service. But only if the time between retirement and re-entry is more than two years and if “derogatory information” is uncovered.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that he was ordering a military-wide review of security clearance practices in order to “fix those gaps” that are in the system.
“Obviously, something went wrong,” Hagel said at a Pentagon press conference Wednesday.
Feinstein connected the failure to flag Alexis’s security clearance to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who also received a security clearance as a government contractor.