Lack of detail on Navy Yard shooter 'jumped out' at top Pentagon leaders

Navy leaders were only informed of Seattle shooting after Alexis killed 12 people during a shooting rampage at the Navy's Washington headquarters at the Navy Yard Sept. 16. 

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Alexis was killed in a shootout with police after they responded to shots being fired at the Navy base in Southeast Washington, D.C. 

The incident is "exactly the kind of thing . . . had it been spotted and understood to be indicative of this possibility might have led to an intervention that would have prevented" last Monday's deadly shootings, Carter said during a Pentagon press briefing on Wednesday. 

As a result, Pentagon leaders are looking at adopting a Navy measure requiring reviews of all police records associated with military or civilians seeking a security clearance. 

That would include "convictions down to reported incidents and everything in between," according to Carter. 

"That's definitely part of the [Pentagon] review. An important part," he said Wednesday. 

The requirement is one of several recommendations handed down by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Monday, stemming from a service investigation into the Navy Yard shootings. 

Prior to his enlistment in the Navy in 2007, Alexis shot out the tires of a vehicle as part of an "ongoing argument" between Alexis's family and a construction company working nearby the family's home in Seattle, according to the Navy. 

During the course of the OPM investigation of Alexis's enlistment, officials from the office interviewed him on the details of his arrest in Seattle for the 2004 shooting. 

As part of the OPM report submitted to Navy leaders in 2007, investigators told the service Alexis was arrested after he "deflated the tires on a construction worker's vehicle," according to Navy documents. 

"There was no reference to a gunshot or firearm" in the OPM report to Navy leaders, the service official said Monday. 

As a result, Navy officials did not object to Alexis being granted Secret clearance upon his enlistment into the service. 

Through reviews of police records for individuals seeking security clearances is only one of several measures being explored in the DOD-wide review of the shootings. 

The main Defense Department-led inquiry, announced by Hagel earlier this month, is being led by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, according to Carter. 

The Defense Department is reportedly weighing whether to stop using private contractors for background checks in the aftermath of the shootings. 

Earlier this month, a Defense Department official told reporters that Alexis was not subjected to a reinvestigation for his security clearance after being hired for the IT job at the Navy Yard. 

Reinvestigations for security clearances could be triggered when a former military member is transitioning into contractor or civilian service, according to Pentagon officials. 

But that only occurs if the time between retirement and re-entry is more than two years and if “derogatory information” is uncovered, officials say.

However, if additional details of the Seattle shootings had been provided to the Navy, the incident would have raised serious red flags on whether Alexis should have been granted a security clearance, service officials argue. 

Additionally, Pentagon officials admitted Monday that Alexis was nearly forced out of the military multiple times for alcohol and weapons violations before being honorably discharged in 2011. 

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) is pressing the Navy on why Alexis was granted an honorable discharge, despite his checkered service record. 

"I am concerned that the Navy may have missed opportunities to prevent this tragedy well before it happened," Ayotte wrote in a letter to Mabus last Thursday. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last Wednesday the panel planned to hold hearings on the entire security clearance process.