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Pentagon watchdog finds 'serious deficiencies' in submitting criminal info to FBI database

Pentagon watchdog finds 'serious deficiencies' in submitting criminal info to FBI database
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The Pentagon’s watchdog arm has found that, in the past two years, military services didn’t submit criminal data to the FBI database used for background checks nearly 30 percent of the time

The “serious deficiencies” are highlighted in a newly released report as part of a larger issue that includes the Air Force’s failure to report alleged Texas church shooter Devin Kelley’s domestic abuse conviction to the FBI, an oversight that allowed Kelley to buy weapons.

The Department of Defense (DOD) inspector general — in reviewing 2,502 convictions handled in the military court system in 2015 and 2016 — found that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps failed to submit fingerprint cards to the FBI in 601, or 24 percent, of the cases.

Officials in all four branches also failed to submit final disposition reports in 780, or 31 percent, of the cases.

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“Our report again identified serious deficiencies throughout the DOD in reporting criminal history information to the FBI,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, said in a statement.

“It is critical that the DOD fully implement our recommendations to correct past deficiencies and prevent future lapses in reporting,” he said.

The report comes roughly a month after authorities found that the Air Force had failed to report to the FBI the domestic violence conviction of Kelley, the man accused of killing 26 people in a mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

In 2014, Kelley was sentenced to a year in prison and received a bad conduct discharge after a court-martial conviction on two counts of domestic abuse against his wife and stepson. That conviction should have barred him from purchasing a gun.

The DOD inspector general is separately investigating what happened in that case.

The report does not note why the fingerprints and reports did not get submitted to the FBI but urges service officials to “take prompt action” to put in place controls to make sure such criminal data is submitted.

Broken down by service, the Army was the worst offender with 262 missing fingerprint cards (28 percent), as well as 385 (41 percent) missing reports.

The Navy, meanwhile, did not submit 197 (29 percent) fingerprints and 243 (36 percent) reports.

The report also found the Marine Corps had 37 (29 percent) missing fingerprint cards and 46 (36 percent) missing reports.

The Air Force did not submit the fingerprints of 105 (14 percent) convicted airmen and was also missing 106 (14 percent) reports.

The inspector general also recommends the Army, Air Force and Navy secretaries, as well as the DOD intelligence undersecretary, conduct a review of their criminal history reporting programs at least to 1998.

Several similar reviews are already underway. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein last month directed the Office of Special Investigations and Security Forces to review 60,000 incidents since 2002 that should have been entered into the database, to be completed over the next several months.

The DOD inspector general is also reviewing “more broadly the policies, practices, and procedures regarding when appropriate information is submitted throughout the DOD by its law enforcement agencies for entry into FBI databases,” according to the report.