52 Convicted Felons Had Routine Access to U.S. Naval Facilities

Thursday, September 19, 2013
Navy Yard shooting victim (photo: Don Andres, AP)

Within 24 hours of Monday’s Navy shipyard shooting, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released a report (pdf) that faults the U.S. Navy for weakening security at naval shipyards around the country, resulting in more than 50 convicted felons accessing the facilities.


The report, detailing an audit conducted by the DoD’s Office of Inspector General (IG), found lapses in the Navy Commercial Access Control System (pdf), which is used to screen individuals, including contractors, seeking to enter the shipyards. It is the same system that is used to screen those entering the DC Navy Yard, where Monday’s attack occurred.


An effort “to reduce access-control costs,” the report stated, was blamed for the lapses in security that allowed at least 52 felons to walk onto naval shipyards.


The IG’s audit began in September 2012. In August 2013, the IG’s office posted an update to its website saying the report would be released “within the next 30 days,” according to Alex Rogers of Time. It was finally released on Tuesday, a day after the shooting.


The surfacing of the report follows the deadly attack at the DC Navy Yard, where contractor Aaron Alexis used his access card to enter a building and kill 12 civilians and injure many more. He was in the employ of The Experts, a Hewlett-Packard IT subcontractor, whose job was to perform maintenance on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the department’s in-house system.


Alexis had a history of gun-related arrests and mental health issues before the attack.


The New York Times reported that Alexis told police in Rhode Island last month that people were spying on him, “sending vibrations through the walls” of his hotel rooms, and that he was hearing voices coming through floors and ceilings.


The DoD report makes clear that Alexis is not the only person who should not have had security clearance to enter U.S. Navy installations. Fifty-two “convicted felons received routine unauthorized [Navy] installation access, placing military personnel, attendants, civilians in installations at an increased security risk,” states the report.


The Navy has ordered a complete security review at all facilities following Alexis’ rampage.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Report Says Budget Cuts Led to Security Lapses at Navy Yard (by Connor Simpson, Atlantic Wire)

Exclusive: Navy Yard Dropped Its Guard, Pentagon Inspector General Says (by Alex Rogers, Time)

Navy Commercial Access Control System Did Not Effectively Mitigate Access Control Risks (U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General) (pdf)

Suspect’s Past Fell Just Short of Raising Alarm (by Trip Gabriel, Joseph Goldstein and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times)

The 82-Year-Old Nun Who Breached U.S. High-Security Nuclear Complex (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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