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Govt. Holds Hearing Discussing Security Clearance

The Senate Homeland Security Committee holds a hearing this morning to discuss Government clearances stemming from Navy Yard shootings in September.
(NBC News) It's now been more than one month since the tragic Navy Yard shooting and federal officials say they are already making improvements to the flawed background check system that allowed the shooter, Aaron Alexis, to get access to the yard.

On Capitol Hill today senators questioned if enough is being done.

Senators expressed concern that the current background check system is more about checking form boxes and less about really making sure a person is safe.

Now they're demanding a change.

The Washington Navy Yard shooting revealed critical flaws in the government's background check system according to senators who lined up the federal officials responsible for the checks today.

"Getting this right is personal to me," said Joseph Jordan of the Office of Management and Budget.

Senators called revelations investigators overlooked the shooter's disciplinary issues in the Navy unacceptable.

And they questioned why investigators never obtained police reports pertaining to Aaron Alexis, before him became a contractor.

"If you don't look at police reports, and you don't look at criminal background. What do you look at?" asked democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

"No we did look at criminal background" said Elaine Kaplan, acting Director of the Office of Personal Management.

Today's hearing also comes as the Justice Department joins a lawsuit accusing a background check firm of failing to do its job correctly.

It also follows damaging leaks by N.S.A. Contractor Edward Snowden and Army private Chelsea Manning.

"We have three different instances, in our very recent history, where we have obviously failed," charged republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Federal officials say they've already made improvements.

"We have increased the frequency of the audits of cases closed by the contractor," Kaplan said.

"The notion you are doing quality control is offensive because i think there was just a lot of checking boxes going on," accused democratic Senator Clare McCaskill of Missouri.

Now senators say it's time for an overhaul.

Two big priorities for senators are more in-depth background checks and frequent reviews of individuals with a security clearance to make sure they should be allowed to keep it.
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