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A new government audit suggests budget constraints could be affecting security at a variety of military installations, including the Navy Yard – site of Monday's deadly shooting rampage.
Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, spoke with the special Inspector General who conducted the audit.
"They're very concerned about the safety at the Navy facilities," said Turner. Their report "is very condemning of the Navy's vetting process, not accessing criminal records, not even looking for possible terror suspects."
The Inspector General will now look at the circumstances of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, and "compare that against the lack of vetting processes that they've seen within the Navy, and to try to make that correlation," said Turner.
Troubling information has emerged about Alexis since the shooting. According to Navy officials, he was cited at least eight times for misconduct during his military career, including insubordination and excessive absences. He had been arrested for gun violence once prior to enlistment, and was arrested twice more while serving. In 2008 he was charged with disorderly conduct, then arrested again in 2011 for firing a gun through his apartment ceiling.
Yet Alexis was still given security clearance.
"That's part of the problem. The Inspector General in their report identified 52 felons that had received access to Navy facilities that had not been identified, but were later caught in the system when their names were re-vetted," said Turner.
In the report, the Navy cites budget constraints for its new process of permitting access to Navy facilities, and also rejected the Inspector General's recommendations to tighten security because of those budget constraints. The report predates sequestration.
"The (Inspector General) raises the issue of how does the Navy look at the issue of balancing both security risk and budgetary constraints," said Turner.
"Security is not an area that should at all suffer as we look to ways in which cuts might be able to be found," said Turner.