NAVY YARD SHOOTING

Could the Navy Yard shooting have been prevented?

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Naval station police were warned by authorities in Rhode Island that Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was hearing voices and feared he was under constant surveillance. Those warnings never amounted to much, as Alexis was able to keep his civil contractor position and security clearance.

Navy Yard Shooting victims photos

Navy Yard Shooting victims photos 11 Photos
Navy Yard Shooting victims photos

Now, an Associated Press review of background checks has discovered that the system is overwhelmed by the nearly 5 million Americans who have security clearances.

Renny Delaney is an attorney with Bean, Kinney and Kormin in Arlington and a former Army intelligence officer. Now, he represents people who have issues with security clearances.

"What it’s designed to do is to figure out if someone is giving out our secrets,” Delaney says.

But the system does not detect who those who commit acts of violence.

The review find that there are just too many people track and database many times are incomplete. The backlog started after 9-11.

"After 9/11, we made a choice and the choice was all of this information gets shared,” Delaney says. “More about people getting clearances, which means you can't vet them all the way you might want to."

The evidence is mounting that Alexis's mental state was rapidly deteriorating and Navy officials were never notified. Alexis, a practicing Buddhist, reportedly came to Washington after he went to a temple complaining to monks that he was hearing voices.

According to the FBI, Alexis was working on a computer server program in Navy Yard building 197, which allowed him to enter and move about the facility freely.

The same company that scrutinized the former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden – the self-described NSA leaker - for a U.S. government security clearance also checked the background of Alexis.

USIS said it found nothing wrong at the time.

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