warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Navy Yard Shooting Reveals Military Security Flaws

Ben Kraus |
September 17, 2013 | 6:42 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard prompted Secretary Ray Mabus to order a security review of all Navy installations. (Creative Commons)
Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard prompted Secretary Ray Mabus to order a security review of all Navy installations. (Creative Commons)
In the wake of Monday’s shooting rampage that left 13 dead at Navy Yard in Washington D.C., a debate more than a decade old has been revived: whether or not security procedures on military bases must be improved to prevent similar incidents.

The suspected perpetrator of the attack, Aaron Alexis, 34, was reportedly in possession of a military identification card that he used to enter the area without much scrutiny, despite being heavily armed.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called for a review Tuesday of security at all Navy and Marine establishments, including an examination of how thoroughly workers are screened.

“The Navy Yard is very tight,” J.S. Fordham, a Navy Historian who works at the compound, told The Washington Post.

“You can’t get anywhere” without proper credentials, he said.

It was not tight enough, though, to keep Alexis, a civilian contractor who was honorably discharged from the Navy, from gaining entry. And that has raised concerns over the state of security on military bases.

“I think security should be a little tighter,” said a contract specialist that works at the Navy Yard, in an exclusive eyewitness account to Neon Tommy. She requested to remain anonymous.

“You shouldn’t be able to roll onto the base with anything you want in your car. People who come on foot...should be metal detected,” she said.

Some government higher-ups and military personnel have also recently taken note of weaknesses in security at military facilities. According to Foreign Policy, "At [many] military posts... virtually anyone with one of the Common Access Cards (CAC) issued to troops, civilian Defense Department employees, and government contractors can enter the facility without being patted down or made to go through a metal detector."

According to The Washington Post, the inspector general of the Defense Department conducted an assessment this year of how the Navy grants access to bases. Reports of wrongdoing or lapses in security have often led to such inspector general inquiries.

A congressional aide is cited by the Post as noting 52 incidents of convicted felons having access to military installations in the Department’s assessment.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus ordered last month that a program be created to improve training and increase scrutiny of Navy and Marine Corps personnel in an effort to thwart non-violent and violent attacks alike, according to the Baltimore Sun

Also noted by the Post is that an independent panel commissioned by the Department of Defense to review the shooting that took place at Fort Hood military base in 2009 recommended improved mental health screenings to improve security.

However, some feel that all that can be done is being done to prevent incidents like the one on Monday.

“If you think about the thousands of people who go on military bases, it’s impossible to stop and search every car,” Jeffrey Addicott, Director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in Texas told the Sun. "Given the task at hand, they've done remarkably well.“

Reach Staff Reporter Ben Kraus here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.