The military’s beleaguered background-check system failed to block Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis from an all-access pass to a half-dozen military installations, despite a history of arrests for shooting episodes and disorderly conduct.
Alexis, a military contractor working on a computer project, used his secret-level clearance to gain entry to the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, where officials said he gunned down a dozen people before being killed by police.
The revelations about Alexis’s troubled past — and his ability to pass the government’s security-check system — prompted multiple examinations Tuesday into how background checks are conducted and how long a security clearance can last without review. The system was already under scrutiny after leaks of classified documents by fugitive National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
President Obama directed his budget office to conduct a government-wide review of security standards for contractors and employees across federal agencies. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also ordered a broad review into security and access to military installations worldwide.
More than 24 hours after the deadly rampage, there was still widespread confusion over how Alexis managed to escape scrutiny since being given access to classified materials and facilities five years ago. The private contractor that most recently employed him pointed the finger at the Defense Department, which defended its handling of the case.
Alexis was granted secret-level security clearance in March 2008, when he was working as a full-time Navy reservist, according to the Pentagon. He was discharged from the Navy in January 2011 after a series of run-ins with his military superiors and police. . . . (read more)
Defense Department orders review of security clearance procedures (Washington Post)
Defense Department officials on Wednesday ordered a broad review of the procedures used to grant security clearances to employees and contractors, acknowledging that years of escalating warning signs about Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis went unheeded.
Top intelligence and military officials concede that issuing millions of people security clearances for up to 10 years without regular reviews is a serious safety risk. . . . (read more)
A group of bipartisan senators asked the government’s Office of Personnel Management to investigate the steps that were taken to grant Aaron Alexis the security clearance that allowed him to gain entrance to the Navy Yard where he killed 12 people on Monday.. . .(read more)
Justice Department prosecutors are reviewing the security clearance given to Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis as part of an expanding federal investigation into suspected fraud in the granting of such access, law enforcement officials tell NBC News.
Prosecutors working for Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen are examining the circumstances surrounding the “secret” security clearance given to Alexis by the Navy in March 2008 — despite a previous arrest for shooting a neighbor’s car, one official said. They are also seeking to determine why Alexis was permitted to retain the security clearance as a civilian contractor despite two later arrests — one for disorderly conduct in Georgia and another for discharging a firearm in Fort Worth, Texas — as well as mental health problems that were reported to the Navy, the official said.
Two sources familiar with the investigation said the initial background investigation of Alexis is believed to have been conducted by an outside contractor working for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal agency charged with conducting background checks for individuals seeking security clearances. The agency oversaw 2.1 million such investigations in 2012, about three-fourths of which were performed by outside contractors, according to federal officials. . . . (read more)
America’s Poverty Rate Stuck At 15 Percent For Second Straight Year (Huffington Post)
The U.S. poverty rate was essentially unchanged at 15 percent in 2012, as roughly 46.5 million people were stuck living at or below the poverty line, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. This marks the second straight year that both the poverty rate and total number of people living in poverty were stuck at their current levels. . . .(read more)
BOOK: Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? by Patrick J. Buchanan
Health officials have been warning us about antibiotic overuse and drug-resistant “superbugs” for a long time. But today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm in a new way.
For the first time, the CDC is categorizing drug-resistant superbugs by threat level. That’s because, in their conservative estimates, more than 2 million people get antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and at least 23,000 die because current drugs no longer stop their infections.
Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria that cause infection. However, in the process they can also kill so-called good bacteria (the human body hosts about 100 trillion).
The Missouri Department of Health explains it this way: “Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.” . . (read more)
When Leo Villani died in January after a car accident, his coworkers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School mourned the loss of a great colleague.
They remembered a financial analyst who kept his $46,000 a year job despite getting a big inheritance, someone who was always “singing” and “laughing,” as coworkers told the Boston Globe.
What they didn’t learn until after his death was that the 54-year-old Villani had been embezzling millions for years, according to authorities.
He’d claimed that his 4,000 square-foot McMansion and Porsche were financed with his “inheritance;” but the school said in fact, Villani spent the last five years routing $3.4 million intended for the state Medicaid insurance program to a fake corporation he had set up.
The reported scheme was only uncovered after Villani’s death when a review of his work uncovered “discrepancies” in the account, which was supposed to be used for administering payments for the state Medicaid program, known as MassHealth. . . .
. . . In total, there were 538 new arrests or indictments of workers who allegedly stole a total of $735 million last year from schemes worth more than $100,000, according to Boston-based security firm, Marquet International.
The total is the highest in five years, and as Marquet CEO Chris Marquet told AOL Jobs in May, “major embezzlements usually take five years to be found out, so many schemes that began at the beginning of the crisis are just beginning to pop up.”
And as it turns out, Villani does not fit the profile of the usual workplace embezzler. Nearly two out of 3 alleged workplace embezzlers from major schemes last year were women, according to Marquet International.
The majority were in their 40’s and worked as bookkeepers or treasurers. Why? The embezzlers “need to have risen to the level of authority in an organization where they are able to scheme against the company,” Marquet said.
And, he said, “bookkeepers and people in that role tend to be women.” . . . (read more)