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OPM stands by its background check of Alexis

Sep. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By JIM McELHATTON   |   Comments
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Police respond to the the shooting Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington. The federal agency that oversees background checks on employees and contractors said its file on Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis was 'complete and in compliance,' even as lawmakers question how he could have held a secret clearance despite a paper trail of arrests. (Saul Loeb / AFP)

The federal agency that oversees background checks on employees and contractors said its file on Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis was “complete and in compliance,” even as lawmakers question how he could have held a secret clearance despite a paper trail of arrests.

“When OPM undertook the background investigation for Aaron Alexis in 2007, with support from a government contractor, USIS, the appropriate federal records were obtained, and the required fieldwork was performed,” Mert Miller, associate director for federal investigative services at the Office of Personnel Management, said in a statement late Thursday.

Alexis’ record included gun-related arrests in 2004 and 2010 and a disorderly conduct charge in 2008.

Miller’s account suggests the Defense Department had information about Alexis’ arrest in 2004. He was charged but not prosecuted in that case for shooting out the tires of a construction vehicle in what he told Seattle police was an anger-fueled blackout.

CNN has reported that a senior Navy officer said Navy officials knew about Alexis' 2004 arrest for shooting out the tires of a car, but decided to grant him security clearance anyway in 2007.

Miller said OPM’s involvement with matters involving Alexis ended when the case was sent to the Defense Department in 2007.

“DOD did not ask OPM for any additional investigative actions after it received the complete background investigation,” he said.

Alexis, who was a Navy reservist from 2007 to 2011, received a secret clearance after being deemed eligible by the Navy’s Central Adjudication Facility in March 2008, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Service confirmed in a statement.

He also retained his access to secret information when he became a contractor under reciprocity rules, according to DSS. But no derogatory information turned up in the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), which is the Pentagon’s management system for security clearance actions.

In a statement, DSS said an individual with Mr. Alexis’ “non-critical level of eligibility” would only need to be reinvestigated once every ten years.

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