Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to order a review of security and access at military installations around the world, as questions mount over why the Navy Yard shooter -- an ex-reservist with a troubled past -- had a security clearance and how he was able to bring a shotgun into the military building.
"This is very, very hard to understand," former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News.
Several reviews are about to get underway in the wake of the deadly shooting. President Obama wants a review of contractor and employee security, according to Press Secretary Jay Carney. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus was already planning a review of Navy and Marine installations.
The decisions come as the incident once again raises concerns about the quality of the background checks being done for those in sensitive government positions, particularly for contractors. Shooter Aaron Alexis had been working as a defense subcontractor, and had his security clearance renewed just two months before the rampage -- despite a history of troubling and violent behavior. Twelve people, in addition to the gunman, were killed in the shooting.
Several officials have said Alexis' clearance is another indication that U.S. government background checks are falling short. Similar concerns were raised after NSA leaker Edward Snowden used his top-secret security clearance to gain access to, and then share, highly classified documents.
"The same thing with Snowden, now we see it here," former Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam told Fox News. He said a big problem is the background check process for contractors. "The backbone of the government is contractors. We have to have a better system in vetting these people that come on board," he said.
According to a 2012 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, more than 4.9 million people had security clearances in 2012. Of them, more than 1 million were contractors.
Bob Strang, former co-chairman of the New York Anti-Terrorism Task Force, said the government is going to have to spend more money on its background checks.
"They're bidding these things out, they're getting a rock-bottom price, and they're having non-agents do the (background checks), and this is what we get," he said.
Giuliani said there are simply too many security clearances going out.
"At 4 million, it's impossible to vet accurately," he said.
At the same time, Giuliani noted that a security clearance does not automatically give anybody the ability to carry a gun into a secure military installation.
"No one cleared him to have guns," Giuliani said.
He said the real concern is that this is "not a well-defended facility."
Meanwhile, a new Defense Department inspector general report revealed that 52 felons have gotten unauthorized access to military facilities.
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the report reveals "critical flaws" in this practice.
Sources, though, also said that the specific problems the report explored do not pertain to the kind of access card Alexis had for the Navy building in Washington.