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Hagel to order security review

  • September 17, 2013 - 11:26 PM

multiple reviews are ordered

President Obama ordered a sweeping federal review of security-clearance procedures following revelations that the man who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard had a secret clearance that gave him access to the base, despite at least three prior arrests and severe psychological problems that included hearing voices.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also intends to order a security review at U.S. military bases worldwide, a senior Pentagon official said.

Typically, security clearances involve a review of credit reports, criminal records and other publicly available data. Applicants also fill out a questionnaire in which they are supposed to reveal any potentially incriminating information, as well as education and employment. But the extent and detail of this vetting varies, depending on the level of clearance sought and the agency that is handling the clearance. There are four levels: confidential, secret, top secret and “sensitive compartmented information.”

The Washington Post noted that more than 4.9 million federal government workers and contractors held a security clearance in 2012 — the vast majority of whom work for the Department of Defense. Some critics contend security clearances have become less thorough because of federal budget cuts. The Post said the cost of each investigation varies, depending on how deep investigators dig into the background of an applicant. In 2012, it said, the base price of a secret clearance investigation was $260, while a top-secret clearance check can cost more than $4,000.

new gun control efforts unlikely

Even among those who fought hardest to pass an ill-fated gun control bill earlier this year, the political reality was undeniable: If the Newtown, Conn., massacre could not persuade Congress to pass tougher laws, a mass shooting less than a mile away from Capitol Hill was not going to either.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who proposed a bill that would have strengthened background checks, seemed at a loss when asked whether the shooting had changed anything. “We don’t know,” he said. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who sponsored an assault weapons ban that garnered only 40 of the 60 votes needed, said: “If I can find 20 people that want to change their mind, I’m ready to go. I’m not optimistic right now.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed that gun control could not pass the Senate right now. “We don’t have the votes,” he said. “We don’t have them now.”

Even more modest measures to address gun violence, including ones with bipartisan support that would strengthen the mental health system, seemed unlikely to go anywhere.

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