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In Her Own Words: After shooting, examine contractor hiring practices

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. speaks as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stands at left  during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. speaks as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stands at left during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

In the wake of Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte called for a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to examine federal contractor hiring practices at military installations. Here’s what she wrote:

Dear Chairman (Tom) Carper and Ranking Member (Tom) Coburn:

Like all Americans, I was deeply saddened by the tragic events at Washington Navy Yard on Monday. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of these horrific crimes. In light of this tragedy, I write to request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hold a hearing to address contracting hiring practices and security procedures at our nation’s military installations.

Media reports indicate that the alleged gunman at Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis, was a former Navy Reservist and current contractor with a troubled past, including several incidents which reportedly came to the attention of law enforcement.

While any instance of lawbreaking by a service member or government contractor with a security clearance warrants scrutiny, this case is particularly disturbing given Alexis’s pattern of troubling behavior. In addition to multiple incidents with both civilian law enforcement and his military superiors, reports indicate that Alexis sought mental health assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

While we have yet to paint a full picture of Alexis’s past or the sequence of events leading up to and on the morning of Sept. 16, 2013, we must move quickly to fully understand contracting hiring practices at military installations to ensure that federal contractors are qualified, fit to serve, and don’t pose a danger to the workforce, or our national security.

In the wake of this tragedy, we must thoroughly review and fix deficiencies within existing federal contracting hiring practices that the alleged Washington Navy Yard gunman exposed and exploited to ensure the safety of all service members, civilian workers and contractors.

It is with this in mind that I request a committee hearing as soon as possible to examine these important issues. Thank you for your consideration.

(U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a Republican from New Hampshire.)

Legacy Comments9

The reporting of mentally ill patient records is the issue. And that issue is a sticky one in regards to who is considered mentally ill. It also includes many folks who deem that reporting those records is stigmatizing the mentally ill. So it is a huge issue. There needs to be common sense problem solving in this area. States need reporting rules to adhere to as opposed to voluntary rules. Many states are lax in reporting not only those records, but other records.

Great letter Kelly. At least 1 of our US Senators are productive attacking one of the root causes to the problem. My guess by her past poor performance Jeanne Shaheen is going to say what ever Obama tells her to say. I am going to get a jump on our usual suspects who tow the liberal line and blame everyone but themselves. Fact Arron Alexis was an Obama supporter and a known liberal who targeted a gun free zone. Sound familiar?

Your claim that Alexis targeted a gun-free zone is nonsense. Your other claims regarding Alexis are irrelevant to the issue. Alexis was mentally ill, yet still able to legally acquire a gun. It is simply too easy to obtain a gun in this country, and there is a direct correlation between the level of gun violence that exists and the fact we are awash in guns. The proliferation of guns does not make us safer, either in our homes or on the street. It is madness to pretend otherwise.

Alexis was mentally ill, yet still able to legally acquire a security clearance.

He HAD the security clearance which stayed with him from his navy days. The clearance (and his pass to WNY) was never revoked because he was honorably discharged. On the other hand he was mentally ill and and did legally acquire a firearm. See the difference?

to Grac below...according to the LA times...the company he worked for did a background check in issues..Wonder why??

Perhaps the background check came back clean because of the honorable discharge and the fact that medical records are confidential. Or perhaps they were just sloppy. In either case (or any other), the fact remains that his security clearance was granted by the navy, preexisting his civilian employment; and the contractors would have to find a concrete reason to revoke it, which clearly they did not.

Yes, Alexis was a liberal and an Obama supporter. Can't argue with the mental illness aspect of your argument.

Gun-free zone? Pure delusion. Didn't Alexis acquire one of his weapons from an armed security guard whom he had shot and killed? As to Sen. Shaheen saying whatever President Obama tells her to, do you think it not in the least revealing that Sen. Ayotte is photographed under the looming watch of Mitch McConnell?

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