Vetting military contractors: How did Navy Yard gunman get in?
September 17th, 2013
11:27 PM ET

Vetting military contractors: How did Navy Yard gunman get in?

Navy officers knew that Aaron Alexis had been arrested in 2004 for shooting out the tires of a car - in a blackout fueled by anger - and yet they admitted him into the Navy and granted him security clearance anyway, a senior Naval officer told CNN.

"It appears as if investigators were aware of the incident, interviewed him and were satisfied that it did not preclude granting the clearance," the officer said.

Alexis, who killed 12 people Monday at the Washington Navy Yard, was a military contractor who used a valid identification to gain access to the secured facility, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

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Russian roots of American exceptionalism
September 17th, 2013
06:59 PM ET

Russian roots of American exceptionalism

By Jill Dougherty reporting from Valdai, Russia

Even as news was breaking of a shooting at Navy headquarters in Washington, a Russian lawmaker and talk-show host jumped on it to take a swipe at "American exceptionalism."

"A new shootout at Navy headquarters in Washington – a lone gunman and 7 corpses," Alexey Pushkov, head of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, Tweeted. "Nobody's even surprised anymore. A clear confirmation of American exceptionalism."

President Barack Obama mentioned the concept in his address to the nation on Syria last week.

"When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional," Obama said.
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Secret court endorsed NSA surveillance in July
September 17th, 2013
06:51 PM ET

Secret court endorsed NSA surveillance in July

By Evan Perez

A new legal opinion from the secret court that oversees the National Security Agency's surveillance program endorsed the government's collection of data on nearly every phone call made to and from the United States.

The July legal opinion, after disclosures about the program by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, extended the government's collection of records for another 90 days, as has been done repeatedly since 2006.

The opinion by U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, a 2001 appointee of President George W. Bush, was declassified on Tuesday, in part to respond to controversy over the Snowden disclosures.

The Obama administration has declassified other opinions, in addition to those provided by Snowden to news organizations, that describe the program in past years. This is the first declassification of a current order.
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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA
First on CNN: Hagel ordering review of security in wake of Washington Navy Yard
September 17th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

First on CNN: Hagel ordering review of security in wake of Washington Navy Yard

By CNN's Barbara Starr

CNN has learned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a worldwide review of physical security measures at all US military installations in the wake of the attack at the Washington Navy Yard.

A senior Pentagon official tells CNN Hagel will order the military to look at all existing security measures to see if they are sufficient and to determine what other measures may be needed.  Still to be determined is who will be put in charge of the review and the deadline for reporting back to Hagel.

At the same time, the Pentagon is still trying to determine what it needs to do to begin a parallel review of security clearances and access standards for contractors and other employees, according to a Defense Department official.  Some elements of clearance procedures are handled by other parts of the government so coordination will be required, but the official said it’s expected some review of that element will also take place.

This follow an earlier confirmation from the Navy that it was beginning a similar physical security review at all of its installations.