There is reason to believe that the government’s ability to spy on people is overrated and Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter, helps make the case.
The company that employed him, The Experts, said that it “enlisted a service to perform two background checks,” and those checks didn’t turn up anything of consequences.
The Experts, in an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon, also said that “we confirmed twice through the Department of Defense his Secret government clearance. The latest background check and security clearance confirmation were in late June of 2013 and revealed no issues other than one minor traffic violation.”
The Experts isn’t responding to follow up questions, and their statement doesn’t explain how the prior arrests were missed. Alexis was working on a government networking project.
But The Experts also said that it checked, twice, with the government to confirm Alexis’ security clearance. The presumption there is that the government conducted its own background check as well, but don't assume that. The government may have outsourced the work to the same party The Experts used.
But how was the arrest information missed?
Alexis’ records were available through the Seattle Police Dept., where one arrest occurred, and also through the good people at The Smoking Gun, which specializes in gathering this type of information.
It’s obvious that the background checks did not work. This isn’t about connecting the dots. There were no dots to connect. For a government background investigator, this information was as accessible as a book in a library.
The police officers who wrote the arrest reports offer ample detail about Alexis’ behavior with guns. It is impossible to believe that Alexis would have been hired for a security clearance level job had anyone read those reports. In each arrest report, he comes across as an angry person with a gun.
But even if the arrest reports were discovered by the Alexis’ employer and the government and he was denied the work, he was still going to end up somewhere, in some other workplace.
A probing observation about this nightmare was made by a doctor at the Washington Medical Center, where some of the victims were treated. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Janis Orlowski, reported NBC News, said this at a press briefing:
“There's something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate… There's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there's something wrong …”