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TODAY   |  September 18, 2013

Former FBI on why Alexis may have kept clearance

Don Borelli, former FBI counterterrorism chief, says that suspected Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was the kind of officer who was “always on the verge” of losing security clearances but wasn’t  “sick enough” for officials to take action.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is the chief operating officer and former assistant special agent in charge of the new york fbi joint terrorism task force . good to see you. welcome back.

>> thank you.

>> you're hearing what we're hearing. about this guy's past, emotionally, in the law, in the military, what jumps out at you?

>> first thing, i would want to start with his pre-employment background check . people in security know the best way to prevent work place violence is to try to weed people out like this before they even get hired. i would want to go back to when he got hired to see, what was done? was there a thorough background check done by the employer?

>> were the right questions asked or were there privacy concerns? were some questions off limits?

>> that's the thing. in many states, in most states, an arrest record isn't even something you can get into until it's a conviction. he used his weapon and shot into a neighbor's house or shot into a car that might not have come up.

>> charges of insubordination, disorderly conduct, they considered him for dishonorable discharge but didn't give it to him. he had trouble with the law. the incidents where he discharged his firearm in anger at least once and he called police to say he was being followed by men using microwave machines to send vibrations through a wall. he then went to a va hospital and said i'm hearing voices . how does a guy like that get clearance or not use his clearance.

>> this was a guy always right on the verge. kind of operating in the margins. sick but not enough to get him kick out of the system.

>> is it possible that each individual incident wasn't -- didn't rise to the level but no one took the time to read the sum of the parts?

>> that's a possibility. i'm sure there's going to be a lot of people looking into what happened. i'd also want to say look at his background check . he was obviously given a security clearance and what was the scope of that clearance? was it just looking at open source data bases or did the company that conducted the clearance did they talk to people and family and former employers to say is there a history with this guy. tell us about him. what kind of person is he.

>> here's a number that jumps out, 4.9 million people, contractors, military personnel, government employees have that kind of clearance.

>> huge.

>> that seems like a big number to me. should we be worried about it.

>> it's a big number. it's a big industry. i know people involved that do these background checks . it's a very high volume kind of low margin operation. they want to do these things quickly and efficiently as possible. but the goal is to get these potential employees online working as soon as possible. so are all the quality controls in place? you know, i guess this is what's going to be looking at -- what we'll be looking at as we review the situation here.

>> don, thank you very much.

>> thank you.