Chuck Hagel Discuses DC Navy Yard Security Review

Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs Chairman answer questions related to the Navy Yard shooting.
32:24 | 09/18/13

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Transcript for Chuck Hagel Discuses DC Navy Yard Security Review
This is a special report from ABC news. Hello -- Hernandez in New York with an ABC news digital special report on the deadly navy yard shooting. Defense Secretary chuck -- ordered worldwide security review of all defense institutions following Monday's shooting. Right now he and Joint Chiefs of Staff general Martin Dempsey are speaking at a news conference. Investigation proceeds into the shooting at the Washington navy yard. I've been consulting closely -- DOD's leadership. Including secretary manners and chief of naval operations admiral -- As well is with our federal and law enforcement officials. I also confirmed yesterday with the FBI director for the combing. The attorney general. Attorney general holder. And President Obama. First our thoughts and our prayers are with the victims their families. And all who. Have been affected. By what happened navy shipyard on Monday. We will grief and we will remember. And we will comfort each other. The department an offense is a strong and resilient community. And we will do everything we can to help our colleagues -- the navy yard get through this terrible terrible time. In the coming days more information will come to -- about what happened. About what went wrong. And importantly what must be fixed. Yesterday I directed to department -- -- this. These reviews will be led by deputy secretary ash Carter. And we will do everything possible. Prevent this from happening again. First I directed a review of physical. Security and access procedures. At all DOD installations worldwide. The highest responsibilities leaders who have -- to take care of their people. And our people deserve safe and secure workplaces. Wherever they are second. Deputy secretary Carter will also lead a review of DOD's practices and procedures for granting in renewing -- security clearances. Including those held by contrast. This review will be closely coordinated with other federal agencies currently examining these procedures including the -- -- OMB. I'm also directed and an independent panel be established. This independent panel will conduct its own assessment of security duty facilities. And our security clearance procedures and practices the panel's work will strengthen secretary Carter's efforts. And there will provide their findings directly to me. The department and offense will carefully examine the assessments to conclusions. And recommendations of these reviews. And we will effectively implement. As you know the navy is also conducting its own review. And those results will feed into the broader DOD review. Worldwide. Where there are gaps. We will close. Where there are inadequacies we will address it. And where there are failures. We will correct -- we -- the victims their families in all our people. Nothing less thank -- Thanks for secretary I'll -- -- my condolences over Monday's horrific shootings at the navy yard my heart goes out to the families of our fallen. To those injured during the attack their coworkers and to the entire navy family. While I cannot discuss the details and an ongoing investigation I can discuss the verdict. The first responders. Even in the midst of tragedy there are moments of triumph the most visible -- were accomplished by professionals. -- military. Police and EMTs. But there were other and scene moments equally -- -- -- especially inspired by the story of Omar grant. A navy -- civilian who helped the blind to colleague to safety. As they exit a building 19 -- seven in the middle of the shooting. Omar is usually this -- behind. The -- to run toward danger to help someone in need is a testament to an Americans character. Our military Shanley will continue to help those in need secretary of the navy has granted -- status to provide medical care to those injured in the attacks. We also mobilize teams of military chaplains throughout the area to minister to those in need. And counseling services are available for all of those affected by Monday's Rampage and I look forward your questions thank you. -- -- -- That's. To the general public who -- is sort of is a string offense snow for sun. Bradley Manning and -- this it -- There incidents there are studies and something happens again. Is there -- you did extensive studies after the assignment. So can you talk about what is it. What changes were not me then that should have been name are there gaps. And when you look at security clearances should -- lower -- far. To include more personal information please take note -- greater personal information. In order protect safety where's Babylon. Well first. Obviously something went wrong. That's -- point of directors that I have. Made in the reviews it -- will go forward. As I said in my comments. We will review everything. And from that reviews the intensity of that review. The depth and width to that review. We would hope that we will find. Some answers to how we do it better how can we do it -- The fact is that that the starting with the tragedy of what happened Monday and you mentioned other tragedies. We don't live in a risk free society. And every day. All the millions of DOD employees within their uniform -- so -- come -- help this country. Contribute to security and safety in this country. -- there's always some risk to that. And that isn't a good answer that's not good enough they deserved the security. A safe environment. We will find those gaps as -- -- in we will fix those gaps so to go beyond that in this specific areas of your questions. I would leave that to -- the review there -- many questions that are going to be asked need to be asked many reviews. In the intensity those reviews have to go down to every aspect of security physical. Premises. The security clearance. Standards and that security clearance. -- strong enough. Why do we do certain things -- we do. We we need answers and we will find those. Well I just said that the two -- the secretary said. Terms -- what we changed after some of those earlier incidents that led. Early indications are actually contributed to. To the -- less horrific outcome. Where alert notices. And coordination in advance of crises with other agencies of government. Training for. For employees and law enforcement on active shooter scenario some in some of the things we did as results of those earlier incidents. We believe actually reaped the benefit we intended. The clearance -- -- -- this is is one I think we've we've very clearly have to do -- take another look and the secretary who directed us to do yourself. Secretary Perry and Jim. You. Believe that these security clearance procedures and investigations are not rigorous enough. Or for that for the lower level security clearances that the top ten year time frame. May be too long. And and again -- question for you. General Dempsey and Syria. You've expressed concerns before about the difficulties. In securing chemical weapons sites in Syria. Even -- -- non hostile environment. If serious should agree to open up its -- not only do inspection procedure seizure by the end of this week or in any time -- -- Just how difficult would that be you think it's even possible. To secure those weapons during the civil war. While on your question regarding time frames on security clearances and -- entire. Specifics in components of security clearances timeframe the depth of the clearance kind of clearance. Access different -- is give individuals we're gonna look at all that. Obviously the longer clearances go without review. -- didn't -- there's some jeopardy -- that there's no question about it so we're gonna take a look at two every one of those components. And Syria and they're like my current role -- the -- -- in the military is to provide some planning assistance to the organization for the prevention. Chemical weapons OP CW. Who has the lead. And as well as to maintain a credible threat of force should be. -- the diplomatic track. My comments about the security. The stockpile. Remain. -- that is to say it's a very challenging it's a very challenging environment. We indicators are at this point though that the regime does have control of its stockpile. And so long as they agree. To the framework which causes them to be responsible for the security. The movement the protection of the investigators -- the inspectors. Then I think that the answer your question is it is it is feasible but we've got to make sure we keep our and all of those things. Syria or with the help of international. Assistance. Other foreign militaries. Would that involve the US by the way. The US has been trying for decades. In the process. For decades to -- The US and the Russians to of their chemical weapons how how could this be done in such -- short timeframe in the middle of the civil war. -- -- -- -- -- -- To being controlled. Destroyed or moved -- I think in some combination you -- -- is a seasonal and some combination it is feasible. But those details -- have to be worked by the -- -- Here. Two general Dempsey I wonder if you think today if mr. Asad is stronger we're USS. The the rebels and to mr. hagel -- you can talk about. What you or. -- of this. How how to Syria. Go the president how this has resolved at this -- comfortable with the with the path of the United States is on do we still need to keep up military pressure. In I don't. -- spend much time trying to understand -- -- personal. Feelings about this recent turn of events. I've said previously announced sale again that these kind of that conflicts and -- flow. We know from open source reporting that the opposition. Is concerned that this focus on. Chemicals will detract from the willingness not only in the United States -- other partners to support them. But I'll tell you you know in terms. Threats to US direct threats to US interest so I think that and I have said previously. That the elimination of the aside regimes chemical capability is right at the top of our national interest -- so. If this process -- true. And achieves its stated purpose we will be in a better position. I think. First. It's clear that the credible threat of US force. In Syria to. Led to the diplomatic process where we are today. Yes we should keep that. And military option. Exactly where it is. We have assured the president that are. Assets and force posture remained the same we are prepared to exercise. Any option that he would. Selective. But at the same time you ask if I was comfortable with the process as it is now yes. That was always an objective of the president. A diplomatic solution and resolution. So I think it's wise to let that process play out not remember. The resolution when the president made a decision he -- in the resolution the congress was about chemical weapons. And the so the diplomatic process to track -- -- I think is -- responsible. Wise approach. But it wasn't credible force of threat that there's got to store where we are and we will continue to. Have that. That's that credible. Option available to us that there -- prepared. That is -- let me ask your concern -- the alleged -- Even all the attributes are going on about the security procedures that seems to have been -- -- instances where. He could have -- -- -- just last month Rhode Island police -- -- that he -- he called and he said he was hearing paranoid voices. How concerned are you that the -- Probably did not act on it or -- you -- if you don't want the navy did. And that particular instance and if I could ask your question on injured but you've had several -- our conversations where it she's in danger. There's been some conversations and talk about power supplies talking to supply of other US military equipment and -- decisions you made about. You know stopping her -- the delivery of the next batch of Apache helicopters and. -- -- on Egypt a question no final decision has been made. On the the question regarding the Rhode Island incident. With this individual who we are reviewing all that I'm aware of those reports I haven't seen the specifics but. We won't almost forget -- It's kind of -- this specifics this will be part of of the mix here. What should have been done that wasn't done and should have been more done. How could we have. Brought those kind of reports into the food process so and so I think that that'll -- all part of -- and certainly. Maybe explain the water courses. Was granted secret security firms in the first place despite. A police record. And that they explained to you or either you why he was allowed to keep that secret security clearance displayed. Growing number. Reasons. Quick answer is no. I haven't seen all of -- I will continue to see more of it. You've asked some very basic relevant questions which school obviously again be part of all the review the -- looking at decision. They're going back into the history of at all so intelligent beings in the. It's there is dependent -- going to take charge of arming the Syrian rebels or is that option now postponed. Because of this agreement to remove. Serious chemical weapons and can you just give us both of you both of -- gives -- what are the factors involved if you look at that option. Well them. The president -- basis said that he is. Looking at all options. The Pentagon has not to presently. Directly involved me of those. Lethal. Weapons activities. So the president continues to look at different options. Well just before making that change can be surprised if that's well those discussions are ongoing and and of course as mentioned previously we have and in -- room. Options under development that that could expand their support to the -- -- position but no decision has been taken at this point. Mr. secretary the department -- lost people in three major gun violence incidents -- of course. Fort Hood and yes my question to to -- is. Is that good enough at this point is that enough why can't. -- -- They get involved. In the public -- the department. Both of you gentlemen the US military. And get involved in the public debate in this country without violence not -- -- -- you say. You're taking. You can lose your support the president's position. He supports it and -- violence and registration. Beautiful Clinton talked about it and specifically then. Both here here both of you -- About gun violence in this country and what you. Now that you've lost so many people military families or risk what do you needs to -- them. Well -- -- with. Gun violence is an issue. And it is tragic. And I think. Every American who has witnessed this over the years and -- general and I have expressed. Our sense about it this morning. Our our thoughts and prayers and heart goes out to everyone who was a victim of it. Gun violence -- it is. A violation of the law. And so. If there's no question it's it's not a matter of trying to defend it. Or choose it. As to our position here. General Dempsey can speak for himself. But my role as secretary defense. I'm not involved in domestic policy issues. That's not my role is not my responsibility. Now I couldn't agree more mr. secretary. You know the it's very difficult to separate the views of citizens and -- from chairman densities try not to do that. And it is not my rose to chairman to become involved in domestic political issues. Question though it against your -- And no disrespect. You -- people it's a risk to military this -- But -- Guinness. Generally you're gonna stay out of the public debate on this question and the debate over the president's. Policies and views on this. Well again I would say my Rome. Is not -- policymakers. When I'm called to congress. I answered questions. -- -- security in this country in the aspects of certain responsibilities. I don't engage in domestic policy debates so it's not my it's not my report. Its predecessors were very critical last night at the administration's policy. Syria and Secretary Gates weighed in saying that it's if if there were military action taken over a couple of days this would. For a fire onto a situation he said. Launching scud missiles -- a couple of days is not a strategy. Secretary Panetta was equally. Sales of medical. How do you respond to that do you agree with them. In general Dempsey. Didn't budget cuts have anything to do with the attack in the yard on Monday -- A few years back they took off mental health questions on the security clearance -- -- in order to. PT SD. Do you think that mental health question should be. Return to -- security interviews because they are relevant do you think you're in a difficult position having. -- I have the greatest respect for secretaries. Engaged. They obviously have every right to their opinions. On -- on every issue. And if they feel it appropriate they every right to express those miscues. Obviously I don't agree. With. They're perspectives. And I. Again understand what they're saying. But. -- as -- said a number of times last two weeks on Capitol Hill. I was part of the decision. And the process. That that led up to the president's decision I support those decisions. In life if it -- hopeful for them away and -- like this like I said today. Our. Individual's. Private citizens. And they have every right to express themselves -- they feel they need do or want to. I'm they -- categorically. Assure you that. Based on testimony that -- -- actually is giving as we're sitting here and that. -- the budget issue did not -- Degrade the security at the navy yard and in January contribute to this. As for -- questions about mental health on security clearance forms I actually was one of those with Pete Correll and others who believed. That that men and women should have the opportunity to overcome there. They're meant so disorders or their mental challenges are -- -- clinical health challenges. And shouldn't be stigma -- and so. I still remain in that camp that. A man or woman should have the ability to with treatment to overcome them and then to have fruitful life and gain employment including says the military. This particular individual course. It wasn't a simple matter and I don't know -- the investigation will determine -- he he committed murder. And I'm not sure that any particular question or lack of question on a security clearance would probably have revealed that. -- -- When Aaron Alexis. We look at his record since 2004 against Seattle. Does anything -- voted either you. And he red flags it's it's so when should have caught this -- -- -- import from military servers they're not have received security clearance. Or is it did he -- below the radar was arrested and charged. He apparently had a psychotic episode last month in Newport. But no doctor ever charged him to be mentally ill. What's your sense of it -- just below the radio. Well obviously. There were a lot of red flags as you noted. Why they didn't get picked up. Why they didn't get incorporated into the clear -- process what he was doing. Those overall. Legitimate questions it. We're going to be dealing with how do we fix it. -- -- our that that I know that's again part of after complications but. What I understand though it was passed off. Two different officials. -- go beyond that without any more facts I wanna do that but obviously. We -- you go back and in hindsight and look at all this. There were some red flags of course -- -- and should we have picked them up why didn't we how could we have almost questions need to be answered. Just I think this will be scrutinized a great deal -- until I I understand. You know the outcome in the investigation I can't render judgment about whether it was a red flag or just something that flew -- during -- -- You've been listening to a briefing by secretary of defense -- Cagle and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Martin Dempsey. General Martin Dempsey talking about Monday's shooting Rampage and the investigation and they look at security clearance. Regulations right now. In the military and the US government let's bring in Louis Martinez at the Pentagon. To talk to us and summarize a little bit of what was said curing this briefing not a lot of news -- -- certainly looking into. New procedures for security clearance and perhaps. Having those -- has come under review more frequently so they can -- catch any red flags but overall what did you make of the briefing. Well as very interesting -- I hate opening just be up -- in acknowledging that there were mistakes made. -- and saying that we have to look for gaps in knowledge. We have to see what what basically what went wrong here. If anything was found Iran we're gonna find it -- -- if any mistakes and you need to be changed or taking -- to be changed will make those changes. He's being very proactive -- knowledge -- that. Not everything was up to snuff in this case and that potentially some changes need to be made him particularly. And that clear answer me that. He heard a lot of questions that taken appear at this briefing. That one interesting point was that they -- actually recently removed. Mental health questions from the security clearance forms because they don't -- -- ties people with post traumatic stress disorder and they were asked. Point blank was -- a good move given that perhaps that would have caught. Aaron a Lexus. In his review what did you make of the general's response. But what the general response is actually spot on I mean he said that he's not sure whether any -- Type of question -- -- questionnaire like that it could have prevented this because he said. That -- committed murder. And he says there's he doesn't think there's any way of knowing whether an individual commit murder in the future if they can be identified by just a random question. -- question. -- like that we have learned something new this morning about Alexis as weapons purchase what can you tell us. Well we know that who -- information remember when there is talk about that they are fifteen. Which has -- been discounted by that's an assault rifle which examined discounted by the FBI. We learned that he had purchased that -- -- a shotgun. The -- -- -- about twenty miles south of Washington in Virginia. Before he actually purchased that weapon he. Try Q he tried out of -- it is determined yes and they are fifteen at -- shooting range he tried to purchase and was told that because he was from out of state. He couldn't actually purchase it so that point -- decided to purchase a shotgun. It's believed that what he did was he -- that shotgun in a bad when you will swiped into that building one and suddenly the shootings took place. Went up into a bathroom. And an upper floor where he assemble the weapon and then went into the nature and that overlooked the food court there in this building. And started firing -- randomly to personnel in the building. So there's been talk about gun control. Here -- of one factor where gun control laws actually prevented him from purchasing. An assault rifle but at the same time he was able to purchase another weapon which cause cause such deadly effects on -- We're going back to the issue of security clearance and the military general Dempsey was asked directly did budget issues lead to -- any kind of -- in. The security clearances at -- -- -- and -- well. He said now and then that's very similar to what we heard from admiral greener in earlier. -- -- when we talked about. And a -- -- -- they're easy chief of naval operations talking at a budgets extradition hearing on Capitol Hill. He and you reference this IG report which said that there had been some vulnerabilities because. Cost cutting -- cost controls I think is a term -- -- in -- report. But the -- said listen this hadn't this report had nothing to do -- these costs will vulnerabilities have nothing to do with either syquest ration or budgetary cuts. And that he said we don't cut corners when it comes to security for our personnel it's something that we take very seriously. He said obviously there's some shortfalls there elicit their but he doesn't think that those shortfalls or what precipitated. Monday's incident so you're Dempsey echoing exactly what -- -- it is well on his Capitol Hill. -- and and while we're talking about all of this actually the live picture of outside the navy yards. -- -- and the year. Perhaps getting word that in another news conference or briefing of some sort will take place outside there today. -- showing up to work today is an essential personnel a -- of people started to head back to work. Not saying it's right -- it's still a crime scene so essential personnel only have been told or instructed to should show up front for work at the election navy yard. Remember it's 151000. People -- work there millet both military and civilians. And so there you've been told to either work from home telecommute. But for the most part only essential personnel being told to go to work. Because it's an active crime scene you've got law enforcement that still trying to retreat precisely when it happened on Monday. For this tragic series of events what are we heard from Aaron Alexis his family -- spoken publicly at this point when they sat. You know the -- over his ever since the the shootings there -- been -- made by reporters with the family know the FBI has contacted the family. They painted a portrait of a man who had not been in touch with his family members for several years. Remember he was from the Brooklyn area in new York and then ended up moving down to Fort Worth where he worked. Who as an army reservists as and also -- context there with them any friends that tight community hearing and that city. But they contacted the families you get a different portrait of who he really is one family member since pointing out. Very early on that they said that he suffered from PT SD. But not out of combat. But because of what he supposedly experienced during 9/11. We're hearing -- -- when he supposedly went and helped out with the recovery efforts there. -- his stepfather was contacted by British newspaper and he said they -- -- more details where he said. That what -- was specifically talking about was that. Alexis was emerging from a subway station. And they're down in balloon lower battery area of new York and came up stairwell to experienced actual collapse of the World Trade Center towers. It's unclear I mean if that's actually based on fact or hearsay. From this -- stepfather but. That's kind of what the families putting out there we understand that the -- is also really has issued some kind of release an -- released two press up in New York. All right interesting updates. And about -- -- sides -- -- story he's easily Martinez the Pentagon thank you so much for joining us. And you can of course get a complete recap right here on for now anti Hernandez in New York with his ABC news digital special reports. This has been a special report from ABC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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