One thing is certain about this week’s Navy Yard shootings: They will lead to a lot of recommendations. No fewer than five panels and review boards have been announced by the Executive to look at everything from physical security to the granting of security clearances.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced two additional reviews on Wednesday, and will also establish an independent panel to assess. It is easy to be cynical about such panels: many produce reports that are unreadable, or simply unread. But some have a huge impact. The 9/11 Commission produced a gripping tale that became a best seller. It had a huge impact on efforts to reshape the government and protect civil liberties during the war on terror.
One thing these panels might want to examine: whether the recommendations of previous panels have been implemented properly.
In January, 2010 the Department of Defense’s Independent Review Related to Fort Hood issued 79 recommendations after a shooting rampage by Nidal Hassan shooting left 13 dead in 2009. The Pentagon says it has put into effect 65 of those proposals, including recommendation number 2.2: “evaluate background check policies and issue appropriate updates.” That’s a broad recommendation, but if properly implemented, it could well have addressed some of the issues reporters and experts have been discussing this week. Did the Pentagon do what it says it did, and despite those efforts Aaron Alexis got into the Navy Yard? Or did officials put a check mark next to this and other recommendations, without following through?