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Ayotte Seeks Answers From Secretary Mabus on Aaron Alexis' Discharge from Navy

Sep 19, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is asking Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to explain the circumstances surrounding Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis' discharge from the Navy in 2011. In a letter sent today to Secretary Mabus, Ayotte asked why Alexis was honorably discharged, despite media reports that the Navy had originally pursued a general discharge.

"Had Alexis received a general discharge, future employers would have been more likely to give his background extra scrutiny," Ayotte wrote. "This additional scrutiny may have helped potential employers identify Alexis' reported arrests in three states and better informed their hiring decisions."

AYOTTE LETTER TO SECRETARY MABUS:

September 19, 2013

The Honorable Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC, 20350-1000

Dear Secretary Mabus:

Like all Americans, I was deeply saddened by the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. I believe we owe the victims' families a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding these crimes, and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I write to inquire about the Navy's decision to grant an honorable discharge to Aaron Alexis.

According to a September 17, 2013, Washington Post article, the Navy originally pursued a general discharge of Aaron Alexis due to a "pattern of misconduct," but eventually granted an honorable discharge. In light of the September 16 Department of Defense Inspector General report, I am concerned that the Navy may have missed opportunities to prevent this tragedy well before it happened.

According to the article, Alexis had a series of conduct-related issues with military and civilian authorities - including insubordination, disorderly conduct and unauthorized absence from work. I ask that you provide a list of Alexis' offenses and the circumstances under which he was administratively punished prior to his discharge. Additionally, I request confirmation about whether the Navy originally sought a general discharge of Alexis and the grounds for that action, and an explanation as to why the Navy granted an honorable discharge in 2011.

Had Alexis received a general discharge, future employers would have been more likely to give his background extra scrutiny. This additional scrutiny may have helped potential employers identify Alexis' reported arrests in three states and better informed their hiring decisions.

With this in mind, I respectfully request answers to the following questions: Under existing Navy hiring and contracting procedures, is a potential contractor or Navy civilian employee's discharge status taken into account? If a potential contractor or Navy civilian employee has received a general or other than honorable discharge-or a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge from a court martial-what additional scrutiny or steps does this trigger under current procedures? How does the Navy share discharge characterization determinations with contractors, federal agencies, and law enforcement?

Also, I ask that you please keep me informed of any changes the Navy makes to installation security procedures as a result of Monday's tragedy. I appreciate your prompt response to these requests and your ongoing efforts to ensure our sailors and civilian personnel are properly protected. I look forward to hearing from you.

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