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Thursday, December 8, 2016

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Pentagon was reviewing security at U.S. bases worldwide Wednesday, after a defense contractor gunned down 12 people in Washington, as investigators worked to uncover the shooter’s motive.

U.S. military officials, who announced the security review on Tuesday, were struggling to answer how and why 34-year-old Aaron Alexis — a former sailor with a history of disciplinary problems and brushes with the law — had been granted a security clearance.

Alexis opened fire Monday at the tightly guarded Washington Navy Yard, where he had a valid entry pass, according to the FBI. He eventually died in a shoot-out with police at the giant compound.

With lawmakers questioning the vetting of contractors, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “intends to order a review of physical security and access at all DoD (Department of Defense) installations worldwide,” a senior Pentagon official said.

The White House said President Barack Obama also ordered a review into security standards for contractors at federal agencies.

Monday’s mass shooting — which sparked a fresh call from Obama for Congress to act on gun law reform — left federal authorities acknowledging that their probe had much to uncover.

“As we have moved from a crisis stage to the investigation stage of this case, our focus and efforts are going to be on the questions we all have,” said U.S. federal prosecutor Ronald Machen.

“What caused this individual to kill so many innocent men and women? How did he carry out and plan this attack? How did he get access to the weapons?”

Lawmakers planned to raise security concerns over the shooting at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, with top commanders — including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus — due to appear.

Alexis, a former naval reservist hired as an IT subcontractor for computer giant Hewlett-Packard, entered the base Monday with a legally purchased shotgun, officials confirmed, dispelling earlier reports that he had been armed with an assault rifle.

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