NORFOLK -- The suspect in Monday night's shooting at Naval Station Norfolk was not authorized to access the base.
The suspect used a TWIC Card (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) to access the base, which is an acceptable form of identification. However, Naval Station Norfolk commanding officer Capt. Robert Clark says the suspect "did not have authorization to be on my base."
The suspect accessed the base in a 2002 Freightliner truck, drove close to Pier 1 where USS Mahan was docked, parked the vehicle and walked the rest of the way.
Clark says an investigation is underway to determine if any security procedures were violated in letting the suspect on the base. Clark says he will take immediate and appropriate action if he finds that procedures were violated.
A 2009 directive issued by the Under Secretary of Defense authorized the use of TWIC cards to access base as long as they're accompanied by a documents proving the cardhold has a reason to be on base.
The suspect in Monday's shooting had a valid TWIC card but was not authorized to be on base.
A 2011 investigation by the Government Accountability Office found major flaws in the internal controls used to ensure TWIC cards are secure.
The report came after an investigation where two undercover GAO workers were able to access sensitive areas of ports using fake TWIC cards.
The report also found that "[the Department of Homeland Security] has not adequately addressed the effectiveness of the TWIC program, nor has DHS demonstrated that the current TWIC program enhances port and facility security better than what we've had in the past."
That report and subsequent findings has led members of Congress to question the program's effectiveness and, in some cases, call for its end.
More recently, Congress has criticized the program because the US Coast Guard has not been able to establish rules governing devices used to scan TWIC cards.
The only way to access the biometric data on the card--used to verify its authenticity, among other things--is to scan it.
Despite the problems and criticism, the Pentagon has continued to allow TWIC cards to be used to access military bases.
A defense official defended the TWIC card in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"DOD has a huge transportation requirement and the TWIC provides us with a secure identification card for those persons in the transportation industry who aren't considered a Federal/DOD Government employee," the official said.
The official also said the TWIC card is secure because a worker's biometric data allows for a positive link between the card and the individual.
That link can only be checked, though, if it is scanned; a technology the DOD is currently not able to do.
The Department of the Army issued a directive in December 2012 ordering that TWIC cards could no longer be used to access the Electronic Transportation Acquisition.
In the order, the Army said the TWIC card didn't meet DOD security requirements.