WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama called the Army secretary to express concerns over arrests and the discovery of problems with background checks at an Army day care center, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The call at 10 p.m. Tuesday to Army Secretary John McHugh comes against the backdrop of last week’s massacre of young children at a school in Newtown, Conn.
Officials spoke about the call on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss Obama’s private conversation. They declined to provide details of the call.
Obama has been outspoken in his demands for a quick government reaction to the Newtown shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. He visited the Connecticut town Sunday to offer condolences to parents and the community.
The Army had no immediate comment on the president’s call.
The Pentagon is reviewing hiring procedures at military day care centers, schools, youth centers and other facilities where children are present, after revelations that some employees at the Fort Myer, Va., day care center had criminal records. Pentagon leaders were angry that it took months for the Army to disclose the problems to top officials and the public.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the military-wide review Tuesday shortly after the Army disclosed problems with security background checks of workers at Fort Myer. Pentagon press secretary George Little said department leaders were surprised to hear of the problems and that “clearly this information did not get reported up the chain of command as quickly as we think it should have.”
Little said Wednesday that officials also are questioning why it took three months for the Army to inform Panetta about arrests and problems with background checks at the day care center. Two people were arrested in September on multiple charges of assault against children at the center.
Little also said reports that parents of children at the center weren’t told about the problems indicating that there may have been a serious breakdown in communications.
“We need to do everything we can wherever our children are entrusted to the care of DOD-employed personnel to insure we have the right personnel with the right background taking care of them,” said Little. “We want to insure that there’s consistency in the standards and policies and practices in hiring wherever military youth are involved.”
The actions stem from the Sept. 26 arrests of two Army employees. One was charged with five counts of assault and the second was charged with four counts of assault.
But the problems at Fort Myer apparently went much deeper. Indications are that at least 30 workers at the facility have histories that call into question their suitability to care for children, according to two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation into worker backgrounds at Fort Myer has not been completed.
After the Fort Myer arrests, the Army replaced the day care center’s management team and found what the Army called “derogatory information” in the background of an unspecified number of other employees there. Army officials did not reveal the information, and officials said it’s not clear if the background checks were not done, were not sufficient or simply were not used appropriately in screening personnel.
Col. Fern Sumpter, the Fort Myer commander, said the day care center was closed “out of an abundance of caution” and the children moved to a separate day care center at Fort Myer. A Fort Myer spokeswoman, Mary Ann Hodges, said the center was closed on Dec. 13.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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