A security clearance may be revoked at any time. There are 13 guidelines that are common to all agencies of the federal government that are used to determine eligibility for a clearance and to determine if an existing clearance ought to be revoked. There is an appeals process which varies with the employment status of the individual.

The Defense Security Service has this to say about the process of using the 13 Adjudication Guidelines:

The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables known as the whole-person concept. All available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, is considered in reaching a clearance determination.

Each Guideline is comprised of three parts: 1) the Concern, 2) Potentially Disqualifying Conditions, and, 3) Mitigating Factors.

1)       The Concern is a simple statement that sets forth the concerns the security community has about each Adjudicative Guideline.

2)       The Potentially Disqualifying Conditions are conditions that, if present in the applicant’s life, may potentially disqualify him or her for eligibility or access.

3)       The Mitigating Factors are used by adjudicators to balance against the Potentially Disqualifying Conditions. The Mitigating Factors consist of conditions that, if present in the applicant’s life, may cancel or lessen the severity of the Potentially Disqualifying Conditions.

One of the best ways to understand the guidelines for revoking a security clearance is to understand the adjudicative criteria.

  • Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States
    Belonging to a terror group, advocating the unconstitutional overthrow of the government, associating or sympathizing with terrorists, terror groups or those seeking the overthrow of the government.
  • Guideline B: Foreign influence
    Association with foreign citizens, business interest in foreign countries, potential that the individual could be coerced for some reason by a foreign government.
  • Guideline C: Foreign preference
    Dual citizenship, service in a foreign military, accepting benefits such as scholarships or retirement benefits from a foreign country.
  • Guideline D: Sexual behavior
    Criminal sexual behavior, sex addiction, sexual behavior that suggests a “lack of discretion or judgment.”
  • Guideline E: Personal conduct
    Refusing to cooperate with the clearance investigation, refusing to complete requested paperwork, refusing testing. Associating with known criminals, adverse reports from past employers, neighbors or friends. Providing false information or concealing information from investigators.
  • Guideline F: Financial considerations
    Pattern of not meeting financial obligations. White collar crime. Unexplained wealth.
  • Guideline G: Alcohol consumption
    Alcohol-related incidents at work or away from work. Medical diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence. Continued alcohol use after a rehab program.
  • Guideline H: Drug involvement
    Use of illegal drugs. Drug-related incidents at work or away from work. Medical diagnosis of drug abuse or dependence. Continued drug use after a rehab program.
  • Guideline I: Emotional, mental, and personality disorders
    “A condition or treatment that may indicate a defect in judgment, reliability, or stability.” Failure to follow prescribed treatments, including taking prescription medications. “A pattern of high-risk, irresponsible, aggressive, anti-social or emotionally unstable behavior.”
  • Guideline J: Criminal conduct
    Allegations or admissions of criminal conduct with or without charges being pressed. Conviction for a serious crime or multiple lesser crimes.
  • Guideline K: Security violations
    “Unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” Deliberate security violations. Multiple violations. Negligence.
  • Guideline L: Outside activities
    “Any service, whether compensated, volunteer, or employment with a foreign country, any foreign national, a representative of any foreign interest and any foreign, domestic, or international organization or person engaged in analysis, discussion, or publication of material on intelligence, defense, foreign affairs, or protected technology.”
  • Guideline M: Misuse of information technology systems
    Illegal or unauthorized access to a computer system. Unauthorized actions to alter, restrict or deny access to systems. Unauthorized removal of software or hardware from systems, or adding unauthorized software or hardware to systems.

The process is governed by two executive orders. Executive Order 12968 and Executive Order 10865 establish the initial framework for security clearance investigations and revocations.

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Charles Simmins brings thirty years of accounting and management experience to his coverage of the news. An upstate New Yorker, he is a freelance journalist, former volunteer firefighter and EMT, and is owned by a wife and four cats.