Multiple Issues and Your Security Clearance – DOHA Hearing
An old saying goes “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Sometimes the deception is just the icing on the cake. Adjudicative guidelines E, Personal Conduct; H, Criminal Conduct; and J, Drug Involvement, cover an array of conduct, behavior and actions that could reflect negatively on an individual’s ability to protect classified information. Taken individually, any of these issues could result in a clearance denial or revocation. Seldom does the Personal Conduct issue stand alone, but on this occasion, I believe it does.
Criminal Conduct, Drug Involvement and Personal Conduct – Case No. 14-01443
Applicant is a 50-year-old employee of a U.S. defense contractor. Her specific job title and duties were not cited. Applicant submitted an electronic Questionnaire for Security Processing (eQIP) in October 2013. Following completion of the background investigation, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) to deny Applicant eligibility based on her history of criminal conduct, drug involvement and deliberate falsification of material facts. Applicant reported on her eQIP that she had not been involved with law enforcement officials during the preceding seven years; she had not been involved in the use of illegal substances in the preceding seven years; she had not undergone treatment for illegal drug use; she had been employed by her current employer since 2004; and provided an address for her residence from 2004 to 2009.
The background investigation, including her personal interview, revealed extensive reasons for DoD to issue the SOR. Applicant had been arrested 29 times from 1991 to August 2009 including charges of criminal damage to property, possession of narcotic controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, obstructing justice, criminal trespass, receiving/possessing/selling a stolen vehicle, felony violation of probation, failure to appear, and selling liquor to a minor. As a result of these arrests and convictions, Applicant served four different periods in prison or jail. Applicant used illegal substances, including crack cocaine, between 1991 and December 2009. Applicant went to treatment centers on eight occasions. Applicant was homeless from 2004 to 2009. Applicant was employed with her current company since 2009. Applicant admitted that she provided false information on her eQIP and during her personal interview in order to keep her current employment.
Clean, Sober and a Liar
Applicant answered the SOR in August 2014 and asked for a personal appearance before a Department of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) Administrative Judge (AJ). Applicant admitted to all allegations cited in the SOR. She provided seven favorable character letters and two witnesses appeared at the hearing to speak on her behalf. All provided favorable statements and some reported she has been clean and sober since 2009.
The AJ decided that Applicant’s history, her statement and the testimony of her references did not mitigate her extensive criminal conduct, drug involvement and deliberate falsification of material facts on her eQIP, as well as false statements made to the investigator in November 2013. The AJ also cited the DoD Directive which states “any doubt concerning personnel being considered for access to classified information will be resolved in favor of the national security.” Applicant appealed the decision. In April 2015, the DOHA Appeals Board affirmed the decision to deny the clearance eligibility. The Board agreed with the AJ citing that the Applicant had not provided evidence of mitigating conditions of the issues and the AJ’s decision was not arbitrary or contrary to law.
I completely agree with the AJ and Appeals Board in this case. The DoD had strong evidence of an extensive history of both criminal conduct and drug involvement, including continued use after multiple rehabilitation efforts, in addition to the deliberate falsification of material facts on Applicant’s eQIP and during her personal interview. Any of these issues could stand alone to substantiate the denial of her clearance eligibility. Although one could argue that approximately four years had passed between her last drug involvement and the date of her eQIP, her falsification of information on the eQIP and continued falsification during her personal interview raise questions regarding her reliability and trustworthiness.