The Iranian Citizen and the Security Clearance – The Challenges of Dual Citizenship

Security Clearance

U.S. Navy photo

We all know that having dual citizenship and applying for a security clearance are not a compatible combination and raises valid security concerns under the Foreign Preference guideline. Several recent news stories have broken that involved naturalized U.S. citizens who were current or former security clearance holders and were arrested for conducting espionage. This shows the difficulty agencies face in trying to ensure adjudicative processes and guidelines are followed ensuring fair treatment for all regardless of your place of birth versus digging deeper or focusing more attention on those individuals who currently hold or previously held other citizenships.

The Iranian Citizen and the Security Clearance

Take this case for example: Back in February 2016 James Baker (AKA- Majid Karimi), a Navy civilian electrical engineer was arrested by the FBI and charged with false statements, identity document fraud and social security fraud. In reading the indictment details, it is absolutely astounding that this Iranian-born government employee working for Naval Sea Systems Command got away with so much over such an extensive period of time. His conduct over 30 years pretty much falls into almost every adjudicative guideline as disqualifying conduct for a security clearance holder: allegiance-check; foreign influence-check; foreign preference-check; criminal conduct-check; financial concerns-check; personal conduct (dishonesty)-check.

The enormity of the lies and falsification that occurred when he filled out the SF-86 for his clearance is mind-boggling, and even more alarming is the fact that none of it was uncovered in the background investigation, or if it was it was somehow mitigated by Navy personnel and he was granted a clearance, not just once, but twice. Not much ink was spilled on the security clearance aspect in this case, however, it is pretty obvious that the ball was dropped somewhere along the line, probably during both the investigative and adjudicative process.

Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.