In an interesting twist of “affairs of the heart”, an NCIS Special Agent with a TS/SCI security clearance failed to heed U.S. Intelligence and State Department warnings about having a relationship with a potential terrorist and has now found herself in a bit of hot water. In a story that broke last month, Special Agent Leatrice Malika DeBruhl-Daniels was arrested and now faces federal obstruction of justice charges for giving classified information to her lover, whom she knew was under investigation for suspected terrorist activities. Her clearance had already been suspended.

This would be an interesting case for a clearance adjudicator because it involves concerns under Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States, which is used only in the rarest of instances. Here are the probable concerns for this particular case:

  • Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States
  • Guideline B: Foreign Influence
  • Guideline D: Sexual Behavior
  • Guideline E: Personal Conduct
  • Guideline J: Criminal Conduct
  • Guideline K: Handling Protected Information

In addition to issues of allegiance to the United States, issues are foreign influence are clearly at play, with DeBruhl-Daniels allegedly accepting a variety of gifts from the alleged Syrian terrorist – including borrowing $1,400 for a trip to Greece (which she claims to have paid back in alcohol – maybe the alcohol consumption adjudicative guideline should also apply?)

Her conduct professionally and personally made her susceptible to blackmail, coercion, and manipulation. In her role as a special agent, choosing the national security of the U.S. over her personal relationship should have been a no-brainer. If even a quarter of the details laid out in the news story are true then it is easy to conclude she has thrown away a promising nine year career…and for what? She was entrusted with the highest level security clearance and access to highly sensitive classified information.  This is an easy decision for the criminal prosecutor, as well as for the clearance adjudicator.

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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.