Over the past year we’ve been bringing you a (typically) weekly dose of some of the strange, obscure, or particularly relevant or informative security clearance denials cases that came up for DoD security clearance applicants and which were published through the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals website. If there was one takeaway from the cases we unpacked over the past year, it’s that you’d best be careful of the company you keep if you’d like to get or keep a security clearance.
What always makes these cases so relevant is that they represent those individuals who chose to appeal their denials – which makes this a unique subset out of the gate. Not only did someone have a sugar daddy, someone else lied about their brother, and another had a best friend in Pakistan – they all took the time to appear their initial Statement of Reasons.
The clearance holder in question was a 54-year old widowed software engineer. He was actually able to mitigate the financial issues related to the SOR, but he was unable to mitigate the Personal Conduct issues related to given thousands of dollars to women he had met at gentleman’s clubs. This wasn’t a matter of someone simply spending money he had to entertain women, but cashing out his 401(k), racking up credit card debt, and selling investments in order to give money to women.
The applicant in question served in the military for nine years. His security clearance concerns actually began when he accepted an OCONUS contracting job after leaving the military – and left his then-girlfriend to make his car and house payments while he was overseas. Over the course of two years, the girlfriend withdrew money from the applicant’s accounts when the payments were due – but never actually paid them. The applicant was able to show that despite having $150,000 in delinquent accounts, he was taking steps to pay them and acted immediately once he realized his (we hope ex) girlfriend wasn’t making the payments.
One DOHA case outlined an individual who had five siblings – one of whom was in prison and who the applicant conveniently left off of the SF-86. With so many siblings, the applicant may have assumed the government may lose track. They didn’t. In a subsequent personal subject interview, the applicant was asked specifically about the sibling in prison and the applicant still denied his existence. This is a rare case of someone who chose a lie, and stuck with it. Many applicants will fail to list derogatory information on the SF-86 but use the personal subject interview to come clean. This strategy doesn’t always work – but it’s certainly better than carrying on with a lie.
As far as Pakistan goes, two individuals with Pakistani origins and family members successfully obtained security clearances after appeal in 2020. The one who didn’t had a variety of issues to overcome, including being ‘best friends with a Pakistani colonel,’ The applicant himself had served in the Pakistani army and the kicker – still received a pension from the Pakistani government. Foreign influence includes financial and family ties – have both and you’re unlikely to be able to obtain a security clearance, regardless of the country.
A recent DoD security clearance appeal case highlights how a polygraph isn’t necessarily a harbinger of trustworthiness. The applicant had taken – and passed – four security clearance polygraphs over the course of a career. Unfortunately, he’d also been fired nine times, had 12 motor vehicle incidents, and one security violation involving taking home a Secret classified document.