When is a job about more than the job? When you have a security clearance or you’re in the military.
Many people have heard the phrase ‘held to a higher standard’ used in conjunction with men and women in uniform. It’s not just a reference to a higher moral character or sense of patriotism, its actual military doctrine and protocol, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice and security clearance requirements. The military is just about the only employer these days who will fire you or demote you for having an affair, for instance. Why? Because the prohibition is outlined in UCMJ.
With such clear guidelines known by anyone in uniform, it’s hard to believe stories like this still exist. Last week the story broke of a Navy Commander who had an affair with a 23-year-old he met on a dating site. After the woman told him she was pregnant, the navy officer allegedly faked his own death via email messages. The officer had emails sent which implied an incident had occurred in the scope of his “special operations” military duties and he’d died.
It sounds like a soap opera, but appears to be depressingly real. A Navy press release noted that Ward had been relieved of command due to “lack of confidence” and “allegations of personal misconduct.”
The reality is most security clearance issues are significantly less obvious than this. Will a one-time affair that you disclose to your spouse result in clearance denial? Hardly, and it’s not likely to even come up in the course of an investigation. But incidents such as the one above highlight the need for standards of personal integrity in positions of public trust, especially at the highest clearance levels.
If you’re willing to create a web of lies and pretend to be dead to avoid your problems, what else would you be willing to do? Now, if only all clearance investigations involved incidents this easy to assess.