A Security Clearance Isn't an Unalienable Right
This week a budget analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency filed a lawsuit against the NGA, seeking reinstatement of his Top Secret/SCI security clearance, it having been revoked after his union with an Islamic women with a number of affiliations with groups of “non-United States origin.” In the period between Mahmoud M. Hegab’s security clearance investigation and his arrival to work with NGA, he had married Bushra Nusairat,a Fairfax citizen and U.S. resident, and a graduate of an Islamic school and current employee of Islamic Relief USA…
Nearly a year after starting his job with the NGA, Hegab received noticed that his security clearance had been revoked, reports Secrecy News, and he was placed on unpaid administrative leave. Despite appeals, NGA has held to its decision, stating:
“The information provided does not mitigate your spouse’s current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin and/or the advocacy of or involvement in foreign political issues. This concern elevates the potential for conflicts of interest between your obligation to protect sensitive or classified United States information and technology and your desire to help a foreign person, group, or country by providing that information.”
We’ve talked a lot at ClearanceJobs about “foreign entanglements” and the issues concerning allegiance or affiliation with a foreign country. Not a cut and dry issue, it’s often difficult to speculate a specific “amount” of foreign influence which may cause issues, and depends extensively on the work of investigators digging into financial and personal ties that may conflict with U.S. interests. It’s also not as simple as simply not affiliating with terrorist organizations – that seems like a no brainer. An issue is whether or not, when put in a position to “choose” between your allegiance to the United States and your “entanglement,” which would you choose?
No one has a “right” to a security clearance. Hasad’s lawsuit argues that he has lost a property interest by not being able to maintain his current job, as well as prejudice in future employment. The lawsuit claims that his Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Association have been violated by losing his security clearance based solely on the religion and associations of his wife.
The issue isn’t just one of Islamic association – close relationships or financial ties with any foreign country could potentially cause security clearance revocation or denial (read potentially: the issue is whether or not one can mitigate the association). But the difficulty for individuals with close ties to Islamic countries in being able to obtain security clearances has been brought up as a key barrier keeping qualified linguists and area subject-matter-experts from working in the government.