Security Clearance Denial

Affair with Chinese National Leads to Clearance Denial

As most of us clearance holders know, there are certain behaviors and situations to stay clear of lest we find ourselves called on the carpet and have our access eligibility yanked. Yet, despite getting an initial briefing and an annual refresher, some still play Russian Roulette and hope they aren’t caught. Here is a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) case that makes you scratch your head and ask “what the heck was he thinking?”

A contractor, who previously served in the Air Force with TS/SCI access, was picked up on a cleared federal contract. In 2012 he self-reported contact with a Chinese foreign national, claiming he met her at a shopping mall. She informed him at that time she was married and was not interested in anything more than being friends. There were no real concerns at this point, so his FSO told him to provide further updates if the relationship developed into anything more. A few months later the relationship became intimate, but the contractor delayed reporting it until several months later. Naturally, the FSO asked the contractor for more information about the woman, her husband, and who he worked for.

In what shouldn’t have come as a surprise, it was discovered the woman’s husband worked for the Chinese military, possibly in intelligence. The contractor was told to cease and desist with any further contact or lose his clearance. He acknowledged the order and chose to end the relationship, signing a security agreement stating he would have no further contact.

Flash forward a few years later; the contractor is undergoing a polygraph for a new job after filling out an updated SF-86 in which he disclosed the above information. Want to guess what is coming next? Yup, you got it! During the polygraph he disclosed that he had continued his contact with her through email, even despite his current girlfriend’s protestations, and saw the Chinese national in person before she returned to China. We have a few issues here: foreign influence, personal conduct (dishonesty and failure to follow rules); and sexual behavior. The judge in this case mitigated the foreign influence and sexual behavior issues because the contractor stopped all contact with her two years ago. However, he was nailed for the personal conduct because he only admitted to the conduct when confronted with it during the polygraph.