Attempt to Beat Polygraph Results in Security Clearance Denial

Counterintelligence polygraphs are routinely scheduled for Top Secret/SCI security clearance holders in positions with access to classified intelligence information. In a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) case, the applicant was initially denied continued eligibility for his clearance because of trying to beat the polygraph results, using breathing techniques to throw off control question baseline readings. Here are the highlights of the DOHA appeal:

  • Former Air Force enlisted now working as a contractor as an Air Force mission planner.
  • Has held a TS/SCI clearance on and off since 2006.
  • In 2011 he unintentionally brought home a Secret document and kept it stored in his garage until he discovered it in 2011. He then brought it back to the SCIF and destroyed it without telling anyone. This came out in a 2011 CI polygraph and his clearance was suspended for three months before it was reinstated.
  • In 2016 he was scheduled for a routine CI polygraph and used fast breathing techniques during the control question portion in an attempt to confuse the polygraph administrator.

In his appeal before the DOHA judge, the applicant claimed he didn’t understand that what he was doing could throw off the polygraph results – but then eventually recanted his testimony and admitted to trying to manipulate the test. The applicant’s company management all advocated on his behalf and the judge mitigated the 2011 security violation involving the mishandling of classified information. This was on the grounds that the applicant self-disclosed it and enough time had passed since it occurred. However, the attempted manipulation of the 2016 polygraph was intentional, recent, and a serious breach of trust. Clearance reinstatement was denied under Guideline E: Personal Conduct.