Security Clearance Process

Character Issues and Security Clearances

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.

Comment Archive

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    Sounds like a good dude.


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    I remember interviewing a former spouse who had nothing but good things to say about her ex- until I asked about his honesty and integrity. Her response was that, if he was willing to lie and betray her, and throw away their friendship and seemingly good marriage for a pretty face what else wold he be willing to give up for that same pretty face? (she didn’t really say “pretty face” but I want to keep it ‘G’ rated…).

    Apparently there are lots of lonely people out there willing to engage in actions that may be hurtful to their loved ones. At what point does their behavior become a security issue?

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    If everyone got a “Lifestyle Lift” we wouldn’t have these problems 🙂

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    This is the future of background investigations:
    The background investigations in the future (near future?) will be at most ESI’s and some remote record checks. The ESI will be a 100-questions with no notes. The results will be stored electronically.

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    One wonders who would even get a clearance if brains were hacked in such a manner? Then the skeletons would be impossible to hide and jobs would be lost with no good people to fill them. There has to be a balance between searching enough and searching too hard would be the general premise of my pint.

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    *point, I meant. Unless it’s 5 o’clock…

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    Awesome. I doubt OPM will spring for them though.

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    “Hack a Brain” Not to be confused with “Whack-A-Mole” That may be the dumbest thing I’ve heard of in a long time.

    I say we just use the giant black magic 8 balls. I’ve used one for years and they never lie 🙂

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    Told you to lay off the pints after work 🙂

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    Pints before work are way better.

    Kidding, only kidding, OPM managmement, I love you guys.

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    OPM Directive 3456.712-2(a) rev. 4:

    “I must make you aware of the Privacy Act of 2014, which states in summary that the removal of your tin foil hat is entirely voluntary and will not affect adjudication regarding your suitability to hold a position of national security with the U.S Government.”

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    The key is: I always wear mine so I can’t ever be “Brain-Hacked.”

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    I’ve had a few subjects who were brain dead.