Failing a Polygraph Alone Won't Cost You a Security Clearance
A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst who lost his job and his security clearance in 2009 has reached a settlement. John Dullahan was never informed of the reason for losing his job due to the Pentagon’s decision to invoke a national security clause which allows it to keep the reason for firing private, and eliminates the normal appeals process for fired government employees.
In one of former defense secretary Robert Gates’ last acts before stepping down, he granted Dullahan an appeal, which allowed him to settle with the DIA and formally retire at the end of last month. Dullahan will also receive all back pay and benefits from the time of his termination, $25,000, and attorney’s fees.
Dullahan lost his job and security clearance after supposedly failing three polygraph examinations, but DoD polygraph policy states that failing a polygraph alone is not sufficient to cost someone their job. There must be corroborating evidence or information from other sources or the applicant himself (this is why the post-poly interview is often the most important – and stressful – part of the process)…
Here is the DoD polygraph regulation, including the national security exception used in Dullahan’s case:
C188.8.131.52. The determining authority shall notify the subject, in writing, that, although the investigation that followed the indication of deception during the polygraph examination did not in and of itself provide an independent basis for denial of access, a determination to deny such access to the subject had been made, based upon the finding of the determining authority that access under the circumstances poses an unacceptable risk to the national security. The subject shall also be advised, in the case of a determination made by a Component authority, that the determination may be appealed to the Secretary of Defense. Determinations by the Secretary of Defense are conclusive.
The story would have ended with Dullahan losing his job and his security clearance if Gates hadn’t stepped in and granted the appeal. That appeal has allowed Dullahan to reach his current agreement with the DIA, who still isn’t revealing the details of why Dullahan lost his clearance in the first place.
According to Dullahan’s lawyer, he has already applied for a security clearance with a defense contractor, in pursuit of a new job, and new career, outside of the DIA.