Security Clearance Denial

Failure to Disclose an Incarcerated Sibling Results in Clearance Denial

Section 18 on the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) asks the applicant to list the following regardless of whether they were living or deceased: Mother, Father, Stepmother, Stepfather, Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Child (including adopted/foster), Stepchild, Brother, Sister, Stepbrother, Stepsister, Half-brother, Half-sister, Foster parent, or Guardian.

Why do they ask for this information? It is simple! These are the people most applicants are closest to and therefore are the most influenced by. What exactly is the government concerned about? Associations with: foreign contacts; illegal drug users; criminals; anti-government instigators; or support for known terrorist organizations.

A recent DOHA security clearance appeal involved an applicant who filled out two separate SF-86 forms between 2013 and 2016 and underwent two security interviews. On all of them he failed to mention a brother who had been incarcerated in a U.S. prison since 2005. During the 2016 interview the investigator pointedly ask the applicant if he had a brother in prison. The applicant denied it. In 2017 he filled out another SF-86 and this time he did list the brother who was still incarcerated. Of course the discrepancy was discovered during the background investigation and the DoD denied him eligibility for a clearance. In his appeal to DOHA the applicant claimed he didn’t list the brother previously because he thought it would impact his ability to get a security clearance. The judge in the appeals hearing wasn’t swayed and upheld the denial based on personal conduct (dishonesty).

Although there is no mention of what the applicant’s brother was in prison for, an assumption is it was for a serious crime due to the length of time he had been in prison for. Although a review and evaluation would be done by an adjudicator, the fact that one has a family member in jail is not a disqualifier under adjudicative guidelines. As is often the case, had the applicant just been honest on all of the applications and interviews he probably would have been granted clearance eligibility.