Ignorance of Laws or Rules is No Excuse
In the national security world, ignorance or mistake of law is generally not an excuse for failing to abide by legal obligations. This opinion has been established long ago by appeals board judges in upholding security clearance denials. There are various adjudicative guidelines where claiming ignorance of the rules or laws is just not plausible. Below are some examples:
- Guideline H (Drug Involvement): Just because marijuana is legal in the state you are living in or visiting doesn’t mean you can use it and expect to maintain or be granted clearance eligibility. It is common knowledge that under federal law any type of marijuana is illegal, especially if you already have a clearance and were briefed.
- Guideline E (Personal Conduct): All males are required to register for the Selective Service when they turn 18 year of age. Failure to do so before the 26th birthday renders one ineligible for a security clearance or civil service employment.
- Guideline D (Sexual Behavior): Viewing pornography at work. Even if you weren’t specifically told by your employer when hired, this practice is prohibited in the workplace and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
- Guideline K (Handling Protected Information): Violating security procedures by bringing cellphones or other audio recording equipment into secure classified workplaces is a big non-no, especially since those granted access are briefed and trained on the rules.
Good judgment, reliability and trustworthiness are character traits for being a “good” security risk. Making bad choices, an inability to exercise rational control over impulsive behavior, and failing to follow rules is a “bad” security risk. Ignorance of the law or rules cannot be used to mitigate issues. When doubts exist about an individual’s character, the decision whether to grant or deny access to classified information will always be resolved in favor of national security.