Security Clearance Denial

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Another Defense Office of Hearing an Appeals (DOHA) case to shake your head at and say, “What the heck was he thinking?” This security clearance applicant was denied eligibility under personal conduct for lying multiple times about having used marijuana within the last seven years. Take note, the DoD did not consider the illegal drug involvement itself as an issue. Here are the highlights of the appeal.

  • In July 2019 he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession during a traffic stop, but claimed it was his friends who had left it in his car.
  • In April 2021 the applicant filled out an SF-86 and denied any illegal drug use but did list the 2019 arrest.
  • In May 2021 during an interview with the background investigator, he again denied having used any illegal drugs and repeated his account of the 2019 arrest.
  • In March 2022 the applicant was required to fill out a new SF-86 and again denied having used any illegal drugs within the last seven years.
  • At some point, the background investigator in this case obtained information about the applicant failing the drug test he took in 2019 after he had been arrested and went before the judge.
  • In May 2022 during his security interview, after much probing by the investigator, he finally admitted to using marijuana from 2010-19. He also admitted to having the positive drug test right after his 2019 arrest.
  • In October 2022 the DoD sent him interrogatories to affirm the summaries of his interviews were accurate and true to the best of his knowledge, which he did.

During his appeal, he admitted to all the falsifications and stated he would never do that again. The deliberate failure to disclose required information multiple times during the background investigation is a hard issue to overcome. This was a slam dunk case for the DOHA judge. Most likely, had he been up front and honest about his marijuana use, he probably would have gotten a security clearance. This is a lesson for future clearance applicants. You can read the whole case summary here.


  1. Which lesson? “Don’t lie to investigators?” or "if you’re pursuing a clearance, don’t do anything illegal?

  2. Don’t lie. Period. On your paperwork, to your investigator. It’s pretty simple really.

  3. The liar defense is more common than you think. I’ve read court case numbers to Subjects, and verified their name, DOB, SSAN, and address from same court record, court showed they were served, sentenced, and still had them deny the incident.

  4. What a waste of resources. He should have been ineligible immediately after the first lie.

  5. The intent in these situations is to gather enough information in these cases to “slam the door”.

  6. Always the cover up. Interesting to see the use is finally acknowledged by the government as “not necessarily something” to deny a clearance over.