Background Investigations

Pathological Lying, a Misdemeanor Offense and a Top Secret Clearance

Federal prosecutors, the district court judge and a number of others are asking how Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Scott Allan Bennett was able to obtain a top-secret clearance and work as a defense contractor, despite a 2008 misdemeanor conviction for lying to government officials, the Tampa Bay Online reports.

The story unfolds like something from a television crime drama….or an issue of the Onion satirical newspaper. Over the past five years Bennett has repeatedly lied to government officials, bluffed his way into meetings, offices, and in his current conviction, housing at MacDill Air Force Base.

An Army Reserve spokesman stated that Bennett’s TS/SCI clearance was obtained four months prior to his entrance into the 11th Psychological Operations Battalion (a somewhat fitting occupation for a man of Bennett’s persuasion). Almost everyone seems to agree that regardless of how it happened, allowing such a person access to sensitive information is risky for a number of reasons.

ClearanceJobs managing director Evan Lesser, quoted in the Tampa Bay Online, says that government agencies need to investigate how Bennett got his clearance, what information he had access to and what he may have done with that information.

“It seems really difficult to believe that he did not have red flags from past behavior,” Lesser said. “Should somebody be concerned about this person? I would say most definitely. He had high level clearance and access to a fair amount of classified information at a very high level. It seems like somebody dropped the ball on this particular person.”

Comment Archive

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    If pathological lying prevents one from gaining a security clearance, I don’t think anyone in Congress would be granted one.

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    I did when I was in Congress,it was right after I piloted the last shuttle mission 🙂

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    How to spot a liar: Anyone who say “It’s classified, I can’t show you” is a huge liar. The poor clerk at the housing office will take the fall for this one.

    Anyone in the Air Force should know, if someone is seeking anything on behalf of a 4 Star General, one phone call to the base protocol office will prove or disprove.

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    My favorite part of the story was the CIA guy, who lays the blame on the Investigator or the Adjudicator. Way to go CIA guy, who writes this crap?

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    Air Force would have adjudicated an SCI clearance level for this one, even for an private industry sponsoring company. It always goes to the military branch the contractor is working on.

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    AND… BW is right. A 4 star trumps the investigator and adjudicator every time.

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    I wonder if this is the start of people “slipping through the cracks” because certain investigators who work for a certain company are rushed to get their work done and can’t do a thorough investigtion because they don’t want to miss an ACD. It may not be the investigators fault at all but I have talked to various co-workers of mine and we have been wondering when something like this was going to happen due to all of the work we have and short time frames we have to get it done. All our company seems to care about is making money and not national security. Glad he was caught.

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    Blues Clues ~ see USAJobs announcement # DSS-11-504720-B

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    I have applied for that position as well Adjudicator and Blues Clues.

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    As Evan Lesser said in the article, the timeline on this one is critical. The charged offense must not have popped up on the NAC. You can’t lay it at the doorstep of the investigator, becaused field investigators don’t do federal agency checks unless they know there is derog info held by a federal agency that is not obtainable through an NAC. And this guy would have certainly hidden his activities from his friends and work associates.

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    Folks don’t seem to understand that many criminal charges and convictions (in non-federal civilian courts) are never going to pop up on federal or statewide criminal history checks.

    You can expect that criminal charges a person wasn’t arrested for/processed on (booked) – i.e. charges issued on summonses (and, by the way, ANY charge can be issued on a summons) – are not going to be reported outside of the local jurisdiction.

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    Adjudicator 101 –

    Thanks for the heads up as promised! Good looking out.

    I submitted my application (5+ pages resume) last night.

    Let the games begin!

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    Blues Clues,
    In my state summons are only used for civil proceedings and to order people to appear for jury duty. To charge a person with a criminal offense in California there must be a complaint, an information, or an indictment. I’m fairly sure federal law is the same. Bennett’s case was federal.

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    Mr. Henderson,

    In my state, a commonwealth, summonses can be issued in any civil or criminal matter. I personally saw a summons for murder back in my LEO days. There are many reasons someone might be issued a summons on a criminal charge rather than being arrested/processed.

    On the flip side, you could be issued a summons on a criminal charge, and if later convicted, be ordered in to custody for processing retroactively. At that point, the information would spider out to state and federal databases. If not convicted there would be no need or basis for the person to be processed.

    In my prior post I spoke in generalities about my state only without saying so – my bad!

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    Blue’s Clues:
    Unfortunately no details have been reported regarding Bennett’s “misdemeanor” conviction in 2008. Because it involved lying to a Government official, you’re left to assume that it had something to do with the visa for the South African woman in 2006.

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    Looking at this, folks should know military bases everywhere are rife with these kind of incidents. I have alot of personal experience on this. I bet the trail leads to reactive personnel and no follow-up or info sharing took place. Sounds like poor criminal investigative work–not background work by any investigator.