Security Clearance Process

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Security Clearance Attorney

Two recent articles at note the rise – and importance – of professional security clearance attorneys. If you have a difficult clearance situation, or face the potential of losing your security clearance, chances are you’ll need some kind of professional assistance.

When it comes to getting a job in the intelligence community, it’s understood that most future CIA spies don’t spring from the womb donning a dark tie and sunglasses. A squeaky clean past isn’t a requirement for an intelligence career, but absolute honesty in the application and adjudication process is.

For many in the intelligence community, polygraph screenings are a key place for problems to arise. The security clearance polygraph process is increasingly under fire, and is one area that can leave many potential hires calling for legal advice. A McClatchy News Service report harshly criticized the polygraph process, arguing that employment screenings had uncovered instances of illegal behavior, including the viewing of child porn, and those disclosures weren’t revealed to federal authorities.

But it isn’t that cut and dry, notes Brad Moss, associate counsel at the law office of Mark Zaid, a well-known security clearance attorney. He explains, “The question asked during the polygraph is: ‘Have you ever seen anything pornographic that makes you feel uncomfortable?’ The men say yes, sure—that sometimes gets false flagged as child porn.”

The polygraph process does not offer a lot of opportunity for context – you’re basically battling a computer, and as Jeopardy taught us, that’s a tough battle to win. Nuance is not well understood by a machine.

So, if you decide you need to consult a lawyer, what should you ask in your initial consultation? Here’s a list compiled by ClearanceJobs contributor and security clearance consultant William Henderson:

  • What are my chances of being granted a security clearance?
  • How many security clearance cases involving an SOR have you had in the last 12 months?
  • How many cases resulted in the successful rebuttal of an SOR without going to a hearing?
  • How many cases resulted in the granting of a clearance after a hearing?
  • Which federal agencies have you dealt with on security clearance cases?
  • Who in your office will prepare my case (attorney or paralegal)?
  • About how much will your services cost?
  • How are your cost and fees calculated?
  • How and when will I be required to pay?
  • What do you need from me to get started?
  • What can I do to help keep the costs and fees down?

Have you ever sought professional help in your clearance process? Did it help?

Comment Archive

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    Merry Christmas all!

    I hope Santa brings you all clean cases for the new year.

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    You too. Not looking so good right now. Last night (Friday) at 5:50pm I got a 24 hour quick fix from OPM regarding information that they received from the subject after the interview was completed that they want me to confirm with the subject. He must have sent something in to them directly. Fabulous!

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    2012 was an earth-shaking year in this industry, to say the least. Let’s hope things quiet down somewhat in 2013.

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    I wish I could cherry pick my cases. It takes me less than 30 seconds reviewing the case papers and messages to determine which cases will be nightmares. Where there’s billowing smoke there’s usually a raging inferno. Adjudications should be done by NYC night court judges… before any field work needs to be done.

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    Contractor- me too! Except I am not the original investigator on it. None of my visiting family can comprehend why I am up and getting ready for work right now (it’s Xmas eve morning) They all say, “I thought you could make yor own schedule;-)” Have a Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year- may the rest of fy13 be better times for us all.

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    In the past my record has been tattered.I am presently out of the military seeking employment,with DOD:Can I expunge my former records.?There is no felonies…just alot of dirt.

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    You can’t just have records expunged without cause. If you have no felonies, one assumes only misdemeanors. If you feel comfortable sharing what has happened, we may be able to provide our opinions.