Obtaining Security ClearanceSecurity Clearance Process

Requesting Dual Citizenship While Possessing a Security Clearance Is a Dumb Idea

Michelle Bachmann is raising eyebrows with a rather odd request for dual citizenship with Switzerland. Under Swiss law, Bachmann was automatically eligible for citizenship upon marrying her husband (the son of Swiss citizens) in 1978. According to news reports, it was just several months ago that Bachmann decided to register her citizenship with Swiss authorities.

Bachmann has since issued a statement saying she sent a letter to Swiss authorities requesting the withdrawal of her Swiss citizenship.

It’s a sticky situation for a former presidential candidate and member of congress, especially one with a high-profile appointment on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which gives Bachmann oversight over intelligence agencies including the CIA and NSA.

Dual citizenship alone isn’t grounds for security-clearance denial, but possessing a foreign passport, having overseas financial dealings, or obtaining citizenship benefits from a foreign country are all potentially disqualifying conditions. Certainly if Bachmann had obtained Swiss citizenship and then taken advantage of any of its benefits that would have been seen as a possible reason for a security clearance suspension. (Although I’m sure we could make a good argument that a member of congress could mitigate the benefits with their allegiance to the United States…maybe). For the average security-cleared professional, it would definitely be a dumb and potentially job jeopardizing move to request foreign citizenship while possessing a security clearance.

I would guess Bachmann was simply the victim of bad advice or poor planning – perhaps her children expressed a desire to explore their Swiss roots through citizenship, which prompted the family to reach out to the Swiss consulate. At least that’s what we can hope.  For now, we can rest assured that Swiss spies are not infiltrating the House Intelligence Committee.

Note: Members of Congress do not undergo a security-clearance investigation the same way security-cleared workers do. Their access to sensitive information is based on their election to public office, not an SF-86. While some have argued that members of congress should be required to undergo a formal investigation, no movement has happened on that proposal. House members are required to take an oath of secrecy, and Intelligence Committee members have a separate secrecy oath, as well. It’s unclear if dual citizenship would be an issue considered by the House and Senate Security Offices, the same way it would in a personnel background investigation.  Read this article on congressional security clearances for more information. 

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    I didn’t realize Congressmen have clearances!

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    I was under the impression that while certain staffers (eg: those on HPSCI, Armed Services, etc.) are cleared, Congressmen and Senators have a special accommodation.

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    I supposed those with a need to know have clearances…I don’t think they all do.

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    From what I have read, members of Congress have whatever access they need simply based on their election and membership. There is too much drama over who would investigate and adjudicate them. They just have to take an oath not to divulge classified information.

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    Matt – Great comment. Yes, you all are correct, I updated the post to clarify. Members of congress don’t undergo the same security clearance process as the masses, and access to cleared information in congress falls under the House and Senate Security Offices. There have been several proposals to require security clearance investigations for members, but concerns about procedures, oversight, and what to do if a clearance was denied have trumped security concerns, so far.

    I’m curious to know if the House and Senate Security Offices have any procedures for investigating congressional misconduct as it relates to sensitive information (i.e., if a member on the House Intelligence Committee is being investigated for a personal conduct issue, would their access to sensitive information in committee be suspended?)

  6. Avatar

    Very interesting article about something I’ve wondered about for a while.

    While members themselves don’t undergo investigations, I assume that any permanent committee staff or staffers of an elected member who need access to classified info undergo investigations just as anyone else would?

  7. Avatar

    Nevermind. Reading before asking helps. Although the linked paper doesn’t mention who exactly does the investigations for Senate staff. I would assume not OPM due to balance of powers issues.

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    I recall seeing a job posting one time on the Senate’s own website for an Investigator position. If I recall one of the responsibilities was doing security clearance investigations for Senate staffers. I may be wrong though.

  9. Avatar

    Dual citizenship should be out until she is no longer involved with our government. When people apply for citizenship from other countries they are not allow to maintain dual-citizenship if they want to become a US citizen. While Michelle Bachmann has access to items of interest shall we say, she should have to maintain a single status.

  10. Avatar

    It’s so quiet around here, is everyone on vacation or overwhelmed with work?


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    All over a record????? What a fool. It has been quiet–most of us contractors have been working on a yearly “push” and another one right around the corner.

  12. Avatar

    BW, hard to believe, isn’t it?

    We’re busy too, guess it’s good all around!

  13. Avatar

    Hey Guys,

    I was wondering where everyone had gone to…

    Another one bites the dust, huh? The article mention’s OPM’s “robust” quality assurance program…they aren’t kidding.

  14. Avatar


    Only the ignorant risk it. I have been doing this 8 years now—and the company as well as OPM has always done re-contacts on me. I know everyone in my area and they always tell me they were recontacted. Have no problem with that. I am amazed that a “Record” the easiest thing we do, was falsified.

    Whatever happened to doing what is right–even when nobody is looking?

  15. Avatar

    BW –

    I totally agree. I never risked it either – a very good thing since OPM targeted me for an audit. I was never told why I was chosen….just the end result that I was cleared.

    I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I took chances like that!

  16. Avatar


    Those audits can be very unecessary. If there was one thing I would change, it would be the reinterview program and re-investigations program. Much of what we do is what each individual sees or deems necessary. The re-investigations are skewed at best. Who checks the checkers? I’ve seen folks ruined for reporting less info than the re-investigating personnel. This is non-sense. Being former LE, I can access about 10 times the info as most, but I don’t and, if I did, does it make my reporting the right way? Way too many variables. Many times, I believe the investigators chosen to do the re-work, falsely represent themselves to the sources…..JMHO.

  17. Avatar

    With all of the times I have been writing “Due to typographical error…” or “Due to oversight…” in my ROI’s I am feeling less and less like an investigator and more like a administrative assistant looking over my boss’ work making sure it looks good before it is sent to the client.

  18. Avatar


    Exactly, who cares if the subj doesn’t know someone’s e-mail address, especially after the refe has already been interviewed.

  19. Avatar


    Because they might be LYING about not knowing their refe’s email address. Maybe they really DO know it but don’t want to tell you. 05D!

  20. Avatar


    Am I sensing a little sarcasm 🙂

  21. Avatar

    Agree 100% Investigator.

    And what’s in an audit anyways?

  22. Avatar


    Usually happens when a source or subj give the re-interviewers completely different info then reported. Half these people can’t remember where they lived, or where/when they worked somewhere and, a HUGE percentage can’t follow instructions on the SF 86. But, when re-interviewed, we expect them to remember what they told someone months ago–you see how these things get skewed. Much of what happens (Negatively) is the wanna-be golden child investigators re-interviewing and f-ing it all up.

  23. Avatar

    Thanks B-Dubz!

    Sounds like a pretty messed up process!

  24. Avatar

    BW, who does the reinterviews, feds or other contractors? Do the contractors get the same random questionaires sent out to sources as the feds?

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    We get both by our QC Dept as well as yours. This is done thru phone calls and mailers. I think it is a good idea, but I think they should have only dedicated investigators to do the re-investigations. I have done many of them and some took months, but I was not short-changing anyone and I ran everything to ground–many sources took forever to locate as they moved on to different jobs or states. Every time I did them, it always was in the investigators favor with the exception of some major procedural errors on only one. I didn’t enter the work thinking folks were falsifying like many do.

  26. Avatar


    I think the process is sound, just not the way it is approached. Big problem is: once you get the stigma as a potential liar–it stays with you. Being able to differentiate from a lie or confusion from a source or subj is what concerns me. No disrespect to investigators, but I think very few are qualified to do re-investigations, at least impartially and having the background to get at the truth when in question.

  27. Avatar

    Thanks BW!

    Maybe someone from the OPM brass will read this and get some fresh ideas?

    Or not.

  28. Avatar


    Don’t get me wrong–a liar and cheat is a liar and a cheat and good riddens to them, but many good people have been dragged thru the mud. I don’t think there is anything worse than having your integrity questioned.

  29. Avatar

    BW –

    I agree…having my integrity questioned was a real sore spot for me. The audit took 6 months! And I was worried the whole time – would I be unjustly accused? It was NOT a good experience.

  30. Avatar

    I have an off topic question. USIS is now saying that any overseas deployment of more than 6 months in the last 3 years is considered a residence and requires residence coverage with 2 sources for the residence and one for social. is this coming from OPM?

  31. Avatar

    Contract Investigator,
    We have been told that is has come directly from OPM. Worst case scenario is if the case is an SSBI and the SJ is deployed overseas for 6 months or more with in the last 3 years and it is their most recent military duty station of 6 months or more we have been told we need to get 5 people total to cover the time frame. 2 sources for the residence, 2 for the employment (deployment) and 1 social as we can’t have more than a 6 month gap with out social coverage. This is all because “double dipping” is no longer allowed. This scenario happens to me often as I work at Ft. Lee for 99% of my cases. I am getting good at writing I-notes for this type of situation. most SJs don’t keep in contact with 6 of their fellow soldiers or Marines who they were deployed with during this time frame. I am lucky to get two.
    What I think is just as ridiculous is if you have an SSBI case where SJ has held the same exact position at a the same location (even the same desk) as a contractor for the last 7 years yet because he has worked for three different contract companies at this same location and same desk longer than 6 months each we now need to get a total of 6 sources for SJ’s employment. Two sources to cover each contract company he worked for even though he had the same position and sat at the same desk for 7 years.

  32. Avatar

    Assinine but more money for me! I’m happy to interview four or six coworkers at the same location as my subject. And why allow someone to even list “I don’t know” as an option on the eqip? Especially if we then have to explain it in the ROI. This job does get more and more silly as time goes on. I really just wish they’d focus on adjudicative issues…

  33. Avatar


    Re-check the source deal when the job is the same…i.e. from military to contractor. You should no longer have to double up on those sources. Should have just changed about 2 or so weeks ago. Sometimes getting the word on policies is the biggest challenge.

  34. Avatar


    I agree–it’s like shooting fish in a barrel as a sub-contractor.

  35. Avatar

    OPM should just let some of us volunteer to deploy overseas to the war zones and let us do the clearances. I’m game if the money is right.

  36. Avatar

    BW is right about the EMPL, same activity even though different employer does not need sources for each employer as long as activity is same.

    And now, now, BW, no overseas work for you guys, we keep that for us golden children.

  37. Avatar

    Does anyone have the scoop on why USIS just made some huge wage retro payments to some of its investigators for the period July 2008 – July 2010? All I heard was “OPM contract modifications.” Really? Two years later?

    Probably more like USIS got caught with its hand in the cookie jar again. Amazing.

  38. Avatar

    We had not heard about the change yet regarding the same job. Communication is very poor with in our company. We usually find out about the way it should be after we do it wrong and get dinked for it.
    As for the wage retro payment thing, I got notification in the mail about it. Suppose to get the check today if I get one. We will see.

  39. Avatar

    BW or Fed,
    Do either of you have the OPM notice regarding the change about “the same activity even though different employer does not need sources for each employer as long as activity is same.” All Inv and reviewers in our company have to do a training session and the training session says we have to obtain multiple sources. This training session came out at the end of May and needs to be done by the end of June. Here is the Q & A saying it in our training.

    Question: If the subject is employed with a contractor and his/her job location/duties stay the same but the employer changes (three different employment items schedule), what is the expectation for coverage? Would OPM require six different sources or two sources who can cover the entire timeframe of that job location?

    Answer: In this situation, two sources, at a minimum, are needed for each employer. This requirement has not changed since the release of the February 2012 policy memo.

    I would love to forward the new policy that you two are talking about up my chain and to our training department.


  40. Avatar

    OPM tends to tell each of its contracting companies different things depending on the questions that are being asked. For example, one company has gotten permission to write on the new sf-86 (for verified information) where it is strictly forbidden at another.

  41. Avatar


    There is no policy memo outlining what you are looking for but in the ‘no double dipping’ memo that was released it talks about no single source can satisfy more than one investigative component (activity). I have been told through my chain that the multi-employer, same employment is considered the same ‘component’ and therefore only two sources would be needed to cover the entire timeframe. I’m not sure if you can get your company to make the ‘component’ clarification.

  42. Avatar

    I need to Fed.

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    We got the info from our IHT Lead. It was never sent in policy letter form, but I can assure you I have gone back to covering those lengthy jobs with just 2 sources and have had no kick-backs. Like you, I get a ton of those cases. Good luck.

  44. Avatar

    This sucks. I asked this question to my Team Lead who forwarded it on to our “National Quality Team” and since they have not heard anything new from OPM about the multiple employer same job location coverage we still have to go with the old way.

  45. Avatar


    Print out this blog, kick open your boss’s door, slam a copy down on his/her desk and scream, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

    Then report back here.

  46. Avatar


    Hahahahaha! I actually take some of the info I glean here to the big bosses. But since the company I’m currently contracting for doesn’t ask the same questions or get told the same answers, we still have to do things like we’re told.

  47. Avatar


    We have to do as told as well, it kind of sucks. 🙂

  48. Avatar

    Let’s streamline this non-sense. Let’s ask 1 question: Do you trust subj? Yes, no crim record/history=cleared. Any objections to my new rule?

  49. Avatar

    I object. You trying to put us out of jobs or what?

  50. Avatar


    Not to worry. You see, I injected common sense into it–thus making it invalid 🙂

  51. Avatar


    That question is not applicable to most RESI sources I’ve interviewed (and still I have to ask them 25 other questions to which I get a “I don’t know”).

    I would use two questions. 1) “Is there anything about him/her we should know about?” [Close your notebook] 2) “Just between you and me, and this is off the record, is there ANYTHING about this person we should know about as this is about national security?”

    And all reports use journalist form and include only relevant adjudicative matter (with only facts regarding the issues rather than counterfactual disclaimers).

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    Good point. Did a resi today and the person answered the door and asked me if I was the home appraiser. I said “No” I am a Special Investigator and they laughed and said “YA Right, good one” while continuing to laugh. They invited me in immediately and to their surprise they were cornered and had no place to hide and had to answer all of my silly questions. The look on their face was priceless.

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    Just discovered this website..what a gem and beats the heck out of the TexT. To the comment about verifying every idk answer, what a pain! What happened to not reiterating what is already filled out there? I can type not listed due to oversight in my sleep now