Security Clearance Denied and Reversed Twice on Appeal
In a rare case of double reversal, the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) Board issued a final decision reversing the previous DOHA judge’s decision to grant the applicant eligibility for a clearance after the Department of Defense (DoD) had initially denied it. Here is a summary of the case and issues involved:
The applicant has a history of Crohn’s disease and a diagnosed psychiatric disorder (Asperger’s Syndrome) that impact life and work habits, thus requiring him to take prescribed medications. As a result of his conditions and medication, he was caught sleeping at work by multiple employers, counseled, and even terminated once for it. He was arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance to which he pled the charge down to reckless driving. On a subsequent occasion he was arrested by police for suspicion of driving under the influence, but the charges were dropped.
When filling out the security clearance application, he failed to disclose the second arrest or the fact that he had consulted with a mental health professional and as a result, was on prescription medication. The DOHA judge in the initial appeal opined that the applicant didn’t deliberately lie on the application about the arrest, citing the applicant’s contention that he did not have to disclose the information because the charges were dropped, therefore he was only detained, and that his mental health counseling was related to grief getting terminated from his job.
On agency appeal to the full board, it was determined that the applicant’s claim of grief due to job-loss was not applicable to the question, and rightfully so. If this circumstance was allowable as an excuse then it would pretty much nullify the veracity of any answer given and make the question a moot point. As well, the board noted that the DOHA judge failed to address multiple inconsistencies in the applicant’s testimony about his failure to disclose the additional arrest and his grief claims. Rightfully so, the board reversed the reversal and denied the applicant eligibility for a clearance. This case just goes to show that even DOHA judges can misinterpret information and stray from common sense decisions.