Security Clearance Denial

The Story of the Clearance Holder, the KGB, and Havana Syndrome

In one of the more unusual Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) cases I have seen in quite a while, this defense contractor had held a security clearance since 2008 until it was revoked in 2021 due to concerns about the state of his mental health after he had reported he was potentially drugged by foreign intelligence operatives, experienced Havana Syndrome like symptoms, and couldn’t sleep for four days. Here are the highlights of the appeal:

In 2019, the contractor started experiencing hallucinations and paranoia attacks in which he believed he had been drugged and the KGB wanted to kill him. He also believed his wife was a Russian spy. During one round of hospitalizations, he thought that all the medical staff were foreign intelligence agents and that he was being stalked. He sent a coworker a text about him being drugged while working for another government agency and that he was suffering from Havana Syndrome. The coworker reported the text to his security office who opened an investigation. The contractor was evaluated by a psychologist who determined he suffered from anxiety and paranoid personality disorders. The contractor was subsequently put on anti-psychotic medication and given a treatment plan.

Although the mental health professionals provided a positive prognosis and were of the opinion the contractor’s mental health was stable, the DOHA judge noted during his psychological evaluation the contractor still believed he had been drugged and was the target of foreign intelligence operatives. The judge also noted individuals with psychotic or delusional disorders mostly act normal when not experiencing an episode, so there remains the risk of a relapse. Ultimately, any concerns about a person’s judgment or reliability must fall on the side of protecting national security – clearance revocation upheld. You can read the entire case summary here.


  1. Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. Just yikes.

  2. Wow. Imagine if this was your reality, firmly, passionately believing and feeling this?

    Read a book called MadDog. Entire premise isvery much like this, told from his perspective. He firmly believes he is a prisoner in a gulag. The book plays it straight as he plots his escape…final pages pan outward from the prison…it is a mental institute. And all of his delusions are just that. Delusions.

    You really buy in to the character, the story, etc.

    I feel for anyone trapped in their own head.

  3. I repeat. Yikes… Just yikes.