Security Clearance Denial

When Your Bad Attitude Could Cost You Your Security Clearance

The first case heard by the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals Board in 2017 involved issues regarding handling protected information, misuse of IT systems, and personal conduct. The crux of this case stemmed from the applicant’s continued disregard for following company instructions not to access classified information that he did not have a need to know for, as well as not following proper classified material handling procedures, which resulted in him being written up for multiple security violations.

This particular applicant had been an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and had character references attest to his past history of trustworthiness and honesty. He also had held a clearance for many years without any similar incidents. However, the judge noted the applicant’s refusal to accept responsibility for the security violations, as noted in the letter of reprimand issued by his company. In fact, the judge turned the tables on the applicant by stating that because he had many years of training and experience in handling classified information, it indicated that his actions were deliberate and counter to established security procedures.

The judge also noted that although it had been three years since the last security violation occurred, the fact that the applicant continued to deny responsibility for any wrong-doing prevented using time as a mitigating factor. Ultimately, the judge ruled against reinstating the applicant’s eligibility for a security clearance citing that “security violations strike at the heart of the industrial security program.” In my personal opinion on this case, had the applicant gone in with a different attitude, taken responsibility for his actions, and affirmed that the behavior would not happen again in the future, he probably would have been able to get his clearance eligibility reinstated.