Obtaining Security Clearance

Working for a Foreign Government is Tricky for Clearance Applicants

Many of our warfighters return from hostile-fire zones all over the world, elect to leave the service, and then end up returning to the same areas as a contractor or consultant making a lot more money. Nothing wrong with that, as they have a special skill set that is in high demand. However, even though they may be working for a U.S. based company, many of their clients are with either a foreign government or private citizens who are foreign nationals. Under the adjudicative guidelines this concern falls into foreign influence and outside activities.

In a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals case a DoD contractor was initially denied eligibility for a security clearance because he had worked for 12 years as a security consultant and executive protection for a high profile Saudi Arabian official who was formerly a military officer. The contractor’s duties also included taking care of the man’s wife and children, also Saudi citizens, while they were attending a boarding school in the United States. Even though he no longer works for this company, in 2017 he was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that obligates him to retain and withhold any information obtained during his employment with the Saudi official and his family. In essence, the contractor is under the influence of a foreign entity.

This was an interesting case in that even though Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally in the region, the political landscape involving human rights violations, lack of religious freedom, providing aid to terrorist organizations, and sanctioning assassinations all point to a potential conflict of interest if he had to choose between security clearance reporting requirements and the nondisclosure agreement.

In his appeal the contractor provided mitigation that helped resolve the foreign influence and outside activity concerns and eligibility for a clearance was granted. This was a good case study, you can read the entire summary here.