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Clearance is denied
July 2, 2010 5:40 AM   Subscribe

In accordance with Executive Order 10865 of 1960 & DoD Directive 5220.6 of 1992 (original PDF), the Department of Defense has published the reasons for granting or turning down applications for Clearance by 444 Defense contractor personnel in 2010 (so far).
posted by scalefree (34 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of many similar:
Applicant intermittently used marijuana, an illegal drug, from 1970 through 2006. In the interim, he was granted a security clearance and access to sensitive compartmented information (SCI). He failed to disclose his drug use on security clearance applications in 1996 and in 2002, but reluctantly disclosed his drug use during an October 2006 interview. Applicant's efforts to quit drugs mitigated related security concerns. His concealment of his drug use was aberrational and his rehabilitative efforts were sufficiently significant to mitigate criminal conduct security concerns. His undisclosed drug use while possessing a security clearance and access to SCI, however, pose sufficiently significant concerns to leave personal conduct security concerns unmitigated. Clearance denied.

It's not the scandal, it's the coverup.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:45 AM on July 2, 2010


It's interesting reading. It's really tough to get a clearance if you have family in certain foreign countries. No matter what you have done.

I'm not sure if it's all the applications, or just the ones that were originally rejected and then appealed.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on July 2, 2010


Applicant is 28 year old user of MetaFilter, and is known to hold dual Something Awful forums/MetaFilter membership. He has posted 2 well-researched and interesting MetaFilter posts and three acceptable AskMetafilter questions. However during the 2008-2009 period he was involved in heavy MetaTalk snarking and posted a badly-disguised "chatfilter" Ask Metafilter question. Dispite a large number of favourites received for insightful AskMetafilter answers and a generally level-headed temperament, he still poses a non-trivial flame-out risk. Clearance is denied.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:00 AM on July 2, 2010 [32 favorites]


Wow. The things available on the interwebs!
posted by rtha at 6:01 AM on July 2, 2010


I ran across this a couple of days ago (via HN, possibly) and couldn't think of a way to post it that didn't come off sounding too inside-baseball, but glad someone made a go of it. It's quite interesting.

Most of the 'clearance denied' decisions are for financial reasons, with the runner-up being drug use. There are a few odd ones in there. One is quite the twisted tale involving some guy whose girlfriend/wife got involved in some sort of heavy lifestyle BSDM thing, put up a website, but then wanted out, and was being (reading between the lines a little) extorted for it. It's very WTFy, but interesting because it's one of the few times I've heard of someone being declined a clearance because of something their spouse was up to, that wasn't either foreign involvement or outright criminality.

I'd been wondering exactly what sort of kinkiness would cost you your clearance these days; if that's the answer it's a reasonably high bar. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of looking at the extortion angle and not at anyone's lifestyle as a 'morality' issue.

The other thing it's worth pointing out is that, unlike at some points in the past, getting declined for a clearance isn't a lifetime perma-ban or anything; you can reapply after fixing ('mitigating') the factors that caused them to decline you and possibly get through. In some cases those factors may be something you don't want to 'mitigate' (like family living overseas), but the financial and most of the drug/alcohol ones are probably tractable. A large part of the process, I've been told, is basically constructing a personal narrative / argument that shows how you're on track to put and keep your life together.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:15 AM on July 2, 2010


One interesting thing about several of these is that it states the applicant intentionally falsified or omitted details on their eQip form. The form explicitly states that any intentional omission is a felony. I wonder if any of these people were subsequently charged?
posted by KGMoney at 6:18 AM on July 2, 2010


Applicant failed to advise his employer and the Government that his wife maintains two pornography websites, which include hardcore pornography. This decision places him in a position to be exploited, coerced or forced to provide classified information. He has not mitigated the government's security concerns. Clearance is denied.

Crikey. The DoD hasn't looked at the internet recently has it?
posted by Happy Dave at 6:19 AM on July 2, 2010


Happy Dave: That's the one I was referring to ... if you drill down to the underlying document the situation is more complex, and there's what seems to be some actual extortion going on, or at least the pretty definite risk of it. I'm not sure it's as much of an 'omgporn' issue as it appears in the two-sentence summary.

The problem seems to be that the applicant's wife maintained, then closed, then reopened (with less content) the websites, and there's some sort of ongoing disagreement with the wife's BSDM partner (not the applicant) ... it's not hard to see how that would have passed the "come back to us when you've sorted this out" threshold.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:26 AM on July 2, 2010


You're a security risk because you are covering up details about your personal life. Why are you covering them up? Because you're afraid the DoD will brand you a security risk.

The Department of Defense: the fine folks who brought you Catch-22.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:32 AM on July 2, 2010


I ran across this a couple of days ago (via HN, possibly)

Probably in this AskMe question.
posted by smackfu at 6:50 AM on July 2, 2010


It's not the scandal, it's the coverup.

Truer that you'd think. The problem with doing something illegal is leverage -- "Give me the plans to the super secret weapon, or I tell the cops about your drug problem."

There are classifications where having an immediate family overseas is a reason for denial, for similar reasons.

I'd been wondering exactly what sort of kinkiness would cost you your clearance these days.

One that you're hiding that someone can shame you into passing along classified information. If you are gay, and hiding it, you would be denied many clearances. Want them? Get out and show up at Pride parades. Now that it's public knowledge, it can't be used to blackmail you, and the security issue dissipates -- as long as you are truly out. If you can't say to anyone that "I fuck goats, and I like it," then there's a security issue.

That's the main reason that drug use is a strike against -- it's illegal (which they don't care about) and could be used to leverage you into compromising secure data to avoid exposure (which they really care about.)

Financial problems are the biggest strike against, because of the temptation to sell secrets to fix those problems.
posted by eriko at 6:52 AM on July 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you can't say to anyone that "I fuck goats, and I like it," then there's a security issue.

When I worked at a Defense contractor & was being pressured to apply for Clearance, one story we were told was of a guy who admitted in his interview that he had had sex with chickens. Because he told them about it he wasn't considered a security risk & they granted it.
posted by scalefree at 7:21 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you look at the older ones you see a lot more "denied." Progress?

One thing that always bothered me about that system: if you seek treatment for depression or substance abuse or anything, it shows up on your records. So there's an incentive to just try to deal with things on your own. I always wondered about which of my co-workers was silently ticking away...
posted by JoanArkham at 7:24 AM on July 2, 2010


The vulnerability to coercion generated by Applicant's 2004 possession of pornography and lingering doubts about whether he is no longer sexually aroused by underage girls render him an unacceptable candidate for access to sensitive information. Eligibility to work in a sensitive position is denied.

Lingering doubts!
posted by mendel at 7:37 AM on July 2, 2010


I've been reading these avidly since I saw the link in the AskMe question. Most of the time it seems that people with substance abuse problems, if they can show that they're actively committed to working on them, do okay. If they've gotten their clearance revoked because of the problem [which is the stuff we're reading here] it's already a problematic issue but I saw one guy who was an until-recently pot smoker but ihe had a plan for quitting and it checked out so he was okay/cleared.
posted by jessamyn at 7:52 AM on July 2, 2010


Does anyone know if these are published for applicants other than defense contractor employees?
posted by grobstein at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2010


What determines which clearance applications are posted? Is it dependent upon them going through a formal appeals process or simply any application that is not a clear-cut 'yes'?
posted by wrok at 8:12 AM on July 2, 2010


I think this might be my most favorite thing posted to Metafilter. Thanks!
posted by bluefly at 8:16 AM on July 2, 2010




Financial considerations concerns remain because Applicant has $56,742 in delinquent accounts. While $54,633 of the delinquent debts are medical debts incurred when Applicant had no health insurance, his monthly expenses are more than his monthly income. His financial problems are unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Security concerns remain under financial considerations. Clearance is denied.


:(
posted by asockpuppet at 9:00 AM on July 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd been wondering exactly what sort of kinkiness would cost you your clearance these days
Any that can be used against you to extort state secrets. Like someone said above, if you don't care if everyone in town knows the crazy-ass stuff you're into you'd be OK. But, if some foreign national could threaten to show pictures of your craziness to your wife, that'd be different.
posted by sideshow at 9:20 AM on July 2, 2010


Wow, thanks for this post. I find this really interesting for some reason. Someone upthread was concerned about it being inside baseball, and it is! I love inside baseball!
Most of the 'clearance denied' decisions are for financial reasons, with the runner-up being drug use. There are a few odd ones in there. One is quite the twisted tale involving some guy whose girlfriend/wife got involved in some sort of heavy lifestyle BSDM thing, put up a website, but then wanted out, and was being (reading between the lines a little) extorted for it. It's very WTFy, but interesting because it's one of the few times I've heard of someone being declined a clearance because of something their spouse was up to, that wasn't either foreign involvement or outright criminality.
That would be this one.
posted by !Jim at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, the crux of the case came down to the wife having been in a relationship with a violent man from the BDSM community. The judge was concerned that this man might represent a threat to the couple. Additionally, the judge was concerned about the man's failure to disclose that his wife ran a couple of porn sites, and that that secrecy might put him in a position of vulnerability.
posted by !Jim at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2010


Thanks for the link !Jim, that was fascinatingly bizarre.
posted by no_moniker at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2010


I posted the link listed in the FPP to AskMe a few days ago.

I was applying for secret clearance a few years ago as part of the Computer Science Study Panel run by DARPA. CS2P is a program for junior faculty in computer science. They took us to a lot of the places run by the Dept of Defense, including CENTCOM (charged with the MiddleEast), SOCOM (special operations), SOUTHCOM (South America), STRATCOM (Strategic Command), TRANSCOM (Transportation), NSA, DIA, NGIA, DHS, and JTF-GNO. The goal was to help us understand the information technology and computer science problems the DoD has. (A side effect is that I think I now understand a few of the many, many acronyms the DoD has)

I can't say too much about what I saw, but what I can say is that it's one thing to rationally know how many billions of dollars and how many hundreds of thousands of people the Dept of Defense has. It's another thing to viscerally see and feel it.

The DoD is simultaneously an impressive early adopter of technology (UAVs, robotics, sensor networks) while also being an incredible laggard (just starting to use blogs, social media, web services, still using IE6, months or years to approve software for use). Today's high-tech quickly becomes tomorrow's legacy system.

One big surprise for me was Gen. Norty Schwartz, who was then the head of TRANSCOM (the command responsible for moving people and materiel around). He cited carbon as one of the big problems the DoD had, and was pushing for ways of reducing their carbon footprint. The other big surprise is that he is now Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, since he was a transportation pilot rather than a fighter jock. This, along with UAVs, may represent a sea change (or an air change?) for the USAF, in that it strikes at the heart of the entire Air Force culture of what it means to be a pilot.

The whole issue of cyberspace was also a fascinating topic. Who in the DoD and the US Government is in charge of defending cyberspace? Even today, it's not clear. Should it be NSA? Should it be the Air Force (air, space, and cyber)? Should it be the organizations deploying the communications and networking? Should each branch of the armed forces have their own? What are the rules for engagement? What constitutes an attack? How much information is being lost? What are better ways of protecting ourselves?

Overall, it was fascinating to get a glimpse into how one the largest organizations in the world works, in terms of the rules, the culture, the people, the software, and the hardware. It really gave me a better insight as to how the US government works as well.

I realize that the military and DoD are not the most well-regarded entities on MetaFilter, sometimes for good reasons. I hope my post won't lead to a boatload of snark. Many of the people I met were very aware (far, far more than many our elected politicians in the USA) of soft power approaches, using diplomacy, aid, trade, and intelligence to achieve political goals. Many were also all-too-aware of the hard realities of the situation they were being placed in (Iraq, Afghanistan), and the challenges they were being asked to face by our elected officials. I think the discussion of why these more intelligent, nuanced voices are not heard within the DoD is a topic for another day.

At any rate, I was eventually denied secret clearance for reasons I won't say here, but you might find my case in the DOHA site.
posted by jasonhong at 11:28 AM on July 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I posted the link listed in the FPP to AskMe a few days ago.

Huh, I didn't even see that; I found it in a friend's twitter feed. And because I used a different URL for my link to the directive, MeFi's search didn't pick up that they're the same thing. Curious.
posted by scalefree at 11:37 AM on July 2, 2010


I found it in a friend's twitter feed

Was it me-your-friend?

And it's not a double because it was just a supporting link in Ask, not a FPP. Thanks for the backgrounder jasonhong, that's really interesting.
posted by jessamyn at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2010


Was it me-your-friend?

Now that would be something. No, it was an old friend that's been running in government, military & intelligence circles recently.
posted by scalefree at 11:47 AM on July 2, 2010


Faith-based policy decisions?!

A former honor student and exemplary teen, Applicant moved from cigarettes to marijuana to other vices(???!) between his final high school years and college. He hit his nadir toward the end of college. He struggled to regain his faith and overcome his vices. On February 14, 2008, he quit using drugs. Since then, he has matured, regained his faith, become active in his church, involved in community outreach for troubled youth, mended relationships, excelled at work, and successfully built a strong network of mentors to help him maintain his current spiritual, personal, and professional course. Applicant mitigated drug involvement trustworthiness concerns. He has no intention of ever using drugs again. Eligibility for a trustworthiness determination granted.

Considering how detailed other reports are regarding specific documentation of drug use, what are we to make of "other vices"?
posted by markkraft at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2010


what are we to make of "other vices"?

I can't help but wonder if these things sometimes inadvertently reveal more about the evaluator than the applicant.
posted by Hylas at 2:31 PM on July 2, 2010


Considering how detailed other reports are regarding specific documentation of drug use, what are we to make of "other vices"?

You can click through to see the detailed PDF reports. In this case, the "other vices" are magic mushrooms, opium, cocaine, and getting his ass kicked in bar fights.
posted by smackfu at 2:36 PM on July 2, 2010


getting his ass kicked in bar fights.

A dangerous addiction
posted by grobstein at 2:52 PM on July 2, 2010


So, the reviewer mentions the occasional bit of grass... but fails to mention the cocaine and opium?!

Apparently, buying nd using hard, incredibly addictive drugs pale in comparison to the evils of getting the giggles and eating a whole pizza.
posted by markkraft at 4:03 PM on July 2, 2010


Jack McGeorge was a well known leader in the Washington bdsm community and he was forced to resign as a UN weapons inspector when he was outed in the press.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:11 AM on July 4, 2010


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