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IT’S THE LAW - Dishonesty, habitual drinking can lead to denial, revocation of security clearance

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Most Soldiers in the U.S. Army have some form of clearance—whether it be confidential, secret, top secret or top secret with access to secured compartmentalized information. Regardless of what level of clearance a Soldier has, there are several things he or she should know about having a clearance and how to maintain it.

Regardless of the level of clearance a Soldier has, getting and maintaining a clearance requires the security manager to file a clearance request and to take their fingerprints. After they have filed the request, Soldiers will receive an email with a link to fill out SF-86 on what is called “e-QIP.” Soldiers must fill out the e-QIP within 18 days of it coming to their email inbox, so Soldiers should check their email frequently. Once they have filled out e-QIP and the security manager has taken and submitted fingerprints, the clearance investigation will begin.

In between adjudications, there are several things Soldiers can do to protect their clearance, as well as several things that may lead to a revocation or denial of a clearance. Some of the common things that may affect a Soldier’s ability to hold a clearance include:

n A criminal or dishonest act. This includes everything from a DUI to identity theft to lying on the SF-86 (be honest on all forms).

n Connections to foreign nationals, including foreign banking. Again, this is an area where honesty on the SF-86 and in the interview goes a long way.

n Excessive debt or recurring financial difficulties. This includes bankruptcy, liens on property or unpaid taxes. Financial issues do not always result in problems for a clearance, and issues can generally be prevented if Soldiers address their financial problems quickly.

n Habitual heavy drinking, indications of alcoholism or the wrongful use or possession of any controlled substance, including marijuana or prescription drugs that are not the Soldiers.

n Lying or attempting to cover up information, either on the SF-86 or in the interview. Nearly every time, the investigation will discover what Soldiers are trying to hide, and lying is far worse for a clearance than admitting or dealing with whatever issues he or she may have.

n Clerical errors or accidental omissions in the SF-86. Make sure to go over the form to ensure it is correct before submitting it. Most errors can be corrected in the personal interview, but not always.

n Traveling to foreign countries without first contacting the security manager, or leaving foreign travel off of SF-86.

n Refusing to answer questions, either on SF-86 or in an interview.

If it is proposed that a Soldier’s clearance be suspended or denied, they have several rights that come along with that determination. First, a Soldier is entitled to have a written statement explaining why action is being taken. This statement will require them to sign an acknowledgement that they have received the letter, and the Soldier will be counseled by their command.

Second, Soldiers have the right to request a copy of the investigative files under the provisions of the Privacy Act.

Third, Soldiers have the right to submit a written response that provides an explanation, a rebuttal or mitigating factors for the incidents indicated in the written statement. If a Soldier needs more than 60 days to file their rebuttal, he or she may also file for an extension with their security manager. A Soldier’s rebuttal must address each issue raised in the written statement. Additionally, he or she may attach letters of recommendation from their supervisors. Once completed, a Soldier’s commander must review their response and state that they believe their clearance should be denied, revoked or restored, and they must provide a reason.

Fourth, Soldiers have the right to receive the U.S. Army Central Clearance Facility final decision in writing and the reasons for this decision. This should be made by CCF within 60 days of receipt of your written matters. If it cannot be made within 60 days, Soldiers are entitled to receive written notice of this and the expected time CCF will make its decision.

Finally, Soldiers have the right to appeal CCF’s decision. A Soldier can appeal in writing to the Army Personnel Security Appeals Board or request to appear in person before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals. Soldiers have 60 days from receipt of CCF’s final decision to appeal. No further appeal is authorized.

Legal assistance attorneys can assist with responding to a proposed suspension/revocation action and any appeal.

If a Soldier has additional questions about security clearance issues, call the legal assistance office at (502) 624-2771 to schedule an appointment. n