Proficient Security Clearance Lawyers
Many individuals who apply for government work today — whether government employees, contractors, or military members — are required to go obtain a security clearance as a condition of employment. This is especially true post 9/11, where national security clearances are required for anyone accessing classified information.
Security clearance investigations are extensive. Individuals applying for clearances should expect to have their personal lives, including their financial and criminal histories, reviewed. In doing so, the government is trying to obtain a clear picture of the individual’s character and security risk.
An Experienced National Clearance Attorney Can Help
The Brett O’Brien Law, LLC provides nationwide representation to those who have been denied a security clearance or their clearance has been revoked. The experienced law firm has successfully assisted numerous government contractors, military personnel, and federal government employees in every stage of the security clearance process by providing effective legal representation.
When a security clearance has been denied, the National Security Law firm can represent the employee or military member through the appeal process before the DSS, DOHA, or the government agency processing the clearance. Employees and military members seeking national security clearance must take the appeal process extremely seriously, as failing to obtain or maintain security clearance in the appellate stage can result in the loss of the position. To obtain a no-obligation consultation with the National Security Law firm, call (202) 600-4996 or complete the confidential and secure online contact form here.
National Security Clearance: Reasons for Denial
Approximately 4.3 million jobs require security clearance and more than 1 million investigations and re-investigations are conducted each year. Individuals applying for security clearances, however, are often denied clearances due to issues related to: Finances, Alcohol or substance abuse, Criminal charges, Sexual conduct, Mental health, Foreign influence, Misuse of technology, Conflict of interest, and/or Security violations.
Anything from traffic offenses to credit card debt, for example, can prevent an individual from being able to hold a clearance. Examples of other issues that could prevent or delay the issuance of a security clearance include dual citizenship; failing to be truthful when filling out the security clearance application (also known as the SF-86); alcohol, drug, or substance abuse issues; having family members who reside in foreign countries; and psychological problems.
Thus, the security clearance application process should be taken very seriously and care must be taken to answer all questions truthfully, as honesty throughout the process is key. Oftentimes, the failure to obtain a security clearance will lead to the inability to obtain a job within the federal government.
Moreover, as explained above, security clearance applicants must be thoroughly investigated and favorably adjudicated. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that individuals that hold security clearances will be re-investigated on a regular basis. It is therefore essential to retain the proper clearance in order to continue working in a sensitive position as the revocation of a security clearance will often lead to the loss of the individual’s job.
While the investigation resulting in the initial issuance of a security clearance is exhaustive, it does not guarantee that an individual issued a security clearance will be eligible to possess that clearance indefinitely. The government can and will suspend and/or revoke a security clearance for numerous reasons if the individual’s ability to work in a classified environment is called into question. Thus, subsequent financial hardship, such as defaulting on a mortgage, or being charged with a criminal or traffic offense, such as driving while under the influence, could result in the subsequent revocation of a security clearance.
What to Do When Security Clearance Has Been Denied
It is no surprise the process for obtaining security clearance with the federal government can be a very daunting and challenging experience. After all, when applying for either confidential, secret, or top secret clearance, the applicant’s personal and professional life will be thoroughly analyzed and interpreted.
As aforementioned, security clearance can be denied for a number of reasons, including minor offenses such as alcoholism. Whether the application is for a government contractor or a federal employee, if the security clearance has been denied, it is important to know that there are a number of recourses available. When it is believed that the application denial has been made unjustly, it is always possible to appeal the decision.
How to Respond to an Application Denial
Federal government agencies can take as much as six months to approve a security clearance application. When a clearance denial has been received, the applicant will be issued a notice called a “Statement of Reasons”, also referred to as a SOR. This form may outline the areas of concern, provide specific reasons, or the disqualifying reasons that the decision for denial was determined on.
Government workers who do not agree with the denial can request to see the records or documents on file that influenced the agency’s decision to deny security clearance. Workers can then submit a written response to the disqualifying factors provided in the SOR. Their response, which needs to be returned to the agency in as little as 15 days, should provide sufficient reasoning as to why the decision was an error. It is absolutely necessary that the response provides mitigating factors that could merit a reconsideration of the agency’s decision. Furthermore, the SOR response should also cite relevant legal precedents.
At this point, the clearance adjudicator may grant the security clearance if sufficient mitigating factors have been met. On the contrary, it may be necessary to move the process to the formal appeal stage.
Conditions That Could Mitigate Security Concerns
When the agency provides reasons for a security clearance application denial, it may also provide a list of conditions that when met, the clearance denial may be reconsidered. Every applicant’s case will be different, but mitigating factors could include:
- Evidence that the concerning conduct was temporary, engaged in infrequently, or it has not been engaged in a very long time.
- A counseling program has been completed for the disqualifying factor.
- Proof that the involvement in the disqualifying factor was humanitarian and permitted under federal law.
- Evidence that suggests steps were taken to address the issue.
- The disqualifying factor occurred as a result of circumstances not in the applicant’s control.
There are a number of mitigating factors that could increase the applicant’s eligibility for access to classified information and grant him or her national security clearance. It is important to remember that the applicant’s behavior during the investigation process will always be a factor for consideration. Therefore, it is always important to be forthcoming with information when there is reason to believe there are potential red flags in one’s background.
Appealing the Security Clearance Denial
When a petition for national security clearance has been denied, there will always be an opportunity to appeal the decision. Depending on the type of worker or if the applicant is a military service member, a security clearance denial can be formally appealed by requesting a hearing before an administrative judge or an appeals board. Here, the case will be heard and assessed.
In other situations, the appellant will need to respond to a questionnaire from the agency within 20 days of receiving the form. When responding, it must also be made clear whether the appellant would want to receive a written decision or attend a formal hearing with respect to the response. In both scenarios, records and documents pertaining to the decision will be made available to the appellant. It should be noted that formal hearings could involve supplementary witnesses and evidence. This option is preferable to those with significant or serious security concerns.
Security Clearance Lawyer – Nationwide Representation
If your petition for security clearance has been denied or revoked, the legal guidance and assistance of a knowledgeable attorney can make a significant difference between a successful national security clearance appeal or a failed one. A skilled attorney will ensure that the written response to the applicable government agency has been adequately researched, is clearly stated, and is fully inclusive in mitigating the concerns of the agency, which will result in a security clearance approval.
When granted an appeal hearing, a qualified national security clearance attorney will understand best how to present the mitigating evidence to the appropriate judge or appellate board. A well-versed attorney will make sure the appeal is productively moving forward. When the matter involves more complex issues, a proficient security clearance attorney will question witnesses on your behalf. If you need proficient legal support in navigating these issues, consider contacting the National Security Law Firm for assistance. A free consultation can be made available to you today.
Brett O’Brien Law, LLC provides nationwide representation to individuals who have been denied or revoked a security clearance. The security clearance lawyers at The National Security Law Firm regularly assist individuals in all stages of the security clearance process.
Our security clearance lawyers provide effective counsel throughout the entire security clearance application, revocation, and appeal process, including:
- Security clearance application (SF-86 and DD Form 1879) assistance;
- Investigative interview preparation;
- Responding to interrogatories;
- Responding to a Statement of Reasons (SOR) or Letter of Intent (LOI);
- Representation at Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) and other hearings; and
- Appeals to the DOHA Appeals Board, the CIA, or other agencies.
If you have been denied or revoked a security clearance, it is important to keep in mind that you must act quickly, as there are strict time requirements that you must meet. Thus, it is important to consult with a security clearance lawyer as soon as possible. The security clearance lawyers at Brett O’Brien Law, LLC will work not only to obtain and/or retain your security clearance, but your job. Contact us today to speak with an experienced security clearance lawyer. Call (202) 600-4996 or complete the confidential contact form today.