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Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States

With respect to National Security Adjudicative Guideline A – “Allegiance to the United States” – DoD Directive 5220.6 explains that the ability of an individual to “safeguard classified or sensitive information is in doubt if there is any reason to suspect an individual’s allegiance to the United States.”

When determining whether or not an applicant is able to establish allegiance, the government will take into consideration whether the applicant: (1) participated or supported acts against the United States; (2) placed the welfare of another country before those of the United States; and/or (3) failed to adhere to the laws of the United States, which in turn resulted in harm to the United States’s interests. See 32 CFR 147.3 – Guideline A – Allegiance to the United States.

Practically speaking, examples of conduct that could raise this as a security concern might include:

  • Acts of espionage, treason, terrorism, or sedition;
  • Associating or sympathizing with individuals who commit or are attempting to commit acts of espionage, treason, terrorism, or sedition; or
  • Associating or sympathizing with individuals/organizations who support:
    • Overthrowing or influencing the government;
    • Preventing government personnel from performing their official duties;
    • Gaining retribution for perceived wrongs caused by the government; and
    • Preventing others from exercising their rights.

Mitigating Conditions – Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States

If an applicant’s conduct raises a concern regarding his or her allegiance to the United States, each of the following conditions, as applicable, could mitigate any security concern:

  • The applicant was unaware of the unlawful goals of the individual/organization he or she associated with and severed ties upon learning of the same;
  • The applicant’s conduct was humanitarian and permitted under the law;
  • The applicant was involved in the conduct for a short period of time and was attributable to academic interest and/or curiosity; or
  • The conduct occurred under such unusual circumstances and/or was so long ago that the conduct is unlikely to recur.

Discussion  – Many of the issues that most people would perceive as involving “Allegiance to the United States” are actually covered under “Foreign Influence” (Guideline B) and “Foreign Preference” (Guideline C). Guideline A, for the most part, relates to conduct involving unlawful speech or action to influence, harm, overthrow the government (whether at the federal, state, or local level) or conduct aimed at preventing others from exercising their constitutional rights.

It is important to keep in mind that mere criticism of government policies and/or agencies is protected by the First Amendment. Thus, merely voicing dissent with respect to either the government or existing laws is not unlawful and does not constitute a security threat (although such conduct could be potentially disqualifying pursuant to Guideline E (“Personal Conduct”)).

In the end, cases involving allegiance issues are rare. This is because, in most instances, if a investigation reveals allegiance issues, rather than continuing the investigation and/or adjudicative process, the case would promptly be referred to a counterintelligence agency for further investigation.

Security Clearance Denial Lawyer 

If your security clearance has been denied or revoked due as a result of activities related to allegiance, contact the security clearance denial lawyers at the Brett O’Brien Law, LLC today.  We will work to present clear and persuasive mitigating conditions on your behalf.  Contact us today for a free case review.