Security Clearances

 

Understanding the Security Clearance Process and How to Prepare for It

The process of obtaining a security clearance from the Department of Defense starts with the eQIP, which stands for electronic Questionnaire for Security Processing. Applicants can only access the e-QIP system after being invited to do so by an appropriate official at their sponsoring agency. Individuals cannot pre-apply for a security clearance, nor update their security questionnaire unless granted access by an appropriate agency official. However, to get an idea of the questions you will be required to answer, click here for the old SF86 form.

If you’re applying for a security clearance, preparation is essential. As you will see from the SF86, you’ll be required to list addresses at which you’ve lived going back several years, friends, credit card information, etc. Most people do not know every address, telephone number, birth date, or email address required by the eQIP so start collecting the information as far in advance as you can. You may also want to request a copy of your credit report.

Filling out the eQIP requires thoroughness and honesty is the best policy. There will not always be an opportunity to explain your eQIP answers with a personal interview to allow you to explain the differences between your eQIP answer and information developed during the investigation, so be careful and reach out for help from a security clearance lawyer or security clearance attorney experienced in security clearance law if you have any questions.

Security Clearance “self Report”

Once you have a security clearance, the government requires that you “self-report” when something “derogatory” happens. While we provide the information below, KML encourages all clearance holders to consult with a security clearance lawyer or security clearance attorney before self-reporting any derogatory information or in the event of a potential security clearance denial, to guide you through the process and protect your rights.

What Is A Derogatory Information?

Anything may be considered derogatory, but here are typical examples:

-Foreign Contacts: Contact with individuals of any foreign nationality, either within or outside the scope of your official duties, in which illegal or unauthorized access to classified or otherwise sensitive information is sought, personal concern that you are a target of attempted exploitation, all close and continuing relationships between SCI-cleared individuals and foreign nations.

-Loss or compromise of classified information.

-Financial Problems: Filing for bankruptcy, garnishment of wages, having a lien placed on your property for failing to pay a creditor, eviction from a residence for failure to pay rent, or simply your inability to meet all your financial obligations.

-Arrests: Any arrest, regardless of whether or not charges were filed. This is the most common reason clients seek assistance from KML. The government also expects you to self-report certain involvement with the legal system, such as being sued.

-Psychological or Substance Abuse Counseling: This is a bit tricky as counseling for certain situations need not be reported (e.g., you sought the counseling on your initiative to help you cope). Counseling must usually be reported if you were advised to seek counseling because of work performance or other undesirable behavior.

If you feel like you are in a situation that may require a self-report, please contact an experienced security clearance attorney as soon as possible since the government expects these events to be reported immediately.

What Happens After I Self-Report?

The procedures that follow a self-report vary depending on the department and your status (Contractor, GS Employee, Active Duty, etc.). Generally, your security manager will determine if a report to the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DSCA) is warranted. Simultaneously, your employer will decide if temporarily suspending your access to classified material is justified. If so, you may be reassigned to duties that do not require such access while awaiting DSCA’s action. This is a temporary decision that can only be reversed by DSCA. A suspension may initiate an investigation to determine if your eligibility should be revoked. After the investigation is complete, the DSCA will evaluate all of the data in accordance with adjudicative guidelines and the “whole person” concept. If a determination is made to reinstate, the suspension is lifted. If a decision is made to revoke, you’ll receive a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a “Statement of Reasons” (SOR) and will have the right to appeal, the procedures for which are outlined below.

Security Clearance Denial or Revocation

If you apply for a security clearance and it is denied, or you have a clearance and DCSA notifies you that they are considering revoking it, you still have options. A denied or revoked clearance could result in job loss, missed promotions, and even separation from active duty. Understanding what goes into the process and how to improve your chances is essential. To read a list of what the government considers when it decides whether to grant security clearances, click here, for the “Adjudicative Factors.”

When a case contains significant unmitigated derogatory information, the adjudicator issues either a “Supplemental Information Request” (SIR) or a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) to revoke or deny your eligibility. The LOI is a preliminary decision and will contain a “Statement of Reasons” (SOR) detailing the issues that are the basis of the decision. The LOI includes instructions on requesting a copy of the investigative file and adjudicated guidance (SEAD-4) to assist you in explaining, providing additional information, or “mitigating” the derogatory information.

Federal Contractors

Contractor personnel can and should submit a written rebuttal to the SOR and request the DSCA reverse their preliminary decision to revoke or deny. If the applicant doesn’t submit a rebuttal, DSCA will finalize the security clearance denial or revocation. If the applicant rebuts the SOR without a hearing, DOHA sends the applicant a File of Relevant Material (FORM) that will be presented to an Administrative Judge (AJ) for a clearance decision based on the written record. It is possible that DOHA could grant the clearance after reviewing the applicant’s response to the SOR, thus preventing the need to present the case to an AJ. If not, the applicant can submit a written reply to the FORM, which will also be presented to the AJ. If the applicant requests a hearing, the applicant (with or without an attorney) may present witnesses and other evidence at the hearing, cross-examine witnesses, and challenge evidence presented by the government. The Administrative Judge (AJ) makes a written decision and sends a copy to the applicant. DOHA then grants or denies the clearance in accordance with the AJ’s decision. If the clearance is denied, the applicant is notified in writing and advised of their right to appeal the decision. As you can tell, there are many points in this process where a skilled security clearance lawyer can be invaluable, and we encourage applicants to get some help if you find yourself in this situation.

DoD Civilian Employees And Active-Duty Military Members

The rules are a bit different for DoD civilian employees and military personnel. These applicants can submit a written rebuttal to the SOR but are not entitled to a hearing. If the applicant doesn’t rebut the SOR, DSCA will deny the clearance. If they submit a rebuttal to the SOR, the adjudicator will decide to grant or deny the clearance in light of the information presented in the rebuttal. If a decision is made to deny a clearance, the applicant receives written notification of their right to appeal the decision, including a right to a “Personal Appearance” before a DOHA AJ.

Should I Hire An Experienced Military Attorney To Assist Me With My Appeal?

You should certainly consider it. A review of 500 cases decided by Administrative Judges (AJs) at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) found that applicants with military attorneys were granted clearances 60% more often than those who represented themselves. An attorney who has experience representing clients in security clearance matters can help you navigate the pitfalls of the process as well as help ensure your appeal is as strong as possible. At King Military Law, we have been security clearance attorneys on both sides of the fence, building comprehensive insight into the process. We know what works, what doesn’t, and why. Please reach out if you think we can help.

King Military Law: Decades of Experience in YOUR Corner–When Experience Matters Most

 

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King Military Law
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Ariel DifoAriel Difo
02:32 17 Feb 24
I was told by my command and even military lawyers that my separation from the military was inevitable and that there was no way to fight it. I lost all hope was going to accept my separation from the military. But, thanks to the guidance of Mr. King, I was encouraged to fight for my name and was even able to win my board with the help of Mr. King and his Firm. Angela and Kasheta were always there to assist me with any questions or concerns I had, and Angela did an amazing job scrutinizing the discovery and finding many flaws with the accusations. It was their hard work and dedication that eventually led to me being retained in the military. Mr. King was always professional and instilled confidence in me that I had nothing to fear. I would highly recommend his firm, knowing that his team will give you one hundred percent of their efforts and help you fight for what's right.
Adam WAdam W
00:27 10 Feb 24
Don and his team at King Military Law are truly incredible people. It's rare that you can call a law firm and speak directly with a lawyer, let alone someone like Don. He gave my father and I exactly the information we needed despite the challenges that ensued. It gave us hope in a very difficult time. Even afterwards, he's done everything he can to help me and my family take action and hopefully help many others in the process. Thank you Don 🙏
cforceman1cforceman1
19:16 09 Feb 24
I recently hired Don King and his team for my legal situation and they delivered expertly. I was not sure what my options were and they laid it out for me in a way I can understand. There are no guarantees when it comes to legal situations but I was lucky that I went with what I came to see was the best in the game. Give them a call. I wish you the same result that I had especially with Angela and Kasheta on the case too.
B MB M
21:58 24 Jan 24
Potentially found myself on the wrong side of an NJP that would have jeopardized my military career and discharge. This was not only a threat to my meticulously built reputation, but also to my future after military service. I was incredibly worried with no idea who to contact or trust.Here comes King's Law Firm - they are a dedicated and diligent team, filled with experienced professionals that have seen almost anything a service member can encounter. This is crucial - they have the unique perspective to provide comprehensive and informed legal advice. Upon listening to my situation, they instantly had a plan of action for me. This provided so much clarity and much needed relief.I cannot stress how beneficial the King Law Firm team has been to me. I need to shout out Ms. De La Garza - she actively listen to me for well over 20 minutes so that she could have the most accurate understanding of my situation. Her attentive nature tied with vast experience makes her such an invaluable asset to have on your side.I deeply appreciate the help, and will certainly use your firm in the future!
Lucas VazquezLucas Vazquez
01:43 11 Jan 24
If you're seeking legal assistance, King Military Law is where you need to go. I was going through legal issues with my command, Mr. King and his staff did above and beyond to help me. From making me feel comfortable and guiding me throughout the case. I can't thank them enough.
Christopher EsquivelChristopher Esquivel
03:25 05 Dec 23
Mr. King is very knowledgeable in military law. He was able to help me and made sure to explain everything in the most simple terms so that I can ensure I was in good hands. He is quick to help you address the issues you are going through and help you find solutions.
kyle doughertykyle dougherty
01:23 02 Nov 23
Don King and his practice, "King Military Law," have been an absolute game-changer in my life. From the moment I spoke to Don for a free consultation over a year ago, I knew I was making the right choice. The journey that followed has been nothing short of extraordinary.I had the opportunity to consult with several military lawyers, but it was Don's unwavering commitment and his word that won me over. He assured me he would stand by my side, and that promise has been upheld most remarkably. Don, along with his exceptional paralegals, Angela and Katesha, embarked on a tireless journey to fight for my rights and my future.The most significant battle they helped me win was against an administrative separation board. The dedication and diligence they put into my case were unparalleled. They left no stone unturned, meticulously examining every detail and aspect of my situation. Their level of commitment to my case was nothing short of inspiring.What truly sets Don King and his team apart is their exceptional communication. They consistently went above and beyond, ensuring I was informed at every stage. Their accessibility and willingness to answer any questions I had, no matter the time or day, gave me peace of mind during what could have been an extremely stressful period for my family and me.Don and his team didn't just treat my case as another file; they treated it as a number one priority. Their genuine care and concern for my well-being and the well-being of my witnesses were evident throughout our time together. They provided support and advocacy that goes above and beyond the call of duty.In conclusion, I couldn't be more thrilled with my experience with King Military Law. Don King and his exceptional team have met and exceeded my expectations in every way. If you need military legal representation, I wholeheartedly recommend Don King and his practice. They are not just legal professionals; they are compassionate allies who will fight relentlessly to ensure that justice prevails. Thank you, Don King and King Military Law, for giving me a second chance and being the unwavering support I needed during a challenging time. You are nothing short of amazing.
Cody WhortonCody Whorton
04:54 21 Oct 23
I am a Chief Petty Officer; I have served for our world’s finest Navy for 13 years. Unfortunately, I had a potential career ending legal event that threatened me with an administrative separation board. After calling numerous lawyers in San Diego, I called Mr. Don King and his legal team. Let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. After speaking with Mr. King, I immediately felt that I had the best legal representation that I could possibly find. I WAS RIGHT! Don is the most honest, hard-working, and compassionate lawyer you are going to find! His team fought for me like I was their son. His team is super responsive and always helpful. They were very knowledgeable and were able to answer all my questions regarding the process. Don’s paralegal Angela would always ensure all required documentation was in order and received in a timely manner. She would even talk to me when I was feeling down and ensured I was making the right decisions on my part. Don fought at my board like it was the last day on earth. This is the best legal team in San Diego. If you choose only one lawyer, choose Mr. Don King and his legal team. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT! Thank you, King family! My wife and I will never forget what you did to help us win this battle.
Scott PRESTIGIOCOMOScott PRESTIGIOCOMO
00:29 14 Oct 23
Had a conversation today with Mr king about a military court case 2000 miles away and spoke with over 20 other attorneys and not 5 of them combined gave me the amount of advice that he did himself! Very well educated in his field with a wealth of knowledge. I have multiple high end attorneys on retainer here in my state so I’m not foreign to well experienced attorneys and this man was what I am familiar with when it comes to well experienced. Sad that I had to swim thru a pool of uneducated attorneys whom claimed to be the best in their field only to find out that they had no clue to what seemed to myself and my legal/political friends to be a somewhat simple question for someone claiming to be a pro! This man is the real deal! This is not a paid or fake comment and I have never met this person who is very far from here and he helped me as if I was standing in front of him! Even as he was walking his dog he took his own time to get back to me. If you’re looking for a legit attorney then you’ve found him! I’d give more stars if possible. I’ll be telling my friends on the west coast in the area about you. Thank you for your time sir!
Jess SackettJess Sackett
20:19 15 Sep 23
Mr King recently defended my daughter for misconduct. His defense ended with a unanimous board decision clearing my daughter of that charge. Mr King was tenacious and unrelenting in her case. His staff are true professionals and highly skilled and experienced in preparing the cases. If you or someone you know needs a lawyer who will fight for you Mr King is the one you want in your corner.
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