Security Clearance Appeals

Security Clearance Appeals

Military personnel applying for a security clearance of confidential, secret or top secret must fill out the Standard Form 86 (SF86): Questionnaire for National Security Positions. Experienced civilian counsel can advise service members of their rights and obligations in the application process, and discuss confidentially with members issues that they may prefer not to discuss with commanders, or other active duty military personnel.

Denial, revocation, suspension or reclassification of a service member's security clearance may lead to long-term negative consequences to a member's military career and life outside the armed forces. A denied security clearance can essentially halt advancement in the military. A suspension or revocation can not only render a service member ineffective in his military career, it can also close many doors to high-paying civilian jobs after a member's term of service is completed. Security clearances are denied for many reasons. Some of these may make sense, such as a denied clearance if a service member has a serious criminal record. Other reasons clearances are denied — high credit card debt, marriage to a foreign national, etc. — can seem arbitrary and irrational.

When a Letter of Intent (LOI) to revoke or deny a clearance is issued to a person, part of that letter is a statement of reasons that specifies which adjudicative criteria is involved and what actions or behaviors by the individual resulted in the intended action. The letter also provides detailed instructions to the individual to aid in the preparation of his rebuttal. If the rebuttal to the LOI does not sufficiently mitigate the issues and the Central Adjudication Facility (AFCAF, DONCAF, etc.) issues a formal denial or revocation of clearance, there is one more level of appeal - the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB). The appeal may be in writing or can be in the form of an appearance before an Administrative Judge from the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA). The judge may ask questions to clarify the issues, and the individual may make statements and present evidence. The DOHA makes a transcript of the hearing and the judge's recommendation, which are forwarded to the PSAB for final determination. Details on how to appeal to the PSAB are contained in the letter of denial or revocation to the individual and to the command. The PSAB determination ends the appeals process.