Growing national security apparatus highlights potential roadblocks to obtaining and keeping a security clearance.

A recent Washington Post article detailed what it cites as a top secret national intelligence infrastructure that has been steadily growing since September 11th, 2001.

The Post highlights the fact that some 854,000 people hold top secret security clearances, nearly 1.5 times as many people that live in Washington D.C. itself.

According to Tully Rinckey Partner John Mahoney, many current federal employees are being required to obtain a security clearance. But for some, obtaining one of these clearances might prove difficult.

Mahoney says that in light of the recent economic downturn, credit problems tend to be one of the biggest factors in getting denied these days. “If someone is carrying too much debt, the government may look at this person as a potential security risk by a foreign government to sell national secrets for money, or at minimum, showing lack of judgment and a disregard for their legal obligations,” he said. “But if you are a US citizen, have no serious foreign contacts, have good credit, no criminal record, no record of mental illness and do not use illegal drugs, obtaining a security clearance should be relatively easy.”

According to Mahoney, granting someone a security clearance falls under the sole discretion of the Executive Branch. And unlike most federal employment due process procedures, there is no right to court review of a federal agency’s decision denying or revoking a security clearance.

However, under an Executive Order signed by President Clinton in 1995, a federal employee has the right to a personal appearance before a federal administrative judge. The employee is also entitled to a full written security clearance review. However, federal employees or contractors who lose their security clearances will also likely lose their employment, so security clearance cases need to be taken very seriously.

Mahoney says that, due to the extreme complexity of the process and the high stakes involved, it would be wise to consult a qualified attorney who specializes in security clearance representation.

For more information on security clearances, go to

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