Adjudicative Guidelines A, B, & C

Adjudicative Guidelines A, B, and C are quite strong in this situation.

“Former Army Special Forces Officer Charged in Russian Espionage Conspiracy”
August 21, 2020

Subject’s mother was born in the former Soviet Union and subject’s wife was a Russian national until 2010.

Indictment here:

Did Army PERSEC drop the ball?

Despite the concerns addressed by the adjudicator in a letter to the subject regarding subject’s extensive associations with foreign (Russian) contacts, clearance was granted.

Ultimately, the outcome of the security process comes down to the applicant vs. the adjudicator. Both lost in this instance.

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Seen this story making the rounds. Makes me wonder though, why is the arrest nine years after the fact?

Not only did this guy get a clearance when he went into SF (probably TS) he was cleared again some years later, apparently by the Dept of the Army.

I did not see the part about this guy having a mother who was born in the Soviet Union… I did see the part about the wife.

Yes, it’s states in indicment under general allegations part 1.
What interesting to me is his first contact with RU intelligence in 1996. In the same year he was granted Secret Clearance. In 2004(!) he got TS SCI(!) Now how is the guy went on passing poly after poly???

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If he is a meaningful asset to RU, possible they could exchange him for Americans held in Russia on spying charges.

It is better to catch a suspected spy in the act in order to prove an espionage case in court. This involves a lot of waiting. Also, sources and methods: What are they having the suspect do, and why, where, when? All useful information.

It is not made clear in the indictment at what point in time investigators became aware of the conduct charged in the indictment. It seems that Debbins has been under criminal investigation since at least last year. The Washington Post interviewed one of Debbins’ relatives who stated, “Debbins had been cooperative with federal agents since last year and voluntarily went Friday to what he thought was another meeting.”

It is not clear whether Debbins was polygraphed in connection with the TS/SCI clearance he held while on active military duty with the Special Forces. His security clearance was revoked in 2004, but reinstated in 2010 in apparent connection with employment with an NSA army contractor. For that, he certainly would have been subject to a full scope polygraph examination.

It is not publicly known how Debbins passed any polygraph “tests,” however according to para. 46 of the indictment, two of his Russian intelligence contacts offered him “training on how to deceive polygraphs.” It is not stated whether Debbins ever received such training.

In any event, it is well-documented that polygraphy is vulnerable to simple, effective countermeasures that polygraph operators have no demonstrated ability to detect.

The adjudicator did not drop the ball. So, people marry foreigners everyday from all countries around the world, many regarded as adversarial. But, did he show signs of allegiance to a foreign power? You can’t simply say someone is sympathetic just because their wife is from some other country and they have visited that country. That’s why their is the whole person concept, and that is why the field investigators do interviews with supervisors, friends, teachers, and anyone else they can identify, who might shed some light on the subject and their trustworthiness. What about people who gain U.S. Citizenship and renounce their natural citizenship? Should they not be allowed to obtained a security clearance because they might still feel obligated to support their home country…or what about foreign national being allowed to join the U.S. military? Should that be allowed?

It wasn’t just his wife, his Mom was from the soviet union. Usually having more than one connection to foreign adversaries is grounds for denial. Let this connection have been to one of the gulf countries or anywhere else in the middle east and he almost surely would have been denied after 2001, as you can see in multiple DOHA cases. In most of those, the governments position is that you don’t have to show any sympathy to the foreign power to be denied, even though that is a more recent stance so I can’t really say that the adjudicators failed.

Overall its cases like these that create the need for the stances the DoD now has on clearances. Its not always fair, I have served with many ex-pats of other countries who put their life on the line for ours but it is what it is. As they often say “no one has a right to a clearance”. If I can get my clearance revoked for being behind on credit card payments then I think its fair game that someone’s ties to foreign lands are held to the same kind of scrutiny.

The report I saw referred to a “Letter of Concern” from the Army Central Clearance Facility. That tends to discount the possibility of this mope being cleared through any IC agency.

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  1. Relax, this is hypothetical.

  2. Its Russia’s fault that we can’t trust people aligned with their country, not anyone here. Obviously they gave this guy and many others chances and it came back to bite them.

Its certainly not unreasonable. I’d probably get laughed out of 10 rooms if I tried to join a Russian or Chinese intelligence agency or cleared military position. I don’t know why America is expected to compromise its security in this manner…

How is security being compromised? Are you saying people born outside of the US, who are naturalized citizens somehow go through less scrutiny? Yeah, let’s not even accept them into clandestine roles, we’ll use google translate instead of native linguists, save some money along the way. Besides, only damn foreigners sell their adopted country. Where were Robert Hanssen and Aldridge Aims born?


The biggest flag I saw was the omitted/overlooked was the father in law being a Russian Air Force member. How did that slide by the CI/BI/Army SF screeners?

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But in the end of the day…
Does not exactly look like a high profile spy case. They were after army field manuals… Given $1000 and a bottle of cognac? Please…
I guess someone really, really needed to convict a Russian spy during the election campaign.

That’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be “high profile” to trigger an arrest.

Debbins lied about a lot in his background and it has come to light. Now he gets to pay for it.

If the authorities focus only on arresting high-profile suspected persons, then that tells the low-profile people, “It’s okay, you can get away with lying on your security forms and presenting yourself as a low-level, yet constant threat to US national security.”

Even the low-level, lazy types like Debbins provide useful “lessons learned” in counterintelligence and PERSEC. Whether those lessons learned are applied to shoring up security is another matter.

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Robert Hanssen did not have a foreign spouse or relatives. Yet, he spied for the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for well over 20 years. Different things motivate people and it can be hard to pin down what those motives are. There will always be spies because humans are malleable given the right circumstances. The U.S. recruits spies and has for a long long time…its the nature of the business. Lets not forget about Ana Montes, former DIA spy.

I mean did you read the indictment? This guy was recruited by Russian intelligence in 96 two years before he joined the US army and then proceeded to provide them whatever they wanted for near twenty years.

This is not acceptable in the slightest! They also mentioned in the PR that they recently arrested a Chinese spy, since you seem more concerned about the implications of a particular political party than of the security of our nation.

I’m not sure how you got that at all from what I said or why you are creating arguments to argue against. Again, I couldn’t hold a cleared position in Russia or China. Why is America supposed to be any different?

There should be more scrutiny of alot of different people. Sorry that it offends or worries you.

USA has been build on idea of multinational coexistence. There are over 3,000,000 of Russians, almost 4,500,000 of Chinese, almost 4,000,000 of Indians, over 57,000,000 from Latin America live here in USA. Those numbers are astonishing! Government need the cultural knowledge and language expertise of the immigrants in order to maintain national safety. How could you not have fed employees with multinational background??
On other hand Russia, China, India, Mexico considered monoculture countries. Those countries have no such extensive immigration, so they don’t have fed employees from US origin just because there are barely any American immigrants living there.

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