Bad reference TS clearance?

Had a falling out with a friend - I had already listed this person on my equip and it has been submitted already. This person has told me they are not gonna give me a favorable reference - I’m afraid this will be prevent me from getting a TS/SCI clearance as it seems like the person would be malicious about what they say. would it be better if I explained to the investigator what happened between me and the ex-friend and that the ex-friend has stated they would not give me a favorable reference (they were going to before the falling out) ?

One person can’t take you down. Anything negative they say has to be verified by another source. One of the questions you will be asked is “Is there anyone who would not recommend you for a position or national security?”. Answer and explain.


My experience with investigators…they are savvy enough to filter those with an axe to grind: ex wife, bad neighbors, ex friends. Just because the ex friend says bad things like “don’t trust him” he cheated on video games" that gets compared and contrasted with all the other info. And it doesn’t mean ex friend is giving a fully truthful POV.


as long as I’m fine within the 13 SEAD adjunctive guidelines, then it doesn’t matter what they say?

Essentially, yes. Not everyone will like or respect all people. At times for no reason, a small reason or a good reason. If you cheat at Poker…not a big deal. If he paints a picture you cheated with his spouse? Maybe he demonstrates you have a lot of skeletons ? That can open a line of uncomfortable questioning. But a simple falling out, we don’t get along? Not seeing it. If you give us a little more we can understand better

I had put the person down as a reference when I had submitted my sf86, but we recently had a falling out in which the person informed me they were not willing to give me a good reference and told me to replace them with someone else. I told them that wasn’t possible but they could always refuse to do the interview, in which the person said they decided they would do the interview and not refuse it. (This is where I think the malicious part comes in). I do however have a screenshot of a text that another friend sent me where the said person is saying he might even give me a good reference - he just wants me to apologize for whatever (it was a dumb disagreement that blew up and I don’t think I need to apologize). I say this to demonstrate that this person was formerly down to help me out but this fight has caused him to want to do otherwise. I was wondering if I could show this to an investigator to show that whatever the person says is skewed and motivated by this desire to get back at me?

Now is not the time to be stubborn my friend. With a third person disinterested sit down, talk it out…and look at things from his POV. Is pride worth risking him desiring to sabotage you? Hopefully his ethics kick in and he gives a solid interview. There are plenty folk I did not like at all…but was able to give honest, ethical answers regarding how they would be for national security purposes. But why risk it? You can hear him out, own whatever you did, not kiss his butt, but also give him what he needs to move on. If he offers nothing of national security or conduct concern…he can tell the BI person he hates you all day long. If he has nothing…it will show.

even so, would having that screenshot help me out when I explain things to the investigator? The thing is that I had already made attempts to talk things out with him, but when we talked, it was clear he did not want to reconcile and remained hostile and then a few days later said all these things to me. In my opinion, I’ve done what I can to make things right, but he has rejected them.

please no screen shots. Also, if you tell an experienced investigator that is good at their job that they shouldn’t talk to a reference because you had a falling out - you are telling that investigator “go talk to that reference”.

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I defer to the BI guy. That said…would never offer a negative person to review me. Did have a new BI person claim "in the interest of speeding things up, not wanting problems…is there anyone we shouldn’t talk to? You know cranky neighbor? I rolled my eyes, chuckled and told them to talk to anyone they dang well pleased. I mean…crazy cat lady…she’s just…never going to forgive my dog eating her cat.

I say hold on to screen shot in case it becomes relevant. Otherwise, let sleeping dogs lie. If the issue is clearly on his side of the table…FIDO, Forget it, Drive On.

I find that the vast majority of the time, people will shoot straight with you, even ex spouses whom I am sure will be nothing but derog often surprise me.

I wouldn’t sweat it. Pro tip, if your investigator asks which of three references know you best, don’t answer it’s the dude that is going to bury you.

And come on, you have to tell us what the argument is about so we can judge the level of stupidity.

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why no screenshots? it shows that the person wants to give a malicious reference

also i’m not gonna tell the investigator that - this person is listed as one of my 3 references

at the very least, should I let the investigator know about this person and our current situation? - he is already listed as one of my 3 references that knew me well in the sf86 I had submitted

Nope, let it roll. If he gives info the BI person wants to explore it will come back to you. So whatever the “issue” is…be prepared to speak in confidence to the investigator. Me? I would make peace or make effort to make peace…then move on knowing the person and relationship ran its course

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No screenshots because it’s not solid proof and is easy to forge, especially if they’re screenshots from someone elses phone.

If investigators want proof via texts, they’ll first have to pull your phone records and your ex-friends. Then they’ll have to verify the texts by verifying time stamps, then verify that your ex-friend said what is in those texts. (or via another process, just guessing here).

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not even if they ask “is there someone who wouldn’t recommend you for a national security position?”

Why would you ever give a name for that? I would say absolutely nobody. And everytime their inside voice screams " Bullsnot! But he knows how this works. "

I’m confused because this person is telling me to do the opposite? I understand telling the investigator a name will make the investigator want to interview that person even more… is the most prudent approach just to not say anything and then if anything comes up, the investigator will bring it up and then address it?

You are misunderstanding my advice. I’ll try another approach. You are overthinking this. They aren’t asking you to definitively find someone who would never recommend you for a clearance, and then provide that name. Certainly they want a balanced perspective on who you are. But they are not asking you to sink your ship, they are asking if there is anyone out there with possible misgivings about you. Trust me in real life there are plenty. That doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. But normally people provide three people willing to say wonderful things. That is easy. Its kind of a catch 22 question. If you gave them Vladimer Putin as a name,that would be interesting, or the North Korean attache…but generally speaking they are not really asking you to find someone who would possibly prevent you from getting a clearance. They are shaking the tree to get as whole a picture as possible. When I first moved to Virginia my dog broke a lead and chased a cat off our deck and ate it. That neighbor was understandably upset. So was I. But I didn’t really like the cat using my daughter’s sandbox for litter. When asked that question it isn’t my responsibility to identify someone with ill will against me, to provide possibly damaging info. Un-neighborly events do not a national security threat make. So I honestly answered the question as “No, I cannot think of anyone.” You are interpreting this as “I must find the person I wronged in life and put my fate in their hands.” A simple falling out between former friends is an everyday thing. Now, if this falling out happened because you expressed an interest to sell classified material? Violent overthrow of the US Government? A supremacist organization focused on denying civil rights? By all means give that name. Otherwise an argument over the obvious superiority of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Ravens (prior to last year and next 2 or 3) just isn’t relevant to the question asked. Hoping that better characterizes what I am trying to get across.

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