Denial due to minimal drug use, and being stupid in poly


Considering Snowden and Chelsea Manning downloaded stuff…yes, it is frowned upon. Sharing movies and copyrighted stuff to include music is cheating the artist out of money. Peer to Peer copying has been addressed in court many times and the big industries do go after average joe citizens every day. Can you define how much stuff you downloaded, what kind and what you did with it? If you have gigabytes of music that is indeed a problem and families are paying very large fines for their children doing stuff at a desktop or on a laptop in another room. In the early 80’s nobody was thinking of how to protect the rights of the artists and it was common (dating myself) to buy tape to tape component pieces for stereos where you could high speed dub from a master to private collection. But in these instances we denied the artist their share of the money. Napster was born in the digital age, became a behemoth, followed by imitations like Limewire, Kazaa, and more peer to peer apps. The Bit Torrent sites were another move to take pieces from various sources. I admit I thought it a fools errand when they started suing kids. But eh courts clearly took it serious.I can tell you almost all my IT folks get hammered extensively on non legal downloads during their poly’s. It is a ripe fruit for picking so to speak. But again if it is a one of event, not much to worry. But keeping in mind tender egos regarding Snowden and Manning…we can best understand why downloading makes them angry.


Just to update everyone here, I hired a law firm, Bigley Ranish, we replied to the SOR and they still upheld the denial. We’re going to the in person panel next month.

I’ve been unemployed for almost 6 months now. I’m barely surviving thanks to the GI bill housing allowance and student loans. I’ve had 3 or 4 phone interviews for SOC analyst or cyber intel uncleared positions, but nobody wants to hire someone who’s experience isn’t exactly in those positions.

I’m working on my Master’s in Cybersecurity, being tutored in Russian, I have Security+ and CEH.

But I according to the IC I downloaded approximately $30k worth of music, movies, and games in the last 16 years. I gave generic values, overestimating my usage. Saying ‘oh an album a week, a movie a week, a game every two weeks, etc.’ and when she asked for values I was like, ‘hmm I guess albums are like $10, same with movies, and games are like $60?’, so they added that all up to $30k since 2001.

I’ve given them 6 outstanding reference letters from the people I worked with, including a LTC, and two IC employees. I’ve given them receipts for the years and years of Hulu, Netflix, and Gamefly I’ve had. But they still upheld the denial.

I’m scared I’ll still get the denial after the panel, after giving the lawyers $4500 total. I’m making this post to let people know that even if you think something isn’t a big deal (which I know isn’t the case anymore, and I haven’t downloaded anything in over a year), and even if you are 100% truthful and honest and upfront when asked about it, you can still end up in this situation.


Well . . . As a professional photographer and musician . . . In other words: As the producer of copyrighted material . . . I’ve always seen this as an issue.

They almost always continue the denial when you respond to an SOR. That is why they really only ask you to “admit or deny” each entry. I doubt that they pay much attention to the rest of your reply. Your lawyer will present your case in terms of the mitigating factors on each entry.

But, since you have been doing this since 2001 and only stopped a year ago, “youthful indiscretion” is going to be a tough haul. You were clearly old enough to know better and the fact that you were using illegal downloads while working on your MS in cybersecurity, to me, doesn’t look good. The same goes for doing so while pursuing your other certs. It just looks like you stopped because you were applying for a clearance. That’s exactly what they do NOT want to see.

After all of that, I still believe that you have a shot but it’s a tough one.


I have to second Ed on that. My brother produces content regularly and it costs thousands of dollars. Shared copyrighted content that costs money is a loss.

Status quo because “everybody” else is doing it, doesn’t make it legal.

30k over 16 years seems fair to me. It’s a little under 2 thousand a year in entertainment.

Definitely good luck though.


I have seen them estimate up on several items. For instance, a person says they smoked MJ on weekends for a two year period. The poly person becomes chummy, not adversarial, they give reassurance…tells them “I get it, not everyday, you were working…but weekends, down time…off duty…not harming anyone just detoxing from daily stress…” Person feels comfortable at the reception given this revelation, and says (yes, like that). Poly person writes it up as person confessing to 208 to 450 uses of MJ over 2 years. Person gets SOR, is astounded at never claiming that. If you consider 3 days as week end, Friday, Saturday and even Sunday as it isn’t work day…over two years…And what may have been every few weekends is not part of the official record as heavy use.


I started my Master’s in April of this year, the downloading stopped June of last year. But yes, I get it.

I’ve only downloaded maybe 5 or 6 things since I joined the Army 4 years ago. 90% of this stuff is from pre-2012.


To update my thread,

even after the in person panel, the denial was still upheld.

Unemployed for 8 months, just working on my master’s degree in cybersecurity. I’m also in a CISSP bootcamp right now, I already have SEC+ and CEH.


Do you mind sharing how they quantified the drug use as in how many uses, or how many non legal downloads? I ask so as to learn. I am always interested in first person experiences. You appear to be “owning” the bad stuff and still working hard to develop a better “you.” I commend you for not losing hope and faith. You can mitigate this by putting a few years between you and the event. Keep the SOR and denial notes. I think after 365 days you CAN apply for a cleared position, but I would wait 2 to 3 years before taking a new shot. Show you can live without drugs or non legal downloads. The longer the period of time between now and then creates a compelling picture of who and what you are now. I appreciate you sharing the update.


The drug use was a non-issue. I thought that’s what the denial was about but the SOR is just about illegal downloading. I smoked pot once over 10 years ago.

The SOR quantifies it as over $30k in illegal downloading since 2001. I haven’t downloaded anything since July 2017.


Sorry to hear cinders… that’s rough, I know in the 90s this was standard among anyone I knew with Napster and whatnot… I believe there’s a difference between streaming content and downloading and inpact of the laws… so was it indeed downloading/storing on comp or just streaming pirated content?


The problem isn’t so much the downloading as the amount. Polygraphers are tricky in that sense, and overestimating will never help you.


As someone who just had my interview, this thread is kind of depressing. When my interviewer asked if there was anything else that I thought I should report, I mentioned that I had sporadically downloaded stuff in my late teens and later. The amount was far, far less than OP’s, and over 5 years ago in the past, but still now I’m worrying about it. :fearful:



it was indeed downloading/storing on my computer. But I never distributed/shared files.


I wouldn’t worry too much, it’s not my intention to overly worry people, just inform them of this possibility. You should be fine, their main issue was me doing it while having a clearance.


They love to estimate upwards. I think it is to help their metrics on who denied how much stuff.


I think that it’s because they are pretty damned sure that applicants estimate downward . . .


You’d laugh and cry at some of the Subject’s who thought they were downplaying their issues… for instance the Subject that told me he only drank 18 to 24 cans of beer on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I thought he meant a case over the weekend - he meant a case each night.

BTW - his case had major alcohol issues we had already developed.


That is true. Getting folks warmed up enough to reveal sensitive info is how I work at knowing the depth. But I have seen them estimate to skyrocketing numbers. Smoke on weekends? 52 weeks a years…hmmm, count it daily as Friday, Saturday, Sundays…156 times smoking…But I understand how some think they are savvy and will play it down.