Hypothetically speaking chances of TS w/poly denial for following case

Hypothetically would “person A” have any major issues getting a TS security clearance based on the following?

No criminal record, no drug use and never has (weed or other form of drug), does not drink, 780+ credit score, 0 debt (CC are paid in full, no car loan, no house loan etc.), no family outside the US, no contacts outside the US, no mental illness, no loss of a job.

Unfortunately two possible issues.

  1. Person A was single (not married or dating at the time) but had sex with a married individual several times over the course of a year or so. Significant other of married individual never knew. Person A no longer has sexual relations with this person. Person A now does have a relationship but is still not married.

If something came up there would be no issue with explaining to Person A’s significant other regarding the “sexual history” (lie of omission to Person A’s significant other about previous dating life and embarrassment of said act). If a person threatens Person A with blackmail to tell significant other of married individual, Person A would have no consequences (e.g. Person A would not lose anything other than embarrassment).

  1. Has downloaded/pirated music/movies illegally in the past. No legal action has ever been brought to Person A for said usage.


  1. Would these two issues cause Person A to not get a security clearance?
  2. Would this come up in a TS screening with poly?
  3. Should person A tell interviewer if it did come up (Person A assumes yes)?
  4. If it did come up in a poly and Person A told security interviewer would security interviewer go question significant other of Person A or the married parties (e.g. to find out more) and divulge that information?
  5. Is security professionals tracking this information going on here would they track IP and information coming across this board and then use this information against Person A?


Downloading copyrighted stuff is radically different from pirating copyrighted stuff.

  1. Coin toss.

  2. Yes.

  3. Yes. Definitely. Always.

  4. Never. Never, ever.

  5. Coin toss. But it shouldn’t be an issue if you just lay it all out. The worse that can happen is you are denied the clearance and job. Or lose the job. This is infinitely preferable than concealing this and worrying every day it will be uncovered. And at that point the consequences will be a whole lot worse. And fessing up then is a felony involving national security. This is how relatively minor indiscretions and errors in judgment can easily and quickly be compounded into a soul and conscience-crushing issue that you can either go to your grave concealing or face serious national security felony charges.

What is the difference in downloading copyrighted stuff versus pirating copyrighted stuff? If Person A has downloaded movies/music from torrent sites in the past which is it? Which one is of concern? None of this was done on a job site or network solely on personal time.

For the sexual affair that person A had while single what would cause this issue to be overlooked/mitigated to the point of no issue to the investigation? Person A assumes time since contact/location? How much time would need to pass? Also if Person A is not in a relationship and mitigate the issue as well? Or would a combination of both need to occur?

Basically what could be done to have this as a non issue if Person A has not been in contact with said person for 6+ months?

Piracy is usually associated with financial gain and making the copyrighted material available to others through peer-to-peer. Most cases are simply theft. Theft of copyright is simply recording a song off of YouTube or ripping and burning a music CD for a friend. Person A was involved in theft. I would try to characterize it better though. Maybe not use the word theft but replace it with violated copyright.

The sexual liaison with the married person doesn’t sound like a deal breaker. The fact that it has ended, and person A has moved on, is important. And the fact that person A doesn’t think it could blackmail him/her is important as well. OTOH, it does show evidence of recklessness and lack of judgment and discretion on the part of person A.

All that aside, just be 100% truthful and let it ride. Your choice of language in admitting these indiscretions is very important as well. Someone who is disproportionately apologetic or uses damning descriptive language (“I engaged in theft” vs. “I think it might have been a copyright violation”) about something they admit to is as much a red flag as the person who is dismissive.

Thank you very much.

Person A was not gaining financially from obtaining “copyrighted” material. Simply downloading for personal usage (e.g. personal entertainment of said material). So person A violated copyright.

You are correct that person A feels there is no blackmail potential. There is no issue that if the liaison told future relationships (almost as a "so what? almost everyone has prior relationships). As for the other matter you are correct that the sexual “misconduct” in the literal sense would show evidence of recklessness and lack of judgement and discretion. Is there anyway to mitigate this? Other than acknowledging the “stupid/ignorant/reckless” behavior? Person A assumes that being apologetic and have “learned from their mistakes”?

Obviously being 100% truthful is the key and completely understandable. These two items are really the only concern that can be thought of. Would the hiring security officer be someone to consult with on how to phrase the faults or would a security clearance lawyer be a better route?

Marko’s the guy to weigh in on these questions. He was an adjudicator and has seen it all.

I know as an investigator it always pained me when a Subject would not take the extra little bit of effort, or was simply not conscientious enough, to qualify something derogatory. Or on the flip side, when they made a mountain out of a molehill (is there something more to this?). Your statement about how you have learned from your experience is good. It was stupid. Not reckless. Not lack of judgment. Not lack of discretion. Stupid. You learned and moved on. Your language and word choice reveals your state of mind. Don’t be dismissive but don’t be self-flagellating. In either case it comes across as suspicious.

Look, you need to keep things in perspective. In the one case Person A cheats with a married person. This kind of issue has been going on since at least King David’s day. He cheated and impregnated and later killed his paramour’s spouse so he could marry her. Today David is venerated in all three major religions. And the other issue, you are in a rare group of just about every person under the age of 30. In fact this is why iTunes started 15 years ago. iTunes was started because Steve Jobs recognized that lots and lots of people (a big chunk of the 281 million in the U.S. alone) were getting their music from Napster and file sharing sites. Now, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right or legal. But they are doing it. It is a reality in this technological age.

Toby thank you very much.

Assuming that you mean “qualifying something derogatory” as trying to explain some that is questionable? (e.g. “You have a $400 dollar speeding ticket that wasn’t paid, why?” bad answer: I was speeding and got caught and I forgot about it.). good answer: “I was caught speeding, and didn’t have the money to pay for it because there was a bunch of bills due that I was trying to catch up with and would rather pay the penalty instead of losing my house”. This was purely an example. Is this what you were indicating?

Based on King David’s story there is doubt he would have been cleared for a security clearance (kidding obviously).

In the “downloading copyright” information issue Person A could easily see how this would come up. “Have you stolen anything of value? Answer: In a retail store no; however might have obtained copyright material for my personal use”. Obviously this would open up more questions, how often, how much, do you actively and knowingly perform these acts etc. etc." Would you “offer” this type of information? Honestly at that point no matter what you do the agent could simply drill you until something would disqualify you.

In this scenario of the sleeping with the married individual, there isn’t a “who have you slept section” on the form. It asks for your cohabitants but no one lives with Person A in that manner. Even if person A is in a relationship but not living together that would still be left blank (obviously putting that relationship in a different part of the form but you get what I’m saying I think). So how would your “sex life” even come up? Person A realizes that they need to answer the questions asked but would you voluntarily offer that information? If the agent asked something like “Is there anything embarrassing in your past?” “Of course, I’ve XYZ and am ashamed to admit it to anyone”. Would that be a “oh also, in my past i’ve slept with a married woman. It was a stupid mistake and I feel regretful and ashamed of my actions”.

The question is where do you draw the line? If they asked “what have you done wrong ever since you were 18?” the interview would take hours.

Person A is probably over thinking it.

Thanks again.

Toby has provided you all of the advice that is possible. The issues you have described are not required to be disclosed on the SF-86 because there are no questions that ask for that information. Therefore, unless you yourself disclose them during the security interview then they are a mute point. During a poly the interviewer will not ask specifically if you have slept with a married person, and did you actually steal anything? Regardless, even if you were queried on these topics they are not of such concern to prevent you from getting cleared. Follow the advice: stop overthinking!

Marko and Toby.

Thank you very much for your time answering the questions. You are are right definitely overthinking it.

Thank you for your time.

are we done with all this?