Problem with References


I am thinking about accepting an offer from a firm that requires a security clearance. It’s just a secret as far as I can tell. 25 or so years ago I had an SAR. The presumption is that I will be terminated if there is an SOR. And I am older.

SInce the headhunter wont stop texting me, there is a certain sense of urgency…so I’m going to be quite open.

Here’s my problem. I don’t have any colleagues who are aware of my activities outside my workplace. In the intervening 20 years after the SAR expired, I developed treatment resistant major depression, unipolar, non-psychotic. I don’t like to leave the house. I avoid people and relationships on a personal level, but do well on a professional level. Going to a Meetup is a major accomplishment.

The doc is going to confirm no impairment. I am going to write the release letter and note it on the form.
I never had any interaction with the police, I was never fired or criticized for “getting along with people” problems, never took substances, don’t drink, never refused a prescription, got nothing less than average or strong performance reviews, just have few close friends at work, and held on to a six figure job.

I have had the same internet friends for over three years…we have shared real names and addresses (all thousands of miles apart) but have never met. They know about my medical problems and are OK talking to an investigator.

I need an unvarnished opinion about the likelihood of an SOR for not having character references outside of work but for reasons which are medical.



Generally social references are not required when conducting a BI for a Secret clearance. Just make sure you fully report the situation on the security form (SF-86) and during the Subject Interview. Good luck.


The likelihood is zero.


You will need 3 character references but they can be work associates. As long as the three add up to knowing you for 10 years minimum…you meet the requirement. I have had clearance folks call and ask for three people in one general local area. Mainly to have one investigator close it out. For a secret BI they may never contact the references. As for mental health concerns…if all controlled and you are functioning as it clearly seems you are…no worries. Disclose the counseling and treatment. As an Introvert I have no trouble being professionally Extroverted in my professional capacity but I too have a very small circle of friends and activities. I am content to stay home, read or camp with my dog. Again, that aspect of living life on your terms is not a clearance issue.


The real danger comes when investigators speak with individuals (usually those not listed as references) who are willing to gratuitously provide derogatory information about the applicant. These “developed informants” can and often will provide enough derogatory information to derail any chance of earning a security clearance (even for applicants with unblemished credit and police records).


Well, the basic worry was that there are no people other than colleagues “to develop” and the investigation could not go forward. But I see alot of good information here

Thanks everyone for the information!


The investigation expands to gather additional information from other sources when derogatory information is developed that will impact your adjudication.


Sadly saw this happen to a person transitioning from law enforcement to OSI Office of Special Investigations in the Air Force. He did not receive his credentials…was returned to his career field in the “we don’t have enough to verify you did bad things…but we are sure enough we don’t want you.” He spent the next 10 years using FOIA requests trying to better understand what happened. And he was quite bitter understandably so. Turns out a subordinate he gave a bad eval to spun quite a tale. It could not be verified but it was enough to tip the scales against him. Nothing he could do.


Wow… that’s ALL it takes?


It can be all it takes if it calls into question your judgement. If nothing can be substantiated…it can also be deemed not credible. But if it creates enough doubt…the investigator has to report it forward for adjudication.


That’s a scary thought.


This situation virtually parallels my own. In my case, I was able to obtain the relevant information through a Privacy Act request, which provided sufficient explanation of the reasons for my application(s) repeatedly becoming derailed.

You are correct that there is nothing that can be done in his, my, and doubtlessly countless others’ experiences. In my case, I actually attempted to explore the possibility of prosecution of the individuals involved, but this could not be achieved through either the agency itself, the US Attorney’s Office, nor the FBI.

Applicants should be afforded an opportunity to respond to any derogatory information provided by “developed” informants. This is, of course, not generally the practice.


From personal experience, I can confirm the fact that this is indeed ALL that it takes!


It is indeed very scary.

It reduces the whole security clearance adjudicatory process to little more than a popularity contest.


did you eventually clear or are you still in limbo waiting? I would imagine a rejection, SOR and an appeal is the only route one can take to refute info. I think generally speaking everyone is savvy enough to understand ex spouses can give emotionally charged comments or a past subordinate you gave a low eval on may have reasons to hype a complaint. That said working in a military prison years ago I knew of a prisoner who refused to accept responsibility for awful allegations concerning sexual abuse of a minor child. This resulted in multiple denials of parole. After 5 years…his entire case gets overturned…found innocent…after the initial guilty finding base don a scorned ex spouse. Poor guy “lost” his son over this who grew up believing dad did horrible things. Medical records showed the opposite of what was initially stated in court…thereby indicating the child was not violated in the manner charged…all based on the emotionally charged claims of his spouse as they went through an acrimonious divorce. That prisoner walked out the front door, regained his rank and then retired with a big settlement…but nothing can repay a person for living that nightmare.


No . . . It’s NOT a popularity contest. It may not be perfect and some may get screwed by the process but you don’t have a right to a clearance. In some cases, information may be deemed questionable but serious enough that the applicant will be rejected.

Remember, it must be shown that “it is clearly in the interest of national security to grant the applicant access to classified material.” That is the standard we are held to. All of us.


Mr. ED considering the way you were treated and what you went through to retain your clearance, I am surprised at your responses about these things. I would expect the opposite from you. It’s almost like your on the side of this messed up clearance fiasco.



No . . . I understand the need, recognize the risks and admit to the difficulties. That’s not a defense and I certainly think that there is a need for improvement in the process. Many who are going through this process do not yet understand what it is they are asking for. An SF86 isn’t a job application. It’s a request to be allow to access information that, if not properly handled, could result in severe damage to our national security.

I take it very seriously. In my opinion, those who do not understand this or who fail to understand the importance, should not be receiving a clearance.

I’m also an adult. I don’t think that something is wrong just because it cause ME some trouble.


I got Derogatory feedback from my ex wife. is there any way to appeal this? I had a clearance for years as an officer in the army then tried with my civilian side and got denied/interim suspended because of the Derogatory information. Is there a lawyer or someone cause that would be able to get this straightened out, or sue for liable? I had a restraining order and am still owed money but this hurts the most, costing me my job future I could have.


An interim denial isn’t the same as a denial and there is little that you can do. The reason for the interim denial isn’t that they believe your wife but that the information has to be looked at and then a determination made. With the little information that you provided I suspect that you will be approved eventually. You just need to wait and see what they do.