SF86 Drug Sale / Handling Question

I appreciate the advice and the kind words from you and others that have contributed over the last five months. Clearly I’ve made some mistakes and will be learning a hard lesson as a result, but I am confident in who I am and that this is a temporary setback rather than a permanent change of course. Thanks again to all - I agree that my energy is probably better spent finding a new opportunity than a long shot and costly appeal.

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Thor, once again your comments are not helpful or realistic, and completely lacking of any nuance. Everyone has issues, but it is also true that some positions are well suited to specific candidates and there is not an abundance of expertise in certain areas that the government is in desperate need of. For internships, perhaps there are many candidates, but in the civil service this is not always the case. We all know government jobs do not pay as well as their private sector counterparts, particularly in STEM fields, and strictly barring anyone with drug use within whatever your allotted time frame is from government service when they are not, in any reasonable assessment, a “security risk,” does no service to the government or it’s security interests. Yes, we need guidelines, and I agree that being involved in the transfer of narcotics less than a year ago is clearly a serious issue, but is someone who used marijuana six months ago in a state or jurisdiction that had legalized it, and was not aware of the difference between federal and state laws, truly a significant security risk? My point is that these decisions require nuance, both by law and for the practicalities of filling critical positions in our government, and making broad statements based on limited evidence does not help anyone (side note: given that Norse mythology and, specifically, Thor’s Hammer have been appropriated by white nationalists in recent years, you might consider the risks of jumping to conclusions based on limited information).

Further, we have due process rights for a reason. Are you really suggesting there shouldn’t be an appeal process available for clearance denials, even when there is ample evidence from these forums, DOHA records, and other sources that mistakes are often made and mitigating factors often ignored? Fortunately, DOHA appeal records make clear that those who actually have the authority to rule on appeals still believe in the “whole person” approach, and mostly care about nuance and circumstance.

While I agree with your post, on the whole, I have to say that the person you describe here IS a risk. Poor judgement and acting without sufficient thought to the consequences IS a risk factor.

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I agree it is a risk factor, and I understand why FSOs and others might not want to bother with an applicant with such a recent red flag, but when these cases go to DOHA and there is sufficient contrition and no other aggravating factors, it appears they have a decent chance of a favorable outcome for the appellant (and especially so with a lawyer).

But yes, broader point: I received a lot of value from your input and that of @amberbunny over the last 10 months or so, but at the same time I was discouraged to post by some others who seem to enjoy just rubbing salt in the wounds of those who are dealing with a significant professional challenge. I think the record shows that the majority of people coming here for advice after receiving an adverse decision take responsibility for their actions and are not trying to scam their way through an appeal, etc. And even those who might not be at that stage yet still deserve a bit of empathy along with the real talk.

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I wish you well. we do try to give the best advice our experience lends itself to. At times I respond stupidly, missing the point, and one of the posters brings me back to the main idea. Hang in there, it is survivable. However any dithering…or appearance of dithering…does not bode well. Hence, we often ask for clarification or point out a person is throwing up a bit too much woulda, coulda shoulda, how bouta…type reasons for bad choices. Generally speaking if you step up, own the bad behavior, turn over a new leaf and put time between yourself and the event, most can be overcome. Particularly youthful indiscretion in the use of MJ. I do believe everyone ought push back and own bad conduct, but speak to the positive changes since. You never know…they may take the chance and be rewarded with a super intern. Keep us posted on how this develops.

@amberbunny thanks! I made it through and have my clearance (thanks again for the help)… just empathizing with OP here. I just think that, if the goal is to get people to participate in this forum, then comments like Thor’s above are not helpful. They don’t add to the conversation in a meaningful way and discourage people from reaching out.


I am sorry you think my comments are not helpful. If there is evidence a mistake was made, yes, it can and should be appealed (like the wrong record was used). However, there are too many people who have clean records to deal with problem candidates. Drugs are illegal at the federal level (and should be at the state level) and EVERYONE knows that. People use the ignorance card to get away with it.

And no, not everyone has issues. I know many, many people who have clean records. You have your opinion, and I have mine. I care about the security of America, and people with questionable issues and pasts can work elsewhere.

You are correct. Unfortunately, you have people that have thought processes that lean toward “clean records only”… hence the need for the “whole person” review. I can list a few people I know with “clean records” that wouldn’t necessarily have that if not for: connections, gender, or ethnic makeup. There is a stigma from breaking the law, but mens rea should play a factor. I can tell you, I was/am treated better by people in law enforcement than the average joe that finds out about my felony…and its because they know the system and the average person doesn’t.

The truth of the matter is that most people will never have to deal with a system that isn’t fair, and that’s ok for them, but its something some people HAVE to wade through. In my case, committing fraud, is a strict liability tort, regardless of the mitigating circumstances. The AG was very aggressive and rude to me… anyway the judge found it unfair to sentence me to 7-9 years, and questioned why I was even charged so harshly, and sentenced me to 2 years. things happen in life, some people are lucky to never experience this reality. Trust me, if you met me, you would never know I had as much as a parking ticket, than have done federal time.

Bottom line is make a mistake, just own it. Not everybody is going to respond in kind and you know who you are as a person. Be the best you can be, and carry forward.

Good luck to all and congratulations Harry.


I’m just curious, if everyone was denied a clearance that has ever drank to excess, or used prescribed meds more often then they should have (every vet and person in pain), or been a nicotine addict, or a excessive awful food addict, or had any type of personality disorder like neurosis, would there be anyone left with a clearance? Those conditions describe many if not most people who have clearances

Drinking to excess once does not describe a pattern of behavior. Over use of prescribed meds sounds like a pattern and is looked at more seriously. Smoking is legal, as is food.

What they are mostly looking for is people with a pattern of breaking the law and who have addictions which could set them up for extortion. They aren’t looking to disqualify everyone who has binged one night on alcohol, but they are interested in disqualifying alcoholics.

@Santa . . . Yes, if those conditions that you describe blocked applicants there would be few cleared personnel. But, they don’t and nobody (well . . . there might be one or two members here) suggests that they should.

@danorrou . . . Why does everybody think that extortion or blackmail are the primary blocker for someone with DUIs or drug use? The biggest problem for those attempting to gain a clearance is a pattern of not following the rules or a pattern of poor judgement.

Look at the history of security breaches. Few involve extortion. Many are plied with money and many are motivated by disagreement with the actions of their country. Both of these reasons come down to not following rules and/or poor judgement.

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People can say or feel what they want about me. I have a very clean record, zero issues. I don’t drink, have never seen drugs, don’t know what a jail looks like or the inside of a police car. I know more people like me than people who have issues. And this had nothing to do with my skin color, who I know or my family. I simply follow the rules and regulations and laws. Pretty simple concept.

And I am a vet, in pain all them time and I have never taken more pain meds than prescribed. We only see and here about the people with issues in forums, the people without issues are happily enjoying their jobs.

The only thing that I’ve said about you is that you are wrong on this point. You know more people like you than you do people who have issues? I seriously doubt that this is true but I understand why you believe it.

There are few places where people air their issues although this forum is one place where that often happens. You probably don’t know about the guy two seats over from you with two DUIs from the 90’s or the woman on the other side who smoked piles of weed during college. You don’t know who in your office had anger problems 15 years ago that resulted in a domestic violence charge. You don’t know about the manager who still goes to AA meetings despite being clean for the last five years.

It’s simply arrogant to not understand that crap happens to people and that the important thing is how you react and what you have done since. Listen to the investigators that post on this site . . . Ask them how many applicants have “no issues” . . . .


I have said all along I agree time should be the only factor that allows individuals to get cleared that have issues.

My position in the military allowed me to know why too much information about the individuals in my unit. And I saw clearances pulled as the people were shown the door who broke the rules.

You can believe what you want and I can believe what I want. I am not arrogant. People with issues should not have clearances if we want to minimize issues and problems.

Not going to argue this with you anymore. We are on 2 different sides of the issue and neither will change the others mind.

"I agree that time should be the only factor that allow individuals to get cleared . . . "

It’s fine and good for you to think that but it makes no difference. The Adjudicative Guidelines list many other mitigating factors for every issue listed in the document. Since we are here in the real world trying to help those who want to get cleared, we deal with the mitigating factors that are actually used instead of our own beliefs.

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