Withheld drug use on initial SF-86

I apologize for asking questions that have been asked a million times, I’ve read every post but I’m just trying to find some peace of mind for myself.

While talking to an Air Force recruiter in 2012 (17/18 at the time) it was HEAVILY implied that I’d never done any sort of drug in my past if I wanted to get a BMT slot ASAP (I wasn’t in the best home situation and wanted to leave). This wasn’t exactly true, I had experimented with marijuana 5-7 times during my Junior year of High School, a single pain pill I took from my mom after her back surgery and some kind of ADHD pill one time I got from a friend. I’ve since cut ties with anyone who uses illegal drugs/substances except for my father whom I rarely see and haven’t touched anything in the last 7 years. While filling out my SF-86 I took my recruiters advice and answered NO to all drug related questions. My Secret Clearance went through fine with no issues, I served my 4 years and I was honorably discharged early 2018.

I currently work as an IT contractor for DoD programs where I actively use that Secret clearance, recently I’ve had a job fall in my lap that requires a TS/SCI. The company is willing to begin the process of getting the TS/SCI if I accept their offer.

Here are my questions/concerns:

  • When I re-submit my SF-86 during the process and once again say no to drug use in the past 7 years section “In the last seven (7) years, have you illegally used any drugs or controlled substances? Use of a drug or controlled substance includes injecting, snorting, inhaling, swallowing, experimenting with or otherwise consuming any drug or controlled substance.” will that be an issue? I plan to bring up the initial form and how I withheld my previous drug usage.

  • Worst case scenario I get denied my TS/SCI Clearance and can no longer fill the slot this company needs me for, am I at risk to lose my current Secret clearance and never be able to work with anything requiring a clearance again?

  • I’ve done things like torrent movies and stream shows while I was deployed (this was on an internet service that I paid for and was over 2 years ago and I haven’t done it since), will this get brought up? Do I disclose that somewhere as well?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

You are going to need to speak to the false information on you original SF86. They are pretty well used to recruiters giving the poor advice to young recruits. They have heard it before and will be considered a mitigating factor.

Yes, you ARE risking your current clearance but you are facing a reinvestigation in four year or so anyway so you are going to have to face this issue sooner or later.

Yes, illegal downloads will be an issue even if it was a site that you paid for. It doesn’t matter that it was “over two years ago”, they are going to read that as “only two years ago”.

Does the position require a poly? I suspect that you are going to have a difficult time.



First off, thanks for responding. It’s good to know that investigators are aware of the bad advice recruiters give out. As far as losing my Secret clearance goes, would that be a guarantee if the investigator fails my TS/SCI? Everything I’ve read is that if they cant trust you at a TS level why would they bother trusting you at a lower level, can you speak to that at all? Downloading shows while deployed was a bad decision ill admit it that, but i do have a question on that topic. The country hasn’t out right banned torrenting of any kind, they only throttle the speeds during peak hours. If memory serves you take on the laws of the host nation, by no means is this a scapegoat but would it be a mitigating factor since I’ve never done it on U.S. soil where its illegal? AFAIK the new position does not require a Poly (not a 3 letter agency).

Yes . . . There’s a risk of losing your secret clearance. If it was really “if they can’t trust you at a TS level why would they bother trusting you at a lower level” there would be no difference between a secret clearance and a TS. I believe that they only go after a secret clearance if what was discovered at the TS investigation would have prevented you from getting a secret. But, that CAN be almost anything.

You need to review copyright and other laws as they relate to downloading. “Torrenting” isn’t illegal. It’s what you are downloading that is at issue. Copyright has been agreed to in international treaties and your downloads violate both U.S. and international copyright laws. Also, you did this while “deployed” which means that you are still subject to military law and, very likely, U.S. law. Throttling isn’t a matter of law, it’s a matter of the internet provider your are using not wanting you to suck up bandwidth and slow their other customers.

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Definitely come clean. Yes downloading copyright protected info can be a problem post Snowden. You mentioned drugs in junior year, joined AF, served 4, got out in 2018…but it has been 7 years since last use. Are you now 23, older or younger? A good BI person will pick up on any fudged math. 2014 to 2018 is 4 years…just making sure I understand your numbers. 2012 to 2019…7. Yes to being denied a TS can result in a loss of the Secret clearance as well. IT jobs at the TS level are plentiful My advice would be let this one pass. but as Ed stated your Re-investigation for Secret is at the 9ish year mark so you remain cleared at 10. Either way, be honest with the BI person and form. I see many revocations for falsifying a government document. Age and that it was a recruiter…somewhat can mitigate the issue. Somewhat. But I understand not wanting to speak to drugs in front of mom and dad. More so if the home life was miserable. But having a “secret” like you do (drug use), that can be used to blackmail you. That is the issue at hand. Not that you smoke MJ a handful of times. That it may lead you to make a decision you would not normally make.

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Junior year was in 2011 ( I was 16 at the time ), graduated in 2012 at 17, went into DEP at 18 and started my active duty service in 2014 at 19 years old. Sorry for not including a proper timeline. As far as being honest on the SF-86 the 2nd time around I will be, but I don’t believe there is anywhere that asks if I’ve EVER used any kind of drug only if I have in the last 7 years. How would I reach out to my investigator this next time around? During my first investigation I diddn’t even speak to anyone on the phone. I’ve read horror stories of people who check all the boxes truthfully but end up getting asked / found out that they “lied” on the initial one and never came clean. Ending their career in anything related to a security clearance.

Tracking. Your situation is not unique, nor insurmountable. But it will and should be scrutinized. Honestly, the down loading will be the more important issue. It demonstrates a propensity to not follow the rules. This issue exploded in the 2000’s and now pay services are in place offering an alternative to not paying royalties. It is possible to be denied the upgrade and have a revocation for the Secret. Time and maturity really do mitigate a lot of behavior, mine included. If revoked, you are not eligible to apply for another cleared position for a year. That doesn’t mean you get approved, it means you can apply for clearance. Ethics aside, waiting for the re-investigation and staying where you are gives you more time to continuously prove you overcame that behavior and put more time between you and the events. Including ethics…the correct advice is to report this to the FSO or submit for the TS and properly answer the question and face the music. Either way you choose, when that moment arrives, be prepared and give a full written and verbal disclosure to what occurred. You do get bonus points for coming clean, self reporting, and demonstrating contrition. This does not always mean you retain the cleared position.

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