View Full Version : Security Clearance?

18 April 2000, 16:07
Several years ago I enlisted in the army for a job requiring a TS clearance. I first had to meet with some NCO from Ft. Meade in a small room and fill out yet another questionnaire. One of my answers re: past drug use raised a flag and the NCO called somebody to ask for a waiver but they said no. My questions are: 1. What happened to the questionnaire, since they never went thru with the investigation, is the paper filed away some where, if so for how long?
2. If I were to try for another MOS or SF requiring TS clearance, would past drug use be held against me again, or does the time factor and clean service record help me? Would appreciate anybody's knowledge of this or similar experiences


18 April 2000, 16:31
If you're investigated by the CIA and you failed, they will keep the records for life. Since the CIA required lie polygraph testing of everyone (applicants, staff, military, etc), they willgenerally shared their results with DSS or others if you applied for a job at DOD or other agencies. But you said it was several years ago, so past use won't raise questions, unless you did every single drug known. For TS, generally, it goes back 15 years or so. If you're applying for SCI, well it goes back from the day you were born to now. Secret goes back 7 years. With the backlog at DSS, don't worry

18 April 2000, 17:02
It was definitely the DSS that would have done the investigation, so did they keep save that questionnaire or destroy it. Also the first questionnaire I filled out, the one that everybody fills out that goes 7 years, I said no drug use, so there is a contradiction betweent the 2 forms, but no one has ever said anything. If I apply for TS again, should I stick to original lie or repeat history of drug use as I did for TS clearance. I am not as conniving as I may sound, but I would really like to get into that field and want to know my chances. p.s. what is "ENAC" clearance? Does my background DQ me from work with CIA?

18 April 2000, 22:17
I took one hit off a joint when i was 15. will that disqualify me for a TS (or any other clearance for that matter)?

19 April 2000, 11:05

Where do you dig up this stuff? I have a TS-SCI, and the investigation only went back 7 years for co-workers, places of residence, and acquaintances. Very few folks in the military have background investigations done by the CIA, either. Its mostly done by the DIS, particularly for the interview, and there is no polygraph administered. This is the same experience for 5 other folks with whom I work, by the way, one of which had the interview last week.

19 April 2000, 12:24

Do you mean that if I wanted a TS clearance but had used marijuana more than 7 years ago, it would NOT be an issue?

If you have only smoked pot once, I do not think it would disqualify you from a TS clearance; I did 7 times and the interviewer called up DSS to try to waiver it but it was too much.

19 April 2000, 12:54
Duster, look at http://www.dss.mil and pull up the security clearance form online. There are 2-3 versions. They asked for drug use within a specific number of years. Sicne you're 15, DSS won't care. But if you use cocaine, heroin, and the other hard drugs (why use them if you want to die?) may be on a case-by-case basic. DEA won't hire you, but some DOD agencies may, depending.

to RAZOR. from me, from families (my brother has a Q clearance and none in my family understand his mumbo-gumbo nuclear technical talk, hehe) and friends. Generally, the CIA, NSA and DIA will have the deeper background check,especially if your job required codeword clearance, for example. The CIA will polygraph military personnel assigned to Langley, but not the NSA, IIRC. Correect me if I'm wrong. And the State Department's security plan is a joke.

to PY, better not use pot. Try something else like more exercise.

19 April 2000, 15:37

I have posted my questions because I am making a serious effort to find out if I will be eligible for TS clearances down the road. I am not a doper, but I don't sit here obsessing about past behavior that can't be changed. Obviously if I were more interested in pot than exercise, the military, etc., I be on some LEGALIZE IT

19 April 2000, 15:41
...website not an SF website. I am here to find information to determing if I should pursue a college curriculum aimed at prepping me for a military career, or if it is lost cause b/c of past history. I have already served 3 years but know that the mos I would want require TS clearances. I'd appreciate any insight you have.

19 April 2000, 15:50
PY- ENTNAC is the ENTrance National Agency Check. It's merely a check of FBI and police records.

19 April 2000, 21:49
Or maybe you're having trouble because they're skeptical about anyone who's ahh...lacking in intellect enough to actually admit to having smoked up a little. A tip for your next life...check the "no" box next to every goddamn question on their silly little security clearance form.

19 April 2000, 23:38

Thanks so much for the ah...brilliant insight, I'll keep that in mind for my next life. Now, if you've got any helpful info. for THIS LIFE, I'd like to hear it, otherwise I'm sure your sarcasm would be appreciated elsewhere...

20 April 2000, 00:59
Hopefully this helps...
I saw several questions from several people and there is a lot of misinformation here. Here are the facts:

Who conducts background investigations for the US Army?

The Defense Security Service (DSS)is mandated by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress to conduct national security background investigations for the US Army INSIDE the CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, ALASKA and HAWAII. Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 97B - Counterintelligence (CI) Special Agent (SA) conducts national security background investigations for the US Army Oversees. Both agencies conduct the investigations the same way. Upon completion of the investigation by DSS the packet is sent to the DSS Operations Center where it is quality checked and then sent to the Central Clearance Facility (CCF) at Fort George G. Meade, MD where it is finally adjudicated. Upon completion of the investigation by CI SA's the packet is sent directly to CCF for adjudication.

What are the types of background investigations?

There are four types conducted for the US Army.

Entrance National Agency Check (ENAC) - The ENAC is conducted for EVERY person who enters the US Army regardless of whether they will be granted a security clearance or not. The ENAC consists of the Background Investigation described below.

Background Investigation (BI) This is a complete background investigation for SECRET clearances and lower, this is also the first step for the next level of BI for a TOP SECRET Clearance consists of National Agency Checks (NAC) and Local Agency Checks (LAC). Basically your fingerprints and information are sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) where a NAC is conducted through the FBI, United States Secret Service (USSS), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and then local police agency records are checked at all places of residence listed on the security questionnaire.

Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI), for TOP SECRET and higher - The SSBI starts with a BI as the first step. If derogatory (DEROG) information is found the assigend agent will develop any and all information related to the DEROG. Once all information is gathered an Issue Subject Interview (ISI) will be held. This is the applicants opportunity to explain, refute, or mitigate the DEROG. If no DEROG is found or minor DEROG is found the investigation will be farmed out to DSS agents closest to the locations where you have resided, in some cases this could be several locations across the country and/or oversees (where it will also be assigned to a CI agent). These agents will go out to your old neighborhoods, places of employment, schools, etc and interview people who had some type of relationship with you. Agents are required to interview at least one neighborhood associate, three social associations, and three professional associations. The interviews must cover the entire scope of the investigation. For example: If the agent interviews three social associates from college, all who knew you from 1993 - 1997, the agent will have to interview at least one who knew you prior to 1993 to the beginning of the scope, etc. So generally the 1, 3, 3, doesn't complete the investigation. Agents will routinely have to interview several people to cover the scope of the investigation. If DEROG information is uncovered during the course the agent will conduct an ISI of the applicant concerning the issue(s). The SSBI has a scope of ten years, or back to your 16th birthday whichever is the shorter period. For instance if you are 22 years old and are undergoing an SSBI the scope will only be six years because at six years the investigation has to go beyond your 16th birthday.

Periodic Reinvestigation (PR), for continuance of security clearance - A PR is conducted every 5 years for personnel holding any security clearance. For personnel holding a SECRET or lower clearance the PR consists of another NAC and LAC. For personnel holding a TOPSECRET or higher clearance the PR consists of a NAC and LAC and complete background investigation as outlined above.

Several other people have talked about SCI, what is it?

SCI stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information, without getting into classified information, SCI is not a level of security classification like CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, or TOPSECRET. SCI consists of several "programs" which exist at both the SECRET and TOPSECRET levels. Classified Codewords are assigned to these programs and any information about, developed from, or through(sources of information) these programs is considered SCI material and will be assigned the codeword. Many pieces of information are developed or about several projects and therefore are assigned several codewords, For example: (This is purely fictional) If the Army had a special satelite in orbit used to take imagery photographs, etc, the satelite would be given a codename like RANGER, certain imagery photos using one of RANGERS technologies would be codenamed SEAL, another piece of information derived from another of RANGERS technologies would be codenamed GREENBERET. So a report with intelligence information derived from the above example would be classified:


The NOFORN stands for Not Releasable to Foriegn Nationals. Usually two pieces of intelligence are generated from every intelligence report One for dissemination to our allies and UN / NATO friends and one that is NOFORN for just US Intelligence Agencies.

The background investigation for SCI is the SSBI, most SCI programs are TOP SECRET but several are SECRET so yes you can have a SECRET Clearance and have access to SCI material for certain programs. Also you are only granted access to the SCI programs required by your duty assignment. You are not granted access to all SCI programs. Very few person are although there are a few hundred.

In order to be granted access to SCI material first you must have a need. Second you must apply for access through your local Special Security Office (SSO) or Special Security Detachment (SSD). All Major Commands and most Army activities have supporting SSO's. After the SCI access is granted you must report to the SSO to be "Read On" Being Read On usually means watching a video and reading a bunch of paperwork concerning the program(s) you are being read on for.

SCI requires extremely strict handling. All SCI material must be handles within a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility called (SCIF). These facilities are high security areas where SCI is handled and stored. Only personnel with the proper clearance can access these areas. When visitors need to go into these areas the area is "Sanitized", meaning all classified and SCI material is stored or hidden from view, hearing, etc.

How does the background investigation start?

The investigation is started after you have been designated either by MOS or position that a security clearance is required. With the assistance of a security manager, S-2 (Intelligence and Security Section) at Brigade or Battalion level, or G-2 at Division or Corps level, an Electronic Personnel Security Questionaire is completed (used to be the DD 398).

The process is outlined in Army Regulation (AR) 380-67 Department of the Army Personnel Security Program.

What happened to previous packets?

If the packet was sent to CCF it will be held for several years (I do not remember the exact period). These files are used to compare against new packets which come in for the same person.

Can I get a copy of my file?

Yes, you can request a copy of your file through the freedom of information act. I believe there is a website that can help you with the process, just use a search engine and search for Freedom of Information Act.

Will smoking a joint seven years ago prevent me from getting a TOP SECRET clearance?

It depends. Tolerances are not set in stone. There are guidlines but what is considered are the "totality of the circumstances". The areas which are really being investigated and evaluated are:


Some youthful indiscretions are usually not a problem at all. With drug use specifically because it is the most common question. The key is experimental versus regular use. Addiction is definately a no go.

Should I just check no on all the boxes?

NO NO NO!!!! The biggest thing that will disqualify you without question is lying on the questionnaire. If you state that you never used drugs and then during the investigation several social associates state that you were a pothead for four years during college, FORGET IT, you will never get a clearance. If you are truthful and explain it, you are much more likely to get the clearance depending on your overall suitability. SO DON'T LIE. If there are small inconsistencies, no big deal, you can't expect everyone to remember every single thing, inconsistencies will happen.

Well, I think I answered everyones questions and provided you with information which is reliable. Good Luck to all of you who deserve a clearance and the hell with the rest of you...LOL

To the best of my knowledge NO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION is contained in the above post. All of the information contained in this post is available through open sources.

[This message has been edited by Swat1 (edited 04-20-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Swat1 (edited 08-04-2000).]

25 April 2000, 15:31
Swat1 pretty much covered it all.

If you have previously submitted paperwork for any type of clearance, and it reached DSS, they will have it on file. From what I can remember, their retention is approximately 15-20 years. I initiated a TS 2 times. The first time it was cancelled after the investigation process began (I was no longer billeted for a TS at the time). The second time was when I actually needed it. A few years later, I was really curious as to what information DSS had in my file. I then requested my packet from them in writing. In a few weeks I received a huge manilla envelope with both packets, credit checks, interview records, etc. You can only receive information on YOURSELF. They did not disclose information about my mother, father, etc. They will only give it to you if you have the specific person's permission in writing.

The biggest factor in getting your clearance is being truthful. Any inconsistencies will raise questions regarding your integrity, resulting in more interviews. I personally do not think you have much to worry about as long as your Marijuana use was only EXPERIMENTAL. If it was not, then I do not believe you are worthy enough to safeguard the National Security interests of this country. **IMPORTANT** It if was, then make sure your S-2 completes a memo regarding your experimental drug use, and submit it with your EPSQ paperwork. If not, DSS will kick it back, and you will have to re-submit it--extremely time consuming.

As far as the new MOS is concerned, you can most likely attend AIT with a SECRET or INTERIM TS, depending on the MOS. However, if you do not get the clearance, it's back to your old MOS..or the needs of the Army. Just remember, there are certain jobs that you cannot get if you have used any form of drugs, even on an expiremental basis--some MI.

Ok, I'm going to add some stuff..I skimmed through this and forgot you didn't pass your waiver when you first enlisted.

Again, Swat1 had it covered. If you're squared away..meaning no UCMJ, no alchohol addiction treatment, no bad credit, you do your job, ect., you can most likely get waivered now that you've been in for a while. They will interview your co-workers, immediate supervior, 1SG, CO, barracks buddies, neighbors, and whoever else claims to know you when the Agent does his interviews (locally). And they obviously will investigate everything else within the past [7-10] years..I won't get into that. Any derogatory information will be investigated further. DSS will then forward your packet to CCF, who will then adjudicate your clearance.

Good luck!

[This message has been edited by NEUMATIK (edited 04-25-2000).]

[This message has been edited by NEUMATIK (edited 04-25-2000).]

26 April 2000, 09:44
Hey, I'd like to know about the credit side of the security clearance. I used to hold a Secret clearance when I was in, but for the position that I'm going into now, I need a Top Secret. I was never a druggie, no criminal record, but I have like the worst credit rating ever. How much is that going to impact the check, and what the hell does me screwing up when I was younger have to do with having a clearance now?

26 April 2000, 11:29

I saw a bunch of fellas going through the TS process for 97B who all had some wicked credit problems. Some quit before they even got adjudicated cuz they knew they wouldn't make it.

That was one of the big issues DSS had, cuz if you have some crazy debt, you are susceptible to being leveraged by foreign nationals offering to pay off your debt in return for info.

I'm sure though it depends on the situation, ie how long ago, circumstances, what you've done since to correct it, etc. There always will be exceptions.

However, sombody said it before... Don't plan on knowing anything as far as adjudication goes any time soon. The DSS is totally short staffed. I've had my paperwork in for over 10 months and I haven't heard boo.

But, I'm sure things change depending on your rank, urgency of the mission etc.

26 April 2000, 15:04
your credit history stayed for 7 years. Check with equinax.com and the other 2 credit reporting services. All three may be different sometimes.
I knew a guy in Norfolk whom the Navy paid off his debts before he was deployed. The problems is the stores outside the bases offering "very good pay plan" or "your bad credit history will be good with us". My advice is don't buy what you need to impress people (car, house, stereo, etc).

4 August 2000, 22:26
Nevermind Sorry

[This message has been edited by Swat1 (edited 08-06-2000).]

6 August 2000, 03:07
Haha. What in the world is a Majestic or a Cosmic security clearance?

11B1P = Janitor, 94-97
97B20 = Paper shredder, 97-present
ROTC Cadet = Future butterbar, present

6 August 2000, 10:30
I've never heard of Majestic, but Cosmic is the NATO equivalent of our TS.

7 August 2000, 12:34
Interesting. I have never received training on that. Thank you.