Conviction During Security Clearance Application

Security clearance lawyer Catie Young discusses details of a recent Texas case involving withholding information to get clearance.

It doesn’t pay to lie. Just ask NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams. Or Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.

Luckily for these two tall tale tellers, their lies only result in public humiliation. The lie told by 45-year-old Wissam “Sam” Allouche could land him in prison for up to 10 years. It is likely he will be sentenced on April 27. He is being held without bail.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Antonio arrested Allouche in May 2013 after indicting him on charges of failing to disclose key information while he sought to become a U.S. citizen. He never told authorities that he once belonged to the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Authorities also charged him with failure to disclose his prior membership in those groups when he applied for top security clearance with the Defense Department as he tried to get contract work as a linguist. Additionally, he neglected to tell authorities that he once was held as a prisoner of war by Israel. Current and former relatives testified that Allouche made statements that he subsequently killed an Israeli pilot captured by Hezbollah in retaliation for his imprisonment, according to an FBI press release.

Allouche once worked as a linguist in Iraq, but later encountered difficulty finding work because he was placed on a terror watch list when the FBI began investigating him in 2009, according to Stars and Stripes.

It’s likely that Allouche’s clearance was denied based on Guideline B and/or Guideline C of the U.S. Department of State’s Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, says Catie Young, a security clearance lawyer in San Diego, who is not involved in Allouche’s case.

Guideline B addresses concerns of foreign influence, while Guideline C addresses foreign preference concerns. You can learn more about Guideline B and Guideline C in previous blog posts we’ve written on these topics.

“The security clearance process is something to be taken very seriously, and it doesn’t pay to lie- either outright, or by omission,” Young says. “It’s also worth keeping in mind that every guideline has mitigating circumstances. Just because your past includes something that might cause initial concern, that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be denied clearance.”