Security Clearance Attorney Talks Clearance Suspension

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the director of naval intelligence, had his security clearance suspended in November 2013 as an investigation began into his potential misconduct.

Now more than a year later, he has two choices: continue to wait until the investigation is complete, or retain a security clearance attorney and fight to have his clearance reinstated.

“If someone is in a similar situation to Branch and is considering legal means to get their security clearance reinstated, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in this area of law,” says Catie Young. “There are some risks involved, so you want to enter the situation with eyes wide open.”

Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, the director of intelligence operations, are suspected of accepting gifts from representatives of Glenn Defense Marine Asia — the husbanding firm at the center of one of the Navy’s biggest bribery scandals in decades. Husbanding is the term used to describe the services ships receive in port, such as sewage removal and providing transportation to resupply.

Security clearance for Branch and Loveless was pulled while the Justice Department investigated their connections to GDMA and its CEO, Leonard Glenn Francis, “who is accused of bribing Navy officers to steer ships to ports where he allegedly overcharged the Navy in exchange for junkets, prostitutes, even ‘Lion King’ tickets,” according to a USA Today article.

Pushing the security clearance issue in the court system “makes it very hard because if you want to try and fight it, any statements you make could potentially be used against you by the Justice Department,” Greg Rinkey, a civilian defense attorney and former Army JAG, states in the article.

It’s almost always best to give investigators time to complete their investigation, Young says. “But rather than explore your options of getting clearance reinstated while you’re under investigation, it’s infinitely better to avoid being the target of an investigation in the first place.”

As an officer in the Navy, Branch continues to perform his duties to the best of his ability without his clearance while the investigation continues. Continuing to work without a security clearance often is impossible for civilian government employees and contractors. This puts your livelihood in jeopardy.

“Those who have a security clearance are expected to comply with higher standards of conduct,” Young says, “and there are certain life events that you are expected to self-report if there are potential security ramifications.”

Abiding by these expectations can help you avoid being the target of an investigation.

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The process of obtaining security clearance can be lengthy and confusing. If you are pursuing security clearance and would like to consult with an attorney to help you effectively navigate the process, or if you are at risk of losing your clearance, please call our office for a consultation.