Personnel Security Hearing (PSH)
Access Authorization Not Restored; Guideline G (Alcohol Consumption)
On January 3, 2023, an Administrative Judge determined that the Individual's access authorization under 10 C.F.R. Part 710 should not be restored. The Individual is employed by a DOE contractor in a position that requires him to hold a security clearance. The Local Security Office (LSO) received derogatory information regarding the Individual's the amount of alcohol the Individual regularly consumed.
After a hearing, the Judge found the Individual did not sufficiently mitigate the security concerns under Guideline G (Alcohol Consumption). The Individual had not abstained from alcohol or reduced her consumption to a level below what the medical community considered risky or heavy drinking. The Individual did not believe her alcohol use was a security concern and did not believe she should have to stop drinking if she had not done anything wrong. The DOE Psychologist opined the Individual had not demonstrated adequate evidence of rehabilitation or reformation. The Administrative Judge found that the Individual had not mitigated the security concerns under Guidelines G and, therefore, her access authorization should not be restored. (OHA Case No. PSH-22-0132, Martin) (OHA Case No. PSH-22-0132, Martin)
Access Authorization Not Restored; Guideline E (Personal Conduct) & Guideline I (Psychological Conditions)
On January 4, 2023, an Administrative Judge determined that an Individual's access authorization should not be restored under 10 C.F.R. Part 710. Prior to being granted access authorization, the Individual completed a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (QNSP) in which she failed to disclose that she had previously been hospitalized following a suicide attempt and had a history of suicidal ideation. The Individual also failed to volunteer this information during an interview with an investigator. In 2021, after being granted access authorization, the Individual was hospitalized for five days after threatening suicide. A DOE-contracted Psychologist (DOE Psychologist) conducted a clinical interview of the Individual and determined that she met sufficient diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition. The DOE Psychologist recommended that the Individual undergo treatment with a clinician "trained and experienced in dialectical behavior therapy" supported by medication for anxiety. At the hearing, the Individual testified that she had been undergoing counseling for several months and had been prescribed medication that moderated her symptoms. The DOE Psychologist opined that the Individual's self-described treatment was not of sufficient duration or frequency to manage her Borderline Personality Disorder and that it was highly probable that she would experience symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder that could compromise her trustworthiness and reliability in the future. In light of the Individual's lack of candor in the investigative process and the DOE Psychologist's poor prognosis for the Individual's recovery, the Administrative Judge determined that the Individual had not resolved the security concerns. Therefore, the Administrative Judge determined that the Individual's access authorization should not be restored. OHA Case No. PSH-23- 0001 (Phillip Harmonick)
Access Authorization Restored; Bond Amendment, Guideline E (Sexual Behavior), Guideline G (Alcohol Consumption), Guideline E (Personal Conduct), Guideline H (Drug Involvement), Guideline I (Psychological Conditions), and J (Criminal Conduct)
On January 6, 2023, an Administrative Judge determined that an Individual's access authorization under 10 C.F.R. Part 710 should be restored. The Individual is employed as a DOE contractor in a position that requires him to hold a DOE security clearance. On November 16, 2021, the Individual self-reported to the Local Security Office (LSO) that from August 2021 to November 2021, he smoked Methamphetamine (meth) after experiencing "some intense personal stress," and subsequently enrolled in an outpatient drug treatment program. The Individual's meth use was prompted by an incident in August 2021 where the Individual had been sexually assaulted.
The LSO subsequently issued a Letter of Interrogatory to the Individual. Based upon his responses, the LSO directed that the Individual be examined by a DOE -Contractor Psychologist. The DOE Psychologist's report, The Report indicated the DOE Psychologist determined that the Individual met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria for " Stimulant Use Disorder (methamphetamine), Mild, in Early Remission." The Report also indicated the Individual displayed a "myriad of symptoms" found in several psychological diagnoses during his clinical interview: Unspecified Dissociative Disorder; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Unspecified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder; and Insomnia Disorder. The DOE Psychologist opined in her report that the Individual's "most serious" symptoms were "dissociative episodes (when time passes and he is unsure of what occurred; when he 'spaces out' )," his " continuing to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors," and his "manifestations of poor reality testing and possible psychotic symptoms (e.g., hallucinations, delusions)."
The Individual presented testimony from his treating Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) therapist along with an occupational therapist regarding his treatment program and his current psychological health. The Individual's IOP Therapist testified that the Individual initially engaged in intensive outpatient therapy five days a week for three hours a day. He stated he was the Individual's primary therapist at the IOP and met with the Individual once a week and that the Individual successfully completed the IOP in February 2022. In his testimony, the IOP Therapist opined that the Individual has "progressed considerably" through therapy. Regarding the Individual's stimulant use disorder, the IOP Therapist opined that the Individual does not, currently, have a stimulant use disorder. He stated the IOP requires "total abstinence" from drugs and alcohol while participating in the program and usually employs random drug testing. He stated he did not see any evidence the Individual underwent drug testing at the IOP, and if the Individual had been presenting as a risk of using, that would have been absolutely something that would have occurred. The IOP Therapist also opined the Individual's prognosis for avoiding future substance use was excellent. With regard to the other possible signs of psychological illnesses that had been observed, the IOP Therapist stated they were being treated satisfactorily or not present.
The DOE Psychologist testified that at the time of the evaluation, the Individual displayed a "broad spectrum of symptoms, some of them quite serious and quite concerning, in the direction of psychotic symptoms." However, in her testimony, she testified as to her opinion that the symptoms "were induced by the [the Individual's use of] methamphetamine." The DOE Psychologist opined that the Individual "has done as much as and more than I noted in my report would be necessary" to demonstrate rehabilitation or reformation from the stimulant use disorder. She agreed with the IOP Therapist in finding that abuse of drugs was not in the Individual's "nature" and that the Individual did not "have a propensity to abuse drugs." Further supporting her opinion, she noted that the Individual's meth use was "circumscribed" over the course of three months.
Regarding the concerns related to the Individual's high -risk sexual behavior, the DOE Psychologist noted the Individual testified that he "changed his ways [using telephone apps to meet with strangers] about that." She also stated that, during her clinical interview with the Individual, he "didn't really have any real friends" and interacted with other via the internet, but now he has a very supportive family and "genuine, in-person relationships that he [can] trust."
Regarding the Bond Amendment, the Administrative Judge found that the evidence established that the Individual is not an unlawful user, or an addict, of a controlled substance, and that the Bond Amendment does not bar the Individual from holding a security clearance.
As for the remaining Guideline G, E, H, I and J security concerns, the Administrative Judge found the Individual's and the medical experts' testimony convincing and that for each security concern, one or mitigating factors were applicable. Based on the testimony of all witnesses and the evidence submitted, the Administrative Judge concluded found the Guidelines G, E, H, I and J security concerns had been resolved and that the Individual's access authorization should be restored. (OHA Case No. PSH-22-0134, Cronin)