Security Clearance Dilemma: The Case of an American-Israeli Joint Citizen

A decision (No. 19-03737) by Administrative Judge Noreen Lynch on May 27, 2022, reviewed a June 1, 2020 Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency denial of a security clearance. The applicant, who is 37 years old, earned a bachelor’s degree of science in mathematics and physics in 2007 and a doctorate in 2018, both from U.S. universities. He worked for various companies in the United States, on a post doctorate fellowship for a federal government agency, and performed research for a U.S. government agency from 2017 to 2018. He has been employed with his current employer since February 2020 and is sponsored for a security clearance. The applicant was born in the United States to U.S. parents who are citizens and residents of the United States, but possess dual citizenship with Israel. When the applicant was nine months old, his parents moved to Israel because they were idealistic in nature, not because they were unhappy with the United States. Thus, the applicant is a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, and has a U.S. passport and an Israeli passport. His family had never lived in Israel prior to that time. The applicant is close to his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who reside in the United States. He returned to the United States in 2011 after being drafted to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from about April 2008 until November 2008. He has no plans to serve in the IDF in the future. During his time in Israel, the applicant enrolled in a two-year master’s program at an Israeli Institute of Technology. He met his wife, an American citizen studying abroad in Israel, and later returned to the United States. The applicant was adamant that he maintains his Israeli citizenship out of emotional and spiritual ties, not because he has a preference for Israel over the United States. His family, along with other American-Jewish persons, are fully devoted to the United States. His last visit to Israel was in 2018. Since 2007, the applicant has been based in the United States. His wife, a cantor in a temple in the United States, does not possess dual citizenship. They own a home in the United States of considerable value and have good salaries. The applicant has investments in the United States worth about $84,000. He provided documentation to prove his assertions. He has one account in Israel with a few hundred dollars. He did not close it, but never invested money in it. Israel charges fees for the account, so he may have a negative balance. He stands to inherit nothing in Israel. Applicant would not have access to Israeli healthcare benefits because he has not paid Israeli taxes for the last ten years. When Applicant completed his September 14, 2016 SCA, and his DOHA interrogatories, he disclosed people who he knew from the IDF. Now, he no longer keeps in contact with them. At the hearing, Applicant related that this narrative is common among American Jews. Although religiously affiliated with Israel, we are no less than fully devoted U.S. citizens. He stated that he has never received encouragement from any companies foreign intelligence or security service companies urging him to engage in industrial espionage. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the substantial discretion the Executive Branch has in regulating access to information pertaining to national security, emphasizing that “no one has a ‘right’ to a security clearance.” The protection of national security is the paramount consideration. Under Directive ¶ E3.1.15, the applicant is responsible for presenting “witnesses and other evidence to rebut, explain, extenuate, or mitigate facts admitted by applicant or proven by Department Counsel.” A person who seeks access to classified information enters into a fiduciary relationship with the Government predicated.