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Summary of Decisions - February 25, 2013 – March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013 - 3:23pm


Personnel Security Hearing (10 CFR Part 710)

On March 1, 2013, a Hearing Officer determined that an individual’s security clearance should not be restored. In reaching this determination, the Hearing Officer found that the individual had not successfully addressed the DOE’s security concerns regarding his marriage to a former citizen of a sensitive country, his large number of foreign contacts, and his extended trips to that sensitive country.  Although the Hearing Officer concluded that many of the contacts were casual and that the individual had not demonstrated any behavior that was not in the best interests of national security, these factors were outweighed by the counterintelligence concerns, the degree of the individual’s potential exposure to intelligence services of the sensitive country, and the manner in which the individual met his wife (through an internet site designed to facilitate marriages between women in the sensitive country and foreign men). OHA Case No. PSH-12-0117 (Robert B. Palmer, H.O.)

On March 1, 2013, an OHA Hearing Officer issued a decision in which he determined that the DOE should not restore an individual’s access authorization.  As security concerns, a Local Security Office (LSO) cited the individual’s history of criminal conduct and the report of a DOE Psychologist, in which he identified tendencies of poor judgment and reliability in the individual as a mental condition that causes a significant defect in his judgment and reliability.  The Hearing Officer found that the individual had not resolved the concern raised by the opinion of the DOE Psychologist, which was based in part on the individual’s failure to report past criminal activity on Questionnaires for National Security Positions (QNSPs).  The Hearing Officer further found that the individual had not resolved the concerns raised by a longstanding pattern of criminal conduct, including ten incidents in the last twenty years and eight in the last ten years, and a charge of aggravated driving while intoxicated less than one year ago.  OHA Case No. PSH-12-0136 (Steven J. Goering, H.O.)

Freedom of Information Act Appeals

On February 25, 2013, OHA issued a decision granting in part an FOIA Appeal filed by Jeffrey T. Richelson from a determination issued by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  Mr. Richelson had requested specified chapters of a DOE report dating from 1981. In a December 3, 2010, determination, NNSA withheld portions of the responsive material on the basis of Exemption 1.  Although NNSA did not itself identify any information that needed protection, the Air Force, which also reviewed the requested material, determined that portions of the requested chapters contained information protected under Exemption 1 from its perspective.  Because Exemption 1 protects from disclosure information that is properly classified under criteria established in an Executive Order, we referred this Appeal to the Office of Health, Safety and Security, the office which is responsible for reviewing the classification of information. That Office confirmed that, from the DOE’s perspective, no information should be withheld pursuant to Exemption 1.  The Appeal was therefore forwarded to the Air Force for an appellate determination whether any of the previously withheld material may now be released to Mr. Richelson.  OHA Case No. TFC-0010

On February 25, 2013, OHA denied a FOIA Appeal filed by the Torres Consulting & Law Group, LLC, (Appellant) of a determination issued by the DOE Loan Guarantee Program Office (LGPO).  The Appellant challenged the withholding under Exemption 4 of the FOIA of the rate of pay and the total hours worked, both daily and weekly, from the released document.  OHA found that release of that information would cause substantial competitive harm to the submitters of the information, and therefore, it was properly withheld under Exemption 4.  OHA Case No. FIA-13-0004