Along with foreign preference cases, foreign influence cases are among the more common types of security clearance cases. Among the factors to consider in a foreign influence case are whether the person has family members in a foreign country, whether those family members are subject to coercion by the foreign government or may be held hostage by that government, whether that country is hostile to the United States, the foreign country’s human rights record, the nature of the foreign government as it pertains to its intelligence gathering history, and whether the country is experiencing terrorist activity.
Other factors which are decisive in a foreign influence case are:
- The current geopolitical situation of the country in question and its security/intelligence profile as it pertains to the United States.
- Whether the individual’s loyalty to the foreign person, group, government, or country is so minimal or the individual’s sense of loyalty to the United States runs so deep so as to raise an expectation that any conflict of interest will be resolved in favor of the United States.
The Concern: Foreign contacts and interests may be a security concern if the individual has divided loyalties or foreign financial interests, may be manipulated or induced to help a foreign person, group, organization, or government in a way that is not in U.S. interests, or is vulnerable to pressure or coercion by any foreign interest. Adjudication under this Guideline can and should consider the identity of the foreign country in which the foreign contact or financial interest is located, including, but not limited to, such considerations as whether the foreign country is known to target United States citizens to obtain protected information and/or is associated with a risk of terrorism.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
(a) contact with a foreign family member, business or professional associate, friend, or other person who is a citizen of or resident in a foreign country if that contact creates a heightened risk of foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion;
(b) connections to a foreign person, group, government, or country that create a potential conflict of interest between the individual’s obligation to protect sensitive information or technology and the individual’s desire to help a foreign person, group, or country by providing that information;
(c) counterintelligence information, that may be classified, indicates that the individual’s access to protected information may involve unacceptable risk to national security;
(d) sharing living quarters with a person or persons, regardless of citizenship status, if that relationship creates a heightened risk of foreign inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion;
(e) a substantial business, financial, or property interest in a foreign country, or in any foreign-owned or foreign-operated business, which could subject the individual to heightened risk of foreign influence or exploitation;
(f) failure to report, when required, association with a foreign national;
(g) unauthorized association with a suspected or known agent, associate, or employee of a foreign intelligence service;
(h) indications that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion;
(i) conduct, especially while traveling outside the U.S., which may make the individual vulnerable to exploitation, pressure, or coercion by a foreign person, group, government, or country.
Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:
(a) the nature of the relationships with foreign persons, the country in which these persons are located, or the positions or activities of those persons in that country are such that it is unlikely the individual will be placed in a position of having to choose between the interests of a foreign individual, group, organization, or government and the interests of the U.S.;
(b) there is no conflict of interest, either because the individual’s sense of loyalty or obligation to the foreign person, group, government, or country is so minimal, or the individual has such deep and longstanding relationships and loyalties in the U.S., that the individual can be expected to resolve any conflict of interest in favor of the U.S. interest;
(c) contact or communication with foreign citizens is so casual and infrequent that there is little likelihood that it could create a risk for foreign influence or exploitation;
(d) the foreign contacts and activities are on U.S. Government business or are approved by the cognizant security authority;
(e) the individual has promptly complied with existing agency requirements regarding the reporting of contacts, requests, or threats from persons, groups, or organizations from a foreign country;
(f) the value or routine nature of the foreign business, financial, or property interests is such that they are unlikely to result in a conflict and could not be used effectively to influence, manipulate, or pressure the individual.