USG Employee’s Security Clearance Revoked Because His US Citizen Wife Went to an Islamic School?

US-NationalGeospatialIntelligenceAgency-OrigSealImage via WikipediaU.S. Citizen Mahmoud M. Hegab worked as a budget analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) until last year when his Top Secret/SCI security clearance was suddenly revoked. The revocation of his clearance was apparently due to the fact that his newlywed wife who is a U.S. citizen had graduated from an Islamic school located in the D.C. area. Also that she had participated in an ‘anti-war occupation protest in Washington’” on the grounds of the Washington monument, and that she had engaged in pro-Palestinian political activity while a student at George Mason University.

The wife had since graduated from GMU. And if the anti-war protest happened outside of Washington, would it have made a difference?

Last week Mr. Hegab filed a lawsuit against the NGA seeking reinstatement of his clearance. Mr. Hegab’s complaint includes a rebuttal of the allegations against his wife.

Am I the only one who find this something out of the twilight zone? This is the United States of America. And here is a U.S. citizen forced to go to court to defend himself against “allegations” against his wife?

Quick excerpts from the court filing (h/t to Secrecy News):

5. Mahmoud M. Hegab, plaintiff, is a United States citizen who was employed by defendant, NGA.

8. Plaintiff was employed by NGA on January 4, 2010 in the position of Financial/Budget Analyst.

9. During plaintiff’s employment by NGA, he held a Top Secret security clearance and Access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). There were no problems with plaintiff’s employment and his performance was well regarded by his supervisors.

11. Bushra Nusairat is an American citizen, who at the time of her marriage to plaintiff was residing in Fairfax County, Virginia, and who has continued to reside in Fairfax County Virginia with plaintiff since their marriage.

12. By memorandum dated November 2, 2010, which plaintiff received on November 18, 2010, NGA notified plaintiff of its intent to revoke his security clearance and his access to classified information. The proposed revocation was based in part, on his marriage to Ms. Nusarait, and in part on information previously disclosed by plaintiff as part of his security clearance investigation in 2009 which had been reviewed, discussed and cleared by NGA prior to his being hired and being granted a security clearance by NGA.

24. With respect to his wife, Ms. Nusairat, plaintiff responded that his wife “is a U.S. citizen residing in the U.S. who has never been accused of any illegal activity or being associated with any illegal activity.”

35. NGA’s decision did not resolve all issues. It further continued:

However, the information provided does not mitigate your
spouse’s current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin and/or the advocacy of or involvement in foreign political issues. This concern elevates the potential for conflicts of interest between your obligation to protect sensitive or classified United States information and technology and your desire to help a foreign person, group, or country by providing that information. (Emphasis added).

53. Plaintiff renewed his argument that his wife’s employment by Islamic Relief USA did not constitute a security risk, that the action taken was solely due to the anti-Islamic bias of NGA’s security personnel, and that the revocation of Plaintiff’s security clearance and access was in violation of his constitutional rights and privileges.

Read the complaint in full here.

Peter Van Buren Gets Profiled in NYT: You’re Now Really Toasts, Dude!

Remember that reminder in your A-100 class about not ending up on the pages of the Washington Post? There’s a reason for it. Just about everybody reads WaPo; an appearance there is like seeing your career flashed before your eyes.

So far, except for a recent triple showing in Foreign Policy, published by the Slate Group, a division of the Washington Post, Peter Van Buren has managed to avoid landing on the pages of the hometown newspaper.  Or perhaps I should say, the hometown newspaper has so far managed to avoid covering him and his book. That’s good, right?

Except that he just got profiled in Saturday’s New York Times. Not so good. Plus, whatdayaknow, the NYT writer actually identified the Green Grass Ambassador. Oh dear, lord, this is not/not good. Anytime now, we’ll have follow up news about the real story about that sod trucked in from Kuwait.

All I can say is expeditionary diplomacy does not/not really require green grass. But dammit, did he have to include that in the book?! It makes folks look sort of bad in bright lights: the guy who ordered the sod, and the folks who were just following orders and procured the sod, laid the sod and watered it night and day. No one hit the pause button and said, “Wait a minute, isn’t $2 million worth of sod a tad too much?” If somebody did the honorable thing and resigned over the darn sod to green the embassy, we did not get the press statement on that.

Below is an excerpt from NYT’s U.S. Envoy Puts Match to Bridges With Iraq Tell-All: 

Ample ink has been expended on the war, defending it, attacking it or just trying to understand it. What makes Mr. Van Buren’s account so striking is its gleeful violation of the spirit — and perhaps the letter — of the written and unwritten code of America’s diplomatic corps.
In anything but diplomatic language, he skewers the Army’s commanders and the Iraqis, the embassy, its staff, and even its ambassador at the time, Christopher R. Hill, though not by name. He takes sarcastic aim at the ambassador’s Sisyphean effort to grow a lawn in the sprawling embassy compound beside the Tigris River.
The book and the publicity surrounding it — including an Op-Ed article by him in this newspaper — have infuriated Mr. Van Buren’s colleagues. To them, he has betrayed his loyalty to the well-traveled, multilingual, highly educated professional cadre that is the Foreign Service.
“If you feel that strongly about policies you feel are misguided and harmful, you do the honorable thing and resign before tearing your colleagues apart in public,” said a diplomat who served in Iraq, speaking, as is more typically the case, on the condition of anonymity.
Mr. Van Buren’s most serious accusations involve the waste of money spent on the reconstruction, $63 billion and counting. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) has chronicled numerous abuses amounting to billions of dollars, but Mr. Van Buren’s account abounds with the granularity of projects too small for Sigir to bother with.
As the Foreign Service requires, Mr. Van Buren submitted his manuscript for review in September 2010, shortly after he returned from Iraq. The rules state that the review must be completed within 30 days. When he heard nothing, he took that as assent.
A State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the issue is a personnel matter, said the department had in fact begun discussions with Mr. Van Buren over the book’s contents, though belatedly. Publishing without awaiting the required review amounted to a violation, the official said. It is not clear what further action, if any, the department intends to take.

Read in full here.

Separately, the State Department told that it would not comment on “whether or not there is an investigation underway.”


Senate Confirms Frank Ricciardone as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey

On October 04, 2011, the Senate confirmed the nomination of U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Frank Ricciardone, Jr..

Francis Joseph Ricciardone, Jr., of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior  Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Turkey, to which position he was appointed during the recess of the Senate from December 22, 2010, to January 5, 2011.

That leaves the nominations of three ambassadors on recess appointments still up on the air: Ambassador Eisen in Prague, Ambassador Bryza in Baku, and Ambassador Aponte in San Salvador.