The U.S. soldier charged March 23 with murdering 17 Afghan civilians has a national security clearance even though he has a questionable past for someone receiving such a clearance, according to Bloomberg. Robert Bales has had numerous financial difficulties and brushes with the law.
Bales, a U.S. Army staff sergeant, had a clearance level of Secret. The three grades of security clearance are: Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. While Bales held only a mid-level security clearance, he may have had access to classified information that could result in “serious damage” to national security, according to two military officials knowledgeable about the clearance program.
Approximately 90 percent of active-duty military employees in Afghanistan and Iraq have a security clearance, according to Even Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com. The website pairs those who have security clearance with employers seeking new personnel.
Bales’ troubled past includes a 2002 arrest for assaulting a woman. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. A 2008 drunken fight with a woman and her boyfriend was on police records, but he was not charged with a crime.
Bales stole over $600,000 from an Ohio couple when he acted as their stockbroker, according to the records of an industry group, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. He had to repay the couple over $1.3 million in damages.
He and his wife Karilyn had mortgage problems, which are not in and of themselves a danger signal against those seeking clearance. But, according to a Defense Department email received by Bloomberg, the military closely screens those with financial issues.
“A person with big debts is more likely to accept money in exchange for secrets,” the email said.
The Defense Department spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel James Gregory, added that when considering a person for clearance status, the military considers the “whole person,” his or her past and present behavior, the circumstances of any misconduct and how recent it was. Also considered is whether the person was rehabilitated or made “positive behavioral changes.”
If you are seeking a national security clearance and need help from a qualified national security clearance lawyer, an attorney from The Edmunds Law Firm can help.