Category: Archive

Dwyer flanks Pentagon in passport battle

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

He is still denied security clearance at the Pentagon, but Will Dwyer is battering the gates with his Irish passport. And his American one too.

But while the American document is a key, the Irish one is proving to be a dead bolt. Still, Dwyer is not discouraged.

“I will persist to the last ditch. I will fight it as far as need be,” Dwyer, communication’s director for the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, told the Echo this week.

Dwyer’s Irish is up due to a decision by the Defense Department’s Washington Headquarters Services office to refuse him “personnel security clearance” because he holds dual citizenship.

In a letter to Dwyer, the Department of Defense said that it was “in receipt of information that you maintain dual citizenship with the United States and Ireland and hold an Irish passport.”

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During an interview with a Defense Security Service investigator, Dwyer had revealed that he had obtained an Irish passport in accordance with the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1956. He had qualified for the document as a result of having an Irish grandparent.

The Department of Defense reaction was to deny Dwyer security clearance. The letter – which was confidential by virtue of the Privacy Act until Dwyer waived the privilege – explained why: “Although dual citizenship in and of itself does not indicate any impairment of loyalty or trustworthiness, the DoD Regulation 5200.2-R, Department of Defense Personnel Security Program, cites that the exercise of dual citizenship, including possession and/or the use of a foreign passport in preference to a U.S. passport, as a disqualifying factor for denial/revocation of a Department of Defense personnel security clearance.

“While your interest in your Irish heritage is understandable,” the letter continued, “to mitigate the disqualifying factor regarding the exercise of your dual citizenship through the possession/use of your Irish passport, your passport will have to be officially relinquished to the Government of Ireland. This office requires documentary proof of relinquishment.”

The letter concluded that upon receipt of proof of relinquishment, the Washington Headquarters Services office would finalize the processing of Dwyer’s security clearance.

Dwyer, a lawyer by profession, is having none of it and fired off a letter of protest to the Director of Washington Headquarters Services, David O. Cooke.

Dwyer believes that the letter to him actually identifies the weakness in the Defense Department’s position. The letter implies that Dwyer be disqualified for possession or use of a passport “in preference” to a U.S. passport.

According to Dwyer, he does not possess his Irish passport in preference to his U.S. one, and, more important, he does not use his Irish passport at all.

“I hope we will be able to show that the Defense Department has erred on this. And of course to err is human,” Dwyer said.

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