Clearance Lost Due to Anti-Islamic Prejudice, Lawsuit Says

10.06.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Mahmoud M. Hegab was a well-regarded budget analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) until last year when his Top Secret/SCI security clearance was abruptly revoked.

Among the issues precipitating his loss of clearance were the fact that his newlywed wife had graduated from an Islamic school, that she had participated in an anti-war protest, and that she had engaged in pro-Palestinian political activity while a student at George Mason University.

This week Mr. Hegab filed a lawsuit against the NGA seeking reinstatement of his clearance.

“The revocation of plaintiff’s security clearance and access to classified information by NGA was based solely on plaintiff’s wife’s religion, Islam, her constitutionally protected speech, and her association with, and employment by, an Islamic faith-based organization,” wrote Sheldon I. Cohen, Mr. Hegab’s attorney.  None of her actions or affiliations posed any national security concern, the lawsuit said.

There is no constitutional right to be granted a security clearance.  However, Mr. Hegab does have “a property interest in his continued employment in the position he previously held at NGA,” wrote Mr. Cohen.  “NGA by its actions has deprived plaintiff of his property interest in his continued employment with the federal government in violations of plaintiff’s right to due process under the First, Fifth and Ninth amendments to the United States Constitution.”

The new complaint presented an extensive account of Mr. Hegab’s experience along with a detailed rebuttal of the allegations against him and his wife.  The NGA’s response to the complaint will be posted in Secrecy News when it is filed in a month or so.

“Muslims have replaced Jews as targets of discrimination” in the security clearance system, according to a report in Moment magazine, a Jewish monthly.  See “Anti-Muslim Discrimination in Post 9/11 America,” April 2011.