Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
Suppose someone works for the Department of Defense with a secret clearance. Upon retirement he would like to move to another NATO country and work for a defense contractor. What legal and/or clearance issues does this raise?
The defense contractor will understand the security requirements and be able to advise you. Sometimes it is sufficient for you to work at the “secret” level with an American clearance. Sometimes more is required. Ask your potential employer what you need. It may be just a matter of being processed for another clearance level.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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You’ve signed non-disclosure agreements regarding classified topics you’ve worked on. They would still be binding. I would think even if you don’t flat out disclose classified info to a foreign power, relying on knowledge of classified material to do work for a foreign power would be a *VERY* gray area as your work could highlight U.S. gaps and weaknesses. Worst case scenario, you open yourself up to charges of espionage (doesn’t matter if it’s an ally/NATO country).
Think carefully on why a foreign defense contractor would hire you and what you have to offer…if it’s mainly knowledge gained because of your clearance you probably shouldn’t.
If you’re still considering this when you’re close to retirement, you should probably talk to your SSO and/or an attorney well versed in clearance issues, laws regarding disclosure of classified information, and espionage.