Defending the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is a tough business. That’s why the U.S. government has Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, where the nation’s secrets can be freely discussed by military officers, intelligence operatives and diplomats.
If you’re going to keep the bad guys out, you’ve got to think like a bad guy. That’s what makes these technical specifications about building and operating SCIFs so interesting (the Navy has helpfully posted the entire thing…and more skiff, as the term is pronounced, background here).
Highlights from the 161-page document, produced by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, include:
– Hinge pins that are accessible from outside of the SCIF door shall be modified to prevent removal of the door, e.g., welded, set screws, etc.
– Every effort should be made to minimize or eliminate windows in the SCIF, especially on the ground floor.
– Windows shall be non-opening.
– The SCIF perimeter shall provide five minutes of forced-entry protection.
– Initial response time shall be five minutes.
– General construction of SCIFs shall be performed using U.S. citizens and U.S. firms.
– SCIF finish work (work that includes closing up wall structures; installing, floating, taping and sealing wallboards; installing trim, chair rail, molding, and floorboards; painting; etc.) in Category III countries [as ranked by the U.S. government's classified Security Environment Threat List] shall be accomplished by SECRET-cleared, U.S. personnel.
– SCIF finish work (work that includes closing up wall structures; installing, floating, taping and sealing wallboards; installing trim, chair rail, molding, and floorboards; painting; etc.) in Category I and II countries shall be accomplished by TOP SECRET-cleared, U.S. personnel.
– Guards are required for SCIF construction outside the U.S.
– For building construction projects in Category III countries, cleared U.S. citizens may randomly select up to 35% of building materials from non-specific general construction materials for SCIF construction. Random selection may exceed 35% only if materials can be individually inspected.
– For building construction projects in Category I and II countries, cleared U.S. citizens may randomly select up to 25% of building materials from non-specific general construction materials for SCIF construction. Random selection may exceed 25% only if materials can be individually inspected.
– Perimeter shall meet acoustic protection standards unless designated as a nondiscussion area.
– When expanding existing SCIF space into areas not controlled at the SECRET level, maximum demolition of the new SCIF area is required.
– Following an unscheduled landing [in a flying SCIF], in U.S.-controlled or non-hostile territory, the senior SCI-indoctrinated person shall retain control of the SCI [sensitive compartmented information] material until approved storage arrangements can be effected through a local Special Security Officer or SCI indoctrinated official.
– Prior to an unscheduled landing in unfriendly or hostile territory, every reasonable effort shall be made to destroy unencrypted SCI material and communications security equipment in accordance with the emergency destruction plan.
– The ability of a SCIF structure to retain sound within the perimeter is rated using a descriptive value, the Sound Transmission Class (STC). To satisfy the normal security standards of SCIFs, the following transmission attenuation groups have been established:
…Sound Group 3 – STC 45 or better. Loud speech from within the SCIF can be faintly heard but not understood outside of the SCIF. Normal speech is unintelligible with the unaided human ear.
…Sound Group 4 – STC 50 or better. Very loud sounds within the SCIF, such as loud singing, brass music, or a radio at full volume, can be heard with the human ear faintly or not at all outside of the SCIF.
– Sound masking devices, in conjunction with an amplifier and speakers or transducers, can be used to generate and distribute vibrations or noise; noise sources may be noise generators, tapes, discs, or digital audio players.
– Speakers/transducers must produce sound at a higher level than the voice conversations within the SCIF.
– Any sound-source generator within the SCIF that is equipped with a capability to record ambient sound shall have that capability disabled.
– Office equipment that is no longer serviceable, such as copiers and classified fax machines, shall be sanitized by having volatile memory erased and non-volatile memory and disk storage removed for terminal destruction.
– Combinations to locks installed on security containers/safes, perimeter doors, windows, and any other opening should be changed in the following circumstances:
a) When a combination lock is first installed or used.
b) When a combination has been subjected, or believed to have been subjected, to compromise.
c) Whenever a person knowing the combination no longer requires access to it unless other sufficient controls exist to prevent access to the lock.
d) At other times when considered necessary by the SO [security officer].
2. When the lock is taken out of service, it will be reset to 50-25-50.