Intelligence: May 18, 2000


: The special FBI unit that monitors security at the US State Department has warned Congress that security there is extremely lax. There were 1,673 incidents in 1998, mostly minor but four were considered "Egregious". Some 53 violations from 1995-98 were important enough to report to the FBI, but none were prosecuted. The State Department has a lax security culture in which diplomats are prone to trust each other (and just about anyone else). Some of the reported lapses include: 

@ Access controls are primitive, assuming that someone would not try to enter an area he is not cleared for except by accident. Even what controls are present are not enforced, as only rarely does anyone check to see that a given photo identification card is being used by the person whose photo is actually on the card.

@ It is the policy for any non-employee in the building to be escorted to ensure they do not wander into secure areas or plant espionage devices. Most visitors are not kept under close escort, and journalists (including those from Russia and China) are not escorted at all.

@ Document control varies from rudimentary to non-existent. Confidential documents go missing, are taken into unsecured areas, and are left unattended. Documents are signed out to people and no one makes any effort to keep track of where they are taken. Safe combinations are changed only rarely.

@ The State Department loses track of laptop computers. While most of the lost computers are not for secure use, many classified files are found on unsecured computers and no one seems to keep track of just what is copied into any given hard disk.

@ At least 140 rooms house classified materials, none of them have been checked for listening devices or cameras.

@ Marines practicing to be security guards at overseas embassies used to make practice sweeps of State Department headquarters, but after eight sweeps in 1998 found 500 violations, the practice sessions were canceled "because they created too much paperwork" (that paperwork being the reports of violations).--Stephen V Cole


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