Hillary Clinton’s emails as secretary of state contain a remarkable revelation that has been largely ignored by the media: She and her staff sought to use a mobile device inside a SCIF, that is, a sophisticated “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility” specially designed to thwart espionage.
If you’ve never been inside a SCIF, let me tell you it is quite an experience.
The SCIF is a room inside a room. It looks and sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. The doors are large and thick. When opened, a big suction sound is met by air pressure pushing against the door. You immediately sense you are entering a space that is secure. The SCIF is where America’s most sensitive secrets are often discussed.
Once inside the SCIF, the suction sound is heard again as the doors are sealed. Diplomats go from a loud outer space to a quiet room in seconds. It is not always a comfortable space for people with claustrophobia.
But one thing is for certain: you know you are inside a secure space when you are inside a SCIF.
Thanks to the Judicial Watch organization, we now know that Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills petitioned intelligence officials to allow Hillary to use her BlackBerry inside a SCIF.
One email said, “… Secretary Clinton … does not use standard computer equipment but relies exclusively on her BlackBerry for emailing and remaining in contact on her schedule etc. Ideally all members of her suite would be allowed to use BlackBerrys for communication in the SCIF.”
This is stunning. SCIFs are designed to keep sensitive and classified U.S. government information secure and free from enemy surveillance. They are completely soundproofed, and prevent electronic emanations from leaking out of the secure area into the world at large – an obvious vulnerability in an interconnected world.
To achieve this level of security, anyone entering this secure space must hand over all mobile computing devices — smart phones, laptops, etc. These must remain outside; to do otherwise would be to invite acts of espionage.
For a diplomatic veteran like me, the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to bring a BlackBerry, a device that can be hacked and made to surreptitiously transmit its owner’s conversations, into a SCIF is simply shocking.
Cybersecurity analyst Morgan Wright told Fox News it reflects “contempt for the system, contempt for the rules that are designed to protect the exact kind of information that was exposed through this email set up.”
I find it hard to take issue with that assessment, especially given the evidence that Clinton used her BlackBerry while visiting Russia and China, an inviting target for those nations’ fully capable espionage operations.
There is no way Hillary Clinton wasn’t aware that a SCIF is supposed to be the most secure space diplomats have. Asking U.S. intelligence agencies to break the rules so you can enjoy the convenience of using your mobile device inside a SCIF is very disturbing.
Clinton’s request for a waiver allowing her to use her mobile device inside a SCIF was denied by the National Security Agency, and appropriately so.
Here’s the bottom line: Clinton aspires to lead America and to be put in command of national security. But her history of cavalierly ignoring security procedures is a troubling fact that every American needs to know about.
(Article original appeared in Newsmax Magazine, October 2016)