Senate sheds light on State security problems

The Senate has proposed sweeping information security reforms throughout

the State Department's intelligence and counterintelligence organizations

to stem the growing tide of information security breaches at the department.

In a report on the fiscal 2001 intelligence authorization act, the Senate

Select Committee on Intelligence threatened to withhold future funding and

recommended limitations on State's authority to store certain types of classified

materials.

If passed into law, the bill would require the director of Central Intelligence

(DCI) to certify that all State classified information handling and storage

procedures comply with DCI directives before intelligence information can

be shared with the department. The bill also threatens to withhold funding

from State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) if certain elements

of the agency are not certified.

The committee's action comes one month after the disappearance of a laptop

computer belonging to a State employee within INR. The laptop, which State

officials have presumed stolen, is known to have contained highly classified

information on weapons proliferation.

The case of the missing laptop is just the latest State incident to fuel

the Senate committee's action. In January, officials discovered a listening

device implanted by a Russian agent in a chair rail in a seventh-floor conference

room at State headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The discovery of the listening device followed a February 1998 incident

in which a man entered the secretary of State's office and made off with

top-secret documents. The man has never been identified, and the documents

have not been recovered.

In February, the State Department's Inspector General issued a report that

castigated the agency for not complying with security regulations put in

place by the DCI, who has authority over the protection of classified intelligence

information throughout the intelligence community, including INR.

"The committee believes, however, that the time has come for the State Department

to be held accountable for its failure to comply with directives governing

the protection of [sensitive compartmented information]," the Senate committee

report states.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has since ordered a "top to bottom"

review of department security policies and procedures.

MORE INFO

"Congress pushes intelligence reform" [FCW.com, May 10, 1000]

"Security compliance help on the way" [FCW.com, March 15, 2000]

"Details emerging on high-tech State bugging" [Federal Computer Week, Dec.8, 1999]

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

BY Dan Verton
May 10, 2000

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