Senate sheds light on State security problems
- By Dan Verton
- May 10, 2000
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
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
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has since ordered a "top to bottom"
review of department security policies and procedures.