FBI Building Not Secure

The FBI headquarters complex has a wee problem:

“The Hoover Building does not meet the Interagency Security Committee’s criteria for a secure Federal facility capable of handling intelligence and other sensitive information,” the Senate Appropriations Committee observed in a new report on the 2009 Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations bill.

“The Committee finds these conditions unacceptable and directs the Government Accountability Office [GAO] to review the Hoover Building and associated off-site locations, and provide a analysis of the FBI’s ability to fulfill its mission and security requirements under the present circumstances,” the report said.

Given that the FBI is the lead agency in domestic counterterrorism, either the rules or the building need changing, stat.  Steve Aftergood reports that they’ve come up with a bizarre work-around:

The FBI is in the process of constructing a Central Records Complex outside of Washington, DC. When completed, it will provide secure, centralized storage for classified intelligence, consistent with the security requirements of Director of Central Intelligence Directive (DCID) 6/9 and related guidelines.

Now, I’m all for moving sensitive information and, indeed, most federal bureaucratic activities, outside DC and, preferably, the National Capital Region for reasons I won’t get into here.  But one would think the FBI headquarters building ought to be properly equipped to handle classified information.  Alternatively, if there is no reason to think that it isn’t, then we should quit inventing arbitrary rules that require massive expenditures to achieve unnecessarily restrictive standards.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. B. Minich says:

    I just think the FBI building is the ugliest building ever built. If they move out, we can get rid of the thing.

  2. Bithead says:

    Ummm, Forgive me but if the documents in question are stored anywhere electronically, then moving them seems a fruitless gesture. Would they not, in that case, still be accessable in the building they’re being moved out of?

  3. Michael says:

    Ummm, Forgive me but if the documents in question are stored anywhere electronically, then moving them seems a fruitless gesture. Would they not, in that case, still be accessable in the building they’re being moved out of?

    Presumably the criticism is that the current building would allow unauthorized people to access unsecured files, where the new building would prevent unauthorized people from accessing unsecured files.

    Since you are a techie, like me, you’re probably also thinking it would be cheaper to just secure the files themselves.

  4. fredw says:

    I’m dead set against moving sensitive information and, indeed, most federal bureaucratic activities, outside DC. In fact I think all targets of interest to terrorists should be moved back there. If the terrorists come again, let them come to D.C; we can fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here, where I live.

  5. James Joyner says:

    fact I think all targets of interest to terrorists should be moved back there. If the terrorists come again, let them come to D.C; we can fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here, where I live.

    Heh. Of course, that’s also the main argument the other way. Consolidation makes for an easy target.

    Plus, the DC area is ridiculously expensive and the infrastructure doesn’t support the congestion well. We’d save a ton of money dispersing to the hinterlands.

  6. Bithead says:

    Presumably the criticism is that the current building would allow unauthorized people to access unsecured files, where the new building would prevent unauthorized people from accessing unsecured files.

    Since you are a techie, like me, you’re probably also thinking it would be cheaper to just secure the files themselves.

    You’re warm. I’m thinking that if such files are available electronically, they’d be accessable from the old building and hereby present nearly the same security issues as their current location. Secure the damn buidlings….

  7. anjin-san says:

    Secure the damn buidlings….

    Bush has had many years to do just that.

  8. Michael says:

    Bush has had many years to do just that.

    Not the President’s job.

    Look, I don’t like the guy, I voted against him (twice), but “it’s Bush’s fault” isn’t actually solution to anything.

  9. anjin-san says:

    Not the President’s job.

    Not directly perhaps (though I do think the director answers to the President) but a symptom of how Iraq obsession has harmed national security across the board.

  10. Bithead says:

    Not directly perhaps (though I do think the director answers to the President) but a symptom of how Iraq obsession has harmed national security across the board.

    A definitive case of BDS.

  11. anjin-san says:

    A definitive case of BDS.

    Kind of funny coming from someone who claims almost everything that has gone wrong in human history is either the fault of Democrats in congress or environmentalists.

    Bush is the president, and as such, should be held at least somewhat accountable for failures in the federal government. Of course, this is the “no responsibility” president. The buck stops anywhere in the known universe, except on his desk…