Why Republicans Storming a SCIF Puts National Security at Risk

It should go without saying: Don’t round up a bunch of your buddies and jostle your way into a highly secured government facility uninvited. But that's exactly what a group of Republican congressmen proudly did Wednesday morning.“BREAKING,” representative Matt Gaetz (R–Florida) tweeted at 11:32 am, “I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions.” Schiff is the head of the House Intelligence Committee, who has led the recent inquiry into President Trump’s Ukraine imbroglio . (Deputy assistant secretary of defense Laura Cooper was scheduled to give a deposition this morning.) But while Gaetz and his cohorts may have fancied themselves Parisians storming the Bastille of cloak-and-dagger bureaucracy, all they’ve really accomplished is the violation of some extremely basic tenets of national security.
Meet the gaggle of Republicans who violated security protocols Wednesday.
Let’s start with the SCIF (pronounced skiff), since it’s an unfamiliar acronym for many. It stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. These are rooms that are outfitted to be effectively spyproof by conforming to a stringent list of security standards. There’s a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago , for instance, kitted out to accommodate briefings for Trump during his frequent southerly sojourns. Barack Obama traveled with a SCIF tent during his presidency that could be set up on short notice inside, say, a hotel room.The requirements of a SCIF will also vary depending on its specific use case; whether sensitive materials will be stored there or simply discussed, for instance, makes a difference. But some standards apply universally, as you can see in these hefty guidelines produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They need radio frequency shielding, to prevent those signals going in or out. Their walls should be stuffed with sound-attenuation material and topped off with acoustic sealant. And any electronics inside a SCIF need to conform to the NSA’s TEMPEST specification, which details how to keep them safe from surveillance. This is just a sampling! But you get it by now. It’s a lot.
The reason to lock down a SCIF is intuitive. They’re the rooms where the most sensitive conversations related to US national security take place—or, at least, they’re supposed to be . That includes the current impeachment inquiry, which relates directly to high-level interactions between the US and foreign countries, at least some of which is presumably classified, and all of which a hacking-happy country like, say, Russia would love an inside read on.