Nov. 8, 2019
On Oct. 23, over two dozen members of Congress forced their entry into the congressional Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) with the alleged intent to participate in (or otherwise derail) a classified House Intelligence Committee deposition of a witness as part of ongoing impeachment investigations. In carrying out this action, the participating members of Congress violated a number of security and procedural norms that are essential to the SCIF’s purpose and legitimacy.
Detailed here, an SCIF’s requirements—both for material design and behavioral standards—are crafted to protect America’s national security interests. The members who “stormed” the SCIF not only failed to respect and acknowledge these rules, they introduced additional security threats by entering with their smartphones. Some even attempted to livestream and tweet from within the facility.
Regardless of political motivation, our lawmakers ought to respect the rules and processes established by Congress and the National Security and Counterintelligence Center to guarantee our national security. While a group of congressmen bringing cell phones into an SCIF could be painted as a minor infraction, the blatant violation of a well-known rule sets a concerning precedent as Congress enters an ever-more politicized chapter of the impeachment inquiry.
Additionally, the members’ attempts to physically force their participation in a closed-door deposition raises ethical and normative concerns regarding the members’ respect for the institutional framework of committee jurisdiction and witness protection. Moving forward, any infraction against SCIF regulations should not be tolerated.