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Sensitive compartmented information facility

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When Donald Trump became president in 2017, a SCIF was set up at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he referred to as his Winter White House. Trump (at the head of the table with various cabinet members, advisers, and staffers) is seen here monitoring the Syrian cruise missile attack from the Mar-a-Lago SCIF.

A sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF /skɪf/), in United States military, national security/national defense and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process sensitive compartmented information (SCI) types of classified information.

SCIFs can be either permanent or temporary and can be set up in official government buildings (such as the Situation Room in the White House), onboard ships, in private residences of officials, or in hotel rooms and other places of necessity for officials when traveling.[1] Portable SCIFs can also be quickly set up when needed during emergency situations.[2][3]

Because of the operational security (OPSEC) risk they pose, personal cell phones, smart watches, computer flash drives (aka, "thumb drives"), or any other sort of personal electronic device (PED), cameras (analog or digital) other than those that are U.S. Government property and which are used only under strict guidelines, and/or any other sort of recording or transmitting devices (analog or digital) are expressly prohibited in SCIFs.[4][5]


Access to SCIFs is normally limited to those individuals with appropriate security clearances.[6] Non-cleared personnel in SCIFs must be under the constant oversight of cleared personnel and all classified information and material removed from view to prevent unauthorized access.[7] As part of this process, non-cleared personnel are also typically required to surrender all recording, photographic and other electronic media devices. All of the activity and conversation inside is presumed restricted from public disclosure.[1][8]


Some entire buildings are SCIFs where all but the front foyer is secure. A SCIF can also be located in an air, ground or maritime vehicle, or can be established temporarily at a specific site.[1] The physical construction, access control, and alarming of the facility has been defined by various directives, including Director of Central Intelligence Directives (DCIDs) 1/21 and 6/9, and most recently (2011) by Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 705, signed by the Director of National Intelligence. ICD 705 is a three-page capstone document that implements Intelligence Community Standard (ICS) 705-1, ICS 705-2 and the Technical Specifications for Construction and Management of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities or "Tech Specs." The latest version of the Tech Specs was published in March 2020 (Version 1.5).[9]

Computers operating within such a facility must conform to rules established by ICD 503. Computers and telecommunication equipment within must conform to TEMPEST emanations specification as directed by a Certified TEMPEST Technical Authority (CTTA).

Officials documented to have had a SCIF set up in their private residences include:


  1. ^ a b c d Rafferty, Andrew (April 7, 2017). "Here's the kind of security needed to discuss sensitive information". NBC News. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Kelsey, Adam (January 6, 2017). "What Is a SCIF? Inside the Room Used for Intelligence Briefings". ABC News.
  3. ^ Choate, Trish (January 15, 2009). "Air Force planning to train hundreds yearly in cyber warfare skills". San Angelo Standard-Times.
  4. ^ McGrath, Jenny (October 23, 2019). "Why Can't You Bring Electronic Devices into a SCIF?". Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  5. ^ "ANNEX D: Part I - Portable Electronic Devices in Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities" (PDF).
  6. ^ Schneier, Bruce (January 16, 2014). "Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA". Schneier.com. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  7. ^ Keating, T. J. (April 1, 2011). Joint and National Intelligence Support to Military Operations. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 9781437938272.
  8. ^ a b Nunez, Elissa (April 7, 2017). "What this photo of Trump's war room tells us". CNN. Retrieved August 10, 2023.
  9. ^ "Technical Specifications for Construction and Management of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities" (PDF). DNI.gov. September 28, 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 20, 2023. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Kopan, Tal; Perez, Evan (September 2, 2016). "FBI releases Hillary Clinton email report". CNN. Retrieved May 16, 2023.

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