Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility

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A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced "skiff") in United States military, security and intelligence parlance, is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information.

SCI is usually only briefed, discussed, and stored in an accredited SCIF.


Access to SCIFs is normally limited to those with clearance.[1] Non-cleared personnel in SCIF must be under constant oversight to prevent unauthorized access to classified material;[2] as part of this process, non-cleared personnel are typically required to surrender recording and other electronic devices.[3] All of the activity and conversation inside is presumed restricted from public disclosure.


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 on a temporary basis at a specific site. 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 document that implements Intelligence Community Standard (ICS) 705.1. 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).

In popular culture[edit]

  • In NCIS episode "Pyramid" it is revealed the NCIS Director Vance can place his office into SCIF mode. He does it so he can discuss the details of a classified operation (AKA a black op) with the Secretary of the Navy (SecNav).
  • The Drop Dead Diva episode "Desperate Housewife" shows a SCIF being used by the United States government to convey information to a judge while preventing the defendants in a trial from hearing the information.
  • In the episode "The Bit Bucket" of The Good Wife, a SCIF is used by the NSA to convey information to a judge while preventing the defendants in a trial from hearing the information. Later in the episode the defendants' lawyers use the SCIF to argue without the NSA's lawyer present.
  • In the Criminal Minds episodes "Lauren" and "Valhalla", a SCIF in Quantico is used to hold a briefing between the Behavioral Analysis Unit and a private counterintelligence group.
  • In Homeland episode "There's Something Else Going On", a SCIF is seen at the Islamabad United States Embassy.
  • In the NCIS: New Orleans episode "The Abyss", Coast Guard Special Agent Abigail Borin is seen accessing SCIF to oversee an undersea recovery.
  • In Burn Notice episode "Signals and Codes" Michael Weston has to break into a SCIF room in order to download the decryption key for various emails sent by a treasonous employee of a corporate government contractor.
  • In Person of Interest season 1 episode 22, titled "No Good Deed", is based on an operative who works at a SCIF.
  • In the movie Behind Enemy Lines the SCIF is used to track a downed Reconnaissance Officer and F/A-18 Navigator—Lt. Chris Burnett, who was shot down with his Pilot In Command "Stackhouse". Stackhouse was subsequently killed by Serbian forces after veering off mission and discovering a mass grave of local civilians killed by a local Serbian military commander Miraslov Lokar. The SCIF was used to hotwire a satellite to track via infra-red "thermal imaging" and then again after Lt. Burnett reactivated the ejection seat locating transmitter.

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