- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 1999

The State Department began Saturday night requiring employees to show their photo identification cards to tighten security after a Russian eavesdropping device was found in a conference room.
A State Department official yesterday said the security changes were a result of the discovery of a Russian bug. “The decision was made to do this last week, after [the bug was discovered] and we began to implement it on Saturday,” the official said.
The latest security changes requiring employees to show photo ID cards to guards were made after The Washington Times reported Saturday that the State Department had suspended requirements for employees and contractors entering the building to always show their IDs at nights and on weekends.
The Times reported that the policy was changed about a year ago because State Department workers complained it was a waste of time.
“It is damage control,” said a department security source. “They put up the ropes and made a little walkway and now everyone has to show their IDs. It is 100-percent ID checks now.”
A State Department official said a policy was in place in which security guards were supposed to challenge employees and inspect ID cards, but it “was imperfectly implemented over a period of time” and was “applied on an episodic basis.”
The photo ID cards have magnetic strips that can be swiped through an ID card reader that unlocks turnstiles and doors, allowing the cardholders to enter the building.
“The department has been in the process of tightening security on an ongoing basis for about the past year, year and a half,” State Department spokesman James Foley told reporters at the daily briefing.
Since Dec. 6, reporters who enter State Department headquarters on a temporary one-day pass have been kept in a small press area on the second floor, unable to roam around the building.
Until last week, reporters given a day pass were allowed access to much of the building except for a few top-security areas, including Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright’s office.
Reporters with permanent press passes can still wander the building freely by using their electronic ID cards, although department regulations say they must remain in the press area unless they have an appointment elsewhere.
Sources said lax security at night and on weekends could have allowed Russian spies easy access to the building.
“It does not surprise me one bit,” the source said about the building being infiltrated.
Last week, Russian intelligence officer Stanislav Borisovich Gusev was arrested and expelled from the United States for spying outside State Department headquarters.
He was caught picking up transmissions from a bugging device placed in a strip of wall molding in a seventh-floor State Department conference room. The bug was “professionally” planted, and it took several hours to install to avoid detection, FBI officials said.
The security source said that it was possible that the person who installed the bug could work unimpeded for several hours because only two private security guards check offices on only two of the seven floors nightly.
The bug had been in place for several months before it was detected.
An FBI surveillance team working on a separate case first noticed Mr. Gusev’s questionable visits outside the State Department early last summer. Agents kept him under constant surveillance during what were described as weekly visits to the site, near 23rd Street NW.
A Justice Department official said last week the FBI is investigating lax security at the State Department, such as the agency’s reliance on private guards without top-secret clearances for the bulk of its building security.
Although officers who provided the majority of security at the State Department are identified as State Department officers, they are actually contracted private security guards who work for Inter-Con Security Systems Inc.
The Times reported July 30 that the guards have little firearms training and about 90 minutes of anti-terrorism training. They have no training to detect bugging devices.
Mr. Foley denied that guards had received insufficient training.
Security lapses at the State Department include a November 1998 incident in which a guard took a woman he had met over the Internet into Mrs. Albright’s office. The woman did not have a security clearance; the guard, who had no authority to enter the office, was not fired, The Times reported on Aug. 7.

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