Did the storage facilities at Mar-a-Lago meet federal standards?

Some have alleged that the facilities at Mar-a-Lago were inadequate for the storage of classified information. None of the formal reporting I’ve seen has made that claim, but I was curious to find out what the storage requirements might have been.

I downloaded a copy of the current National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). This document is the security procedures Bible for the entire military industrial complex. There might be a corresponding standard that applies to Mar-a-Lago, but it is unlikely that its specifications differ in any meaningful way from the NISPOM.

NISPOM Chapter 5 is titled, “Safeguarding Classified Information.” Section 5-302, TOP SECRET Storage says, “TOP SECRET material shall be stored in a GSA-approved security container, an approved vault, or an approved closed area with supplemental controls.”

Section 5-306, “Closed Areas” provides additional detail:

Due to the size and nature of the classified material, or for operational necessity, it may be necessary to construct closed areas for storage because GSA-approved containers or vaults are unsuitable or impractical. Closed areas must be constructed in accordance with section 8 of this chapter. Access to closed areas must be controlled to preclude unauthorized access. This may be accomplished through the use of a cleared person or by a supplanting access control device or system. Access shall be limited to authorized persons who have an appropriate security clearance and a need-to-know for the classified material/information within the area. Persons without the appropriate level of clearance and/or need to know shall be escorted at all times by an authorized person where inadvertent or unauthorized exposure to classified information cannot otherwise be effectively prevented. Closed areas storing TOP SECRET and SECRET material shall be accorded supplemental protection during non-working hours. During non-working hours and during working hours when the area is unattended, admittance to the area shall be controlled by locked entrances and exits secured by either an approved built-in combination lock or an approved combination or key-operated padlock. It is not necessary to activate the supplemental controls during working hours. Doors secured from the inside with a panic bolt (for example, actuated by a panic bar, a dead bolt, a rigid wood or metal bar) or other means approved by the CSA, will not require additional locking devices.

Notice that these requirements are fairly simple to achieve. A basement closet with an approved lock may suffice, even for TS/SCI materials.

Another objection raised is that while the Mar-a-Lago facility might be adequate for storage, it may not be adequate for working with, or even merely discussing classified information. That may be true, but Mar-a-Lago also had a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) where TS/SCI materials could be examined and discussed.

We can assume there was no physical or procedural reason highly classified materials could not be stored, handled or discussed at Mar-a-Lago.

30 thoughts on “Did the storage facilities at Mar-a-Lago meet federal standards?

        1. How so? Do you disagree that the NISPOM “is the security procedures Bible for the entire military industrial complex,” or that any comparable specification that would apply to Mar-a-Lago is unlikely to “differ in any meaningful way from the NISPOM”?

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  1. “TOP SECRET material shall be stored in a GSA-approved security container, an approved vault, or an approved closed area with supplemental controls.”

    When did GSA approve cardboard boxes in a closet at a crowded golf club secured by a sub-standard lock with an unknown number of keyholders and key?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “When did GSA approve cardboard boxes in a closet at a crowded golf club secured by a sub-standard lock with an unknown number of keyholders and key?”

      Probably when it approved the SCIF. As I wrote, “Notice that these requirements are fairly simple to achieve. A basement closet with an approved lock may suffice, even for TS/SCI materials.” So, if you need proof the GSA approved the closed area in question, I must ask you for proof that GSA disapproved of it.

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      1. There’s a SCIF at Mar-A-Lago? First report of that I have heard ANYWHERE.

        For one who has claimed superior knowledge of classification security, you sure do come off as … misinformed.

        Straws grasped?

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          1. That’s the one!

            “Ironically, the existence of the SCIF at the president’s private club in Palm Beach was first revealed in a White House press briefing on February 14, 2017, to rebut criticism Trump himself had put sensitive discussions at risk.”

            Mr. Green has been uninformed about the SCIF at Mar-a-Lago for five years. The SCIF at Trump Towers is another one.

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          2. I stand corrected.

            However, once TFG was out of office, there was no further requirement for a SCIF. And the basement storeroom where the documents were found do not meet the requirements of a SCIF.

            I hope to see both of you stand up and say you are wrong when you are proven wrong as opposed to finding more BUKKLSHIT form some otherworldly source that YOU think proves you right.

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      2. So, that closet was part of SCIF? Quite an image – Trump huddling with his National Security team in a closet. Not too ridiculous.

        Uh, the lock was NOT approved. That has already been established. And this may be hard for you to understand, but there is a lot more to a secured area than the lock. How thick are walls? How thick is the door? What kind of fire protection? How many keys? Who has them?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “So, that closet was part of SCIF?”

          Didn’t say that. TS/SCI documents can be transported from one secure location to another.

          RE: “there is a lot more to a secured area than the lock.”

          Yes there is. See Chapter 5, Section 8 of the NISPOM. Except for the lock which had to be replaced (reasons unknown), it is reasonable to expect the basement closet met the requirements.

          Furthermore, Mar-A-Lago must have had a Facility Security Clearance (FSC or FSL) when Trump was president, or else the SCIF was not usable. Unless it was formally revoked on leaving office, it is still in effect.

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      3. You made the assertion that the closet with a bad lock in a club with hundreds of members and staff was secure and approved for TS/SCI for the period after Trump left office.

        You prove that. “May suffice” is not proof.

        PS: You have made multiple assertions in the past days and your answer to any challenge is to prove it wrong. Well, first you have to prove it correct.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “You made the assertion that the closet with a bad lock in a club with hundreds of members and staff was secure and approved for TS/SCI for the period after Trump left office.”

          No, I didn’t. I asserted that achieving the requirements in the NISPOM is not particularly difficult.

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          1. Whether or not the requirements are not hard to achieve is absolutely no evidence that those requirements were met in Mar a Lago 20 months after Trump left office.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. I never said that it was. I have said only that assuming the storage location was unsecure is a case of assuming too much.

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  2. “ We can assume there was no physical or procedural reason highly classified materials could not be stored, handled or discussed at Mar-a-Lago.”

    By whom? Trump has been out of office, a civilian like the rest of us, for 20 months. The country club has hundreds of members. Are they cleared for the highest level of secrecy. Club staff, cleaning crew, secretaries…

    When Trump is gone, security is bare bones. There were just a few SS agents when the FBI arrived. Their job is to protect the ex-president, not guard a closet.

    There is no reason for Trump to give the middle finger to our nation. By stonewalling on our documents long after he is gone he is doing just that.

    He stole them because he wanted to and thinks that by forcing our hand after 20 months to get them back he will look like a martyr to his cult. The victim role is patented by the right.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You assume too much. You say, for example, “When Trump is gone, security is bare bones,” but you don’t know that to be the case. When he leaves does he take all the locks, security cameras, area alarms and trained security personnel with him? When he returns, do they magically reappear? Do you even know what security is installed or practiced at Mar-a-Lago?

      I have tried to help you envision it by linking to the NISPOM. Do you really think you know better?

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      1. As a PSA, I am linking to the specs for a proper SCIF.

        Click to access ics-705-ts.pdf

        Even with all the nuts and bolts in the right places, soundproofing, etc. the question is still what the method, if any, to keep a close track of who has access and keys. A vault is impressive looking, but if the combination or in this case, a key, is not limited to those with TS/SCI clearance for the specific documents stored, there is no security.

        If the padlock was so bad that the government called back in June and said to get a better padlock, then I have my doubts. And at that time, the feds had picked up what they were told were all the classified documents in that closet. Trump via his attorney signed a document saying so. So suggesting a better lock was probably with the assumption that what was left were not necessarily top state secrets.

        And, as we now know, there were at least 11 more documents still marked as classified, including TS/SCI. The video surveillance showed someone or more people moving boxes in and out of the closet.

        Do I think I know better? I post rebuttals and opinions. Which is what this site does.

        Do you know better? Unless you had a tour of Mar a Lago, we are both trying to draw conclusions based on what we read in various sources.

        I hold that a closet with a lock so cheap that the feds recommended a better one for documents after they thought they were honestly given all the classified ones was not a proper SCIF.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “I hold that a closet with a lock so cheap that the feds recommended a better one for documents after they thought they were honestly given all the classified ones was not a proper SCIF.”

          Three things.

          • Your document, ICS 705-1, is incorporated by reference in the NISPOM.
          • A “closed area” suitable for storage of TS/SCI need not be a SCIF where sensitive documents can be examined and discussed. At Mar-a-Lago it appears the storage location in the basement and the SCIF were two different places.

          • We don’t know why the lock had to be replaced. I can tell you from personal experience that lock replacements are common and don’t necessarily imply security failures, unless the replacement order is ignored.

          I am posting opinions and rebuttals on this topic because the anti-Trump assumptions I see floating around are unjustified and unjustifiable in light of currently known facts.

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          1. There are no “anti-Trump assumptions” floating around here. There are anti-Trump facts. The principle and irrefutable one being that the FBI and the AG of the United States reviewed the evidence and decided there was probable cause that violations of law – crimes – had been committed. A judge agreed. Not a single assumption there. Another anti-Trump fact. The search yielded prima facie evidence – the missing documents – confirming that the basis for the warrant had been valid.

            It is you people, with your drooling hatred of our government and your adulation of your Dear Leader, who have been throwing out unsubstantiated slanders and one unfounded assumption after another.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “There are anti-Trump facts. The principle and irrefutable one being that the FBI and the AG of the United States reviewed the evidence and decided there was probable cause that violations of law – crimes – had been committed. A judge agreed.”

            Probable cause doesn’t mean laws were broken. You act like it does. Which is an unjustified and unjustifiable assumption.

            RE: “It is you people…who have been throwing out unsubstantiated slanders and one unfounded assumption after another.”

            Name a single slander or unfounded assumption I have put out.

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          3. “Probable cause doesn’t mean laws were broken. ”

            Right. I agree. It only means that there is ALREADY evidence that it is more likely than not that laws were broken. That is the Constitutional standard for a warrant. A judge thought it was met.

            “Name a single slander or unfounded assumption I have put out.”
            You have concurred whole-heartedly that the events were politically motivated. No evidence for that and plenty to the contrary, but you keep doing it. That is slanderous.

            And in defense of Trump you have slimed NARA with no evidence. According to you they were complicit or incompetent. That is slanderous as well.

            Finally you called the slanderous article by that former FBI agent and “excellent piece” when it clearly is nothing but garbage.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. “I can tell you from personal experience that lock replacements are common and don’t necessarily imply security failures,”

            In this instance NARA told them to put a BETTER MORE SECURE lock on the space.

            Your personal experience continues to have holes shot in it.

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      2. “Do you even know what security is installed or practiced at Mar-a-Lago?”

        Do you?

        Trump has surrounded himself with a clown car of incompetents. What reason to believe his security people are any better?

        Here is an easy one – who has keys to that closet? Who was seen moving boxes in and out of it during the sixty days before the warrant was served?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “Do you?”

          I don’t claim to, as you and Mr. Rothman have.

          RE: “What reason to believe his security people are any better?”

          Because, as stated, the SCIF at Mar-a-Lago could not have been used if it was not accredited. That means the facility must have had an FSC/FCL at one time.

          The burden is on you and other liberal conspiracy theorists to show that the FSC/FCL was formally revoked. You assumptions about lax security are irrelevant until you do.

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          1. “The burden is on you and other liberal conspiracy theorists…”

            I have no burden of proof. You do. You are the ones making claims about Mar-a-Lago based on nothing but assumptions. Even as you admit the government warned of slack security.

            I have no idea what conspiracy you think you are referring to. The facts are the facts. Trump took documents he was not entitled to take. He refused to give them back. He denied the existence of some of them. They were found at his home. Nothing but facts.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. When I worked for the navy, I had a secret clearance. Our Secret information were required to be:
    1. Stored in a GSA safe with a GSA lock.
    2. Safe was in a strong vault (not a closet), with its own GSA lock.
    3. Vault was in a locked area with ID card required for entry (swipe)
    4. This area was in a locked building with ID card required for entry.
    5. The building on a Navy base with security force.
    6. Two persons must sign that the vault is secure at the end of every work day.

    To enter the vault, you had to have both a Secret clearance and a need to know.

    I am sure that Top Secret and Top Secret / SCI have even stricter requirements.

    Liked by 3 people

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