Building more secure buildings

Thursday - 9/2/2010, 6:56pm EDT

P.K. Bagchi, director of Facility Security Services, USIS

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By Olivia Branco
Internet Editor
Federal News Radio

When you think of something being bugged, you probably think about your computer or your email.

But what if the building you're sitting in was bugged? That's exactly what Mike Fraser and P.K. Bagchi talked about with Chris Dorobek on the Dorobek Insider.

In the 1970s, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was bugged during its construction by Soviet agents posing as laborers. When it was discovered in the early 1980s, it was found that even the concrete columns were so riddled with bugs that the building eventually had to be torn down and replaced with a new one, built with U.S. materials and labor.

For a time, until the new building was completed, embassy workers had to communicate in conference rooms in writing, using children's "Mystic Writing Tablets".

Bagchi, director of Facility Security Services for USIS and former State Department employee, talked about how their company protects buildings from being bugged.

Bagchi explained that the concept of building security has been around for a while, but it has changed.

"Initially it was all with the Department of State facilities, the embassies that are being built overseas, but now it is also this type of construction surveillance, we are performing these services at the domestic facilities and other governement facilties, intelligence community, anybody that is building anything sensitive which is going to hold either classified materials, or you're going to have classified conversations, you have to be sure that the building is built in a secured manner."

Bagchi explained the threat of building security noting the uncertainty of workers' backgrounds.

"You do not know for sure the background that are building on a day-to-day basis. You've got on a construction site, 2,000-3,000 people all different backgrounds," Bagchi said. "Initially, the threat used to be overseas, where the foreign nationalists so we had to provide the surveillance, we had to make sure that when the building is being built, nothing is being put in there which shouldn't be there."

So what exactly does Bagchi's team do to protect buildings?

"We go about making sure nothing goes int that facility which shouldn't be there. The architects and engineers, they designed it. Our people who are technically qualified in different disciplines, in a construction you got architechtural element, mechanial element, electrical element, and we have people speciallized in different areas who make sure that when the facility is being built, instead of five wires, we have seven or eight, instead of so many numbed of conduits that should be there, we don't have extra conduits that somebody, the bad guys can take advantage of down the line."