NSA chief built war-room replica of Star Trek ship with tax dollars

It had already been reported by Glenn Greenwald (and numerous other outlets) that NSA chief General Keith Alexander had essentially built himself an homage replica of the Starship Enterprise bridge (the Next-Gen NCC-1701-D version, to be precise) as the command-and-control center for his “war room.”  Yes, we’re talking the bridge from Star Trek.

Honestly, there’s a whole bucket of wrong in that first paragraph, starting with the fact we have a military officer running the NSA.

It was in the Washington Post, where a profile of General Alexander describes his attitude towards national security and data hoovering: Get it all. No exceptions. No more privacy for anyone, anywhere.

International, domestic, American citizen or not, it didn’t matter. If a piece of data existed, even if it was your kid depositing his or her allowance in a savings account or you ordering up some porn on On-Demand, Alexander wanted that data in a server somewhere. And he wants to keep that data forever.

But the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, wanted more than mere snippets. He wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.

“‘Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’ said one former senior US intelligence official who tracked the plan’s implementation. ‘Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it. . . . .

“It also encapsulated Alexander’s controversial approach to safeguarding Americans from what he sees as a host of imminent threats, from terrorism to devastating cyberattacks.

In a new article linked by Greenwald, over on Foreignpolicy.com, we learn even more disturbing details about the man who will not be satisfied with less than the “whole haystack.”

Alexander wants as much data as he can get. And to hang onto it for as long as he can. To prevent the next terrorist attack, he thinks he needs to be able to see entire networks of communications and also go “back in time,” as he has said publicly, to study how terrorists and networks evolve. (…)

Today the agency is routinely scooping up and storing Americans’ phone records. It is screening their emails and text messages, even though the agency can’t always tell the difference between an innocent American and a foreign terrorist. The NSA uses corporate proxies to monitor up to 75% of Internet traffic inside the United States. And it has spent billions on a secret campaign to foil encryption technologies that individuals, corporations, and governments around the world had long thought protected the privacy of their communications from U.S. intelligence agencies.

Now then, about that ‘starship bridge.’ Until recently, we’d only been told about the Picard-esque command chair and the doors that go whoosh. Thanks to some sleuthing from Greenwald, who tracked down the architecture company that supposedly designed the war room, DBI Architects, Inc., we can see what our American taxpayer dollars are being spent on.

NSA chief General Keith Alexander's toy - a Star Trek playset he named the "Information Domination Center."

NSA chief General Keith Alexander’s toy – a Star Trek playset he named the “Information Dominance Center.”

He’s named his war-room the Information Dominance Center — and for some reason expects us not to be entirely creeped-out by that. In case it’s not obvious just how much this room was influenced by Trek, here’s another view.

General Alexander's fantasy from another angle

General Alexander’s fantasy from another angle

As described on the PBS News Hour:

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When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather ‘captain’s chair’ in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

“‘Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,’ says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.”

Now we’ve seen what had before only been described. Seriously, isn’t it time to be disturbed to the point of taking action? This is exactly the kind of excess and corruption that happens when there are buckets of money being dispensed freely, with no accountability and what’s become an obvious disdain for the Constitution and the rule-of-law.

Men like General Alexander will run amok. The evidence is right here.

Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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