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Rocky Mountain High

William Arkin points out an interesting set of coincidences:

The National Security Agency is in the process of building a new warning hub and data warehouse in the Denver area, realigning much of its workforce from Ft. Meade, Maryland to Colorado.

On the surface, the NSA move seems to be a management and cost cutting measure, part of a post-9/11 decentralization. “This strategy better aligns support to national decision makers and combatant commanders,” an NSA spokesman told the Denver paper.

In truth, NSA is aligning its growing domestic eavesdropping operations — what the administration calls “terrorist warning” in its current PR campaign — with military homeland defense organizations, as well as the CIA’s new domestic operations Colorado.

In May, Dana Priest reported here in The Washington Post that the CIA was planning to shift much of its domestic operations to Aurora, Colorado.

The Division is responsible for exploiting the knowledge of U.S. citizens and foreigners in the United States who might have unique information about foreign countries and terrorist activities. The functions extend from engaging Iraqi or Iranian Americans in covert operations to develop information and networks in their home countries to recruiting foreign students and visitors to be American spies.

Aurora is already a reconnaissance satellite downlink and analytic center focusing on domestic warning. The NSA and CIA join U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) in Colorado. NORTHCOM is post 9/11 the U.S. military command responsible for homeland defense.

There is an old intel joke that goes: “In God we trust, all others we monitor.” The Colorado State Motto is: “Nil Sine Numine – Nothing Without the Deity.” Funny or just weird?

In something that should hit the streets in a few months, I point out the folly of concentrating intel processing and analytical activities in the DC area. In the information age it makes no sense to continue to operate and house your workforce like it was the 50s. Technical aspects of the issue aside (not that they are not important) but think for a minute about the boost that would be felt in quality of life. Less stress on the home front, better output at work. I may be over-simplifying things, but ask a random GS-11 with a family who is contemplating a move to WV because it is the only decent housing he can afford if he’d rather spend 4-5 hours in a car every day, or do the same job in CO (or WA, OR, NE, MO, etc., etc.)? I think we both know the answer.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.