The NSA’s New Secret Spy Hub

Inside the matrix. James Bamford on the vast new National Security Agency surveillance center going up in the Utah desert.

This Sept. 19, 2007, file photo, shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The military intelligence complex an hour outside Washington  is known as a cloak-and-dagger sanctum off-limits to the rest of the world. (AP)

This Sept. 19, 2007 photo shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The military intelligence complex an hour outside Washington is known as a cloak-and-dagger sanctum off-limits to the rest of the world. (AP)

These days you can store a terabyte of data on a flash drive the size of a pinky finger.  Right now outside Salt Lake City, Utah, the National Security Agency is building a top-secret, state-of-the-art data center of one million square feet.

It will move what they’re calling “yottabytes” of data.  Oceans.  Including, maybe, yours.  E-mails, phone calls, Google searches, parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases.  Investigative reporter James Bamford says watch out.

This hour, On Point:  Surveillance, domestic surveillance, and the super spy center going up in the desert.

-Tom Ashbrook


Steve Fidel, a reporter for The Deseret News and KSL radio and former editor of You can see photos of the new facility from the Deseret News here.

James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. His recent article in Wired magazine on the NSA’s new facility in Utah is here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wired “Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.”

Forbes “The story adds confirmation to what the New York Times revealed in 2005: that the NSA has engaged in widespread wiretapping of Americans with the consent of firms like AT&T and Verizon. But more interestingly–and more troubling in the eyes of many who value their privacy–it details the Agency’s plans to crack AES encryption, the cryptographic standard certified by the NSA itself in 2009 for military and government use and until now considered uncrackable in any amount of time relevant to mortals.”

Computer World “Yet when Congressman Hank Johnson asked NSA chief General Keith Alexander if the NSA could hunt down every email bashing Dick Cheney for waterboarding, Alexander testified, “No.” Alexander spoke in front of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The “NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States.””

Video: NSA Chief Denies Bamford Report

Here is National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander answering questions about the Wired story. He said that the NSA did not have the capability to monitor, inside the United States.


Here is a satellite view of the NSA facility under construction in Utah.

View map in a larger map

NSA Facility Details

This presentation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows some schematics of the NSA facility.

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