Inside the mind of NSA chief General Keith Alexander

Star Trek Anyone… With Taxpayer Money…

A lavish Star Trek room he had built as part of his ‘Information Dominance Center’ is endlessly revealing

Excessive? The odd room featured a giant monitor at the front, just like the fantastical starship's. Also like the Enterprise, the doors made a 'whoosh' sound when they opened

Excessive? The odd room featured a giant monitor at the front, just like the fantastical starship’s. Also like the Enterprise, the doors made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they opened (photo: dailymail.co.uk)

NSA Fallout: Brazil’s president, angry about spying, cancels state visit to U.S.

Brazils-Rousseff-Calls-of-US-Visit

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff calls off visit to Washington in the latest fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks affair.

Inside the mind of NSA chief General Keith Alexander

theguardian : It has been previously reported that the mentality of NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander is captured by his motto "Collect it All". It’s a get-everything approach he pioneered first when aimed at an enemy population in the middle of a war zone in Iraq, one he has now imported onto US soil, aimed at the domestic population and everyone else.

But a perhaps even more disturbing and revealing vignette into the spy chief’s mind comes from a new Foreign Policy article describing what the journal calls his "all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine". The article describes how even his NSA peers see him as a "cowboy" willing to play fast and loose with legal limits in order to construct a system of ubiquitous surveillance. But the personality driving all of this – not just Alexander’s but much of Washington’s – is perhaps best captured by this one passage, highlighted by PBS’ News Hour in a post entitled: "NSA director modeled war room after Star Trek’s Enterprise". The room was christened as part of the "Information Dominance Center":

"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."

Numerous commentators remarked yesterday on the meaning of all that (note, too, how "Total Information Awareness" was a major scandal in the Bush years, but "Information Dominance Center" – along with things like "Boundless Informant" – are treated as benign or even noble programs in the age of Obama).

But now, on the website of DBI Architects, Inc. of Washington and Reston, Virginia, there are what purports to be photographs of the actual Star-Trek-like headquarters commissioned by Gen. Alexander that so impressed his Congressional overseers. It’s a 10,740 square foot labyrinth in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The brochure touts how "the prominently positioned chair provides the commanding officer an uninterrupted field of vision to a 22′-0" wide projection screen":

DBI

The glossy display further describes how "this project involved the renovation of standard office space into a highly classified, ultramodern operations center." Its "primary function is to enable 24-hour worldwide visualization, planning, and execution of coordinated information operations for the US Army and other federal agencies." It gushes: "The futuristic, yet distinctly military, setting is further reinforced by the Commander’s console, which gives the illusion that one has boarded
a star ship":

DBI

Other photographs of Gen. Alexander’s personal Star Trek Captain fantasy come-to-life (courtesy of public funds) are here. Any casual review of human history proves how deeply irrational it is to believe that powerful factions can be trusted to exercise vast surveillance power with little accountability or transparency. But the more they proudly flaunt their warped imperial hubris, the more irrational it becomes.

Related issues

(1) Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler has an excellent Op-Ed in the Guardian arguing that the NSA is so far out-of-control that radical measures, rather than incremental legislative reform, are necessary to rein it in.

(2) The Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood, usually a reform-minded transparency advocate somewhat hostile to massive leaks, examines the serious reform which Snowden’s disclosures are enabling, as reluctantly acknowledged even by the FISA court and James Clapper himself.

(3) British comedian Russell Brand attended an event sponsored by GQ and Hugo Boss and gave a speech, while accepting an award, which offended almost everyone in the room (that speech is here). He then wrote a genuinely brilliant (and quite hilarious) Op-Ed in the Guardian about the role elite institutions play in reinforcing their legitimacy and how they maintain control of public discourse. It is well worth taking the time to read it.

Aye, sir: Now he's the leader of the embroiled NSA, an organization whose name has become synonymous with domstic spying since revelations that followed the Edward Snowden leak

Aye, sir: Now General Keith Alexander is the leader of the embroiled NSA, an organization whose name has become synonymous with domestic spying since revelations that followed the Edward Snowden leak (photo: dailymail.co.uk)

UPDATE

Speaking of rampant, Strangelove-like megalomania in the National Security State, do read these remarkable comments from former NSA and CIA chief Gen. Michael Hayden regarding how the US views the internet.

Read more: 

The Cowboy of the NSA – By Shane Harris

WSJ: NSA can spy on up to 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic

About Ask Marion

I am a babyboomer and empty nester who savors every moment of my past and believes that it is the responsibility of each of us in my generation and Americans in general to make sure that America is as good or even a better place for future generations as it was for us. So far... we haven't done very well!! Favorite Quotes: "The first 50 years are to build and acquire; the second 50 are to leave your legacy"; "Do something that scares you every day!"; "The journey in between what you once were and who you are becoming is where the dance of life really takes place". At age 62 I find myself fighting inoperable uterine Cancer and thanks to the man upstairs and the prayers from so many people including many of my readers from AskMarion and JustOneMorePet... I'm beating it. After losing our business because of the economy and factors related to the re-election of President Obama in 2012 followed by 16-mos of job hunting, my architect-trained husband is working as a trucker and has only been home approximately 5-days a month since I was diagnosed, which has made everything more difficult and often lonely... plus funds are tight. Our family medical deductible is 12K per year for two of us; thank you ObamaCare. But thanks to donations from so many of you, we are making ends meet as I go through treatment while taking care of my father-in-law who is suffering from late stage Alzheimer's and my mother-in-law who suffers from RA and onset dementia as well as hearing loss, for which there are no caretaker funds, as I continue the fight here online to inform and help restore our amazing country. And finally I need to thank a core group of family, friends, and readers... all at a distance, who check in with me regularly. Plus, I must thank my furkids who have not left my side through this fight. You can see them at JustOneMorePet.
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3 Responses to Inside the mind of NSA chief General Keith Alexander

  1. Pingback: It is a Wrap!! Ask Marion 9.15.13 – 9.22.13 Fall Is Here Edition | askmarion

  2. Pingback: Obama’s NSA Speech: More Politics Than Policy Reform | askmarion

  3. Pingback: EXCLUSIVE: Former NSA Employee Speaks Out About its Corruption | askmarion

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