Big NSA expansion in Augusta, GA

John Gilmore gnu at
Sat Dec 23 15:48:50 EST 2006

This comes from an interesting "SIGINT and more" blog from
the Augusta "Metro Spirit", a local weekly newspaper.  Excerpts:

... Augusta is about to get a $340-million taste of Sweet Tea.

The National Security Agency is building a massive new operations
facility, dubbed project Sweet Tea. It will come complete with all the
amenities: a workout room, nursing areas, a mini-shopping center, a
credit union, an 800-seat cafeteria and thousands of exclusive parking
spaces. Secret parking spaces.

There are, of course, actual operational national security-type
elements to the project. For example, it will include a new shredder
facility (for all those classified documents) and an antenna farm (to
help listen in on enemy combatants like Osama bin Laden and Princess
Di).  ...

The document says the main new structure, a 525,000- square-foot
Regional Security Operations Center, should be complete by May 2010.

The NSA and its allies in the U.S. Congress have been pushing this
project for years. The Defense Department requested a $340.8 million
appropriation for the Georgia Regional Security Operations Center back
in February. And a construction award was scheduled for Sept. 25, NSA
documents show.

Maybe the deal was awarded on schedule. Maybe there was a
delay. Either way, it wasn't announced until Dec. 8, one day after the
Metro Spirit started calling around with questions. The announcement
was one of only eight press releases that the usually silent spy
agency had issued all year.  ...

Indeed, there is reason to believe that the NSA-Georgia project's
actual cost will be even higher than the $340 million that's
known to have been appropriated.

A military source familiar with cost analysis told the Metro Spirit
that the facilities may wind up costing more than $1 billion.  ...

Clyde Taylor, military legislative assistant to Georgia Sen. Saxby
Chambliss, said his office spent a couple of years obtaining the
appropriation. Taylor also gave credit to Georgia Rep. Charlie
Norwood, whose office issued its own press release last Friday.

The need for the new NSA facility is driven by the growth in overseas
surveillance activities, Taylor said. He said that the agency plans to
move linguists and analysts down from its Fort Meade, Md.,
headquarters to the Augusta listening station, which targets the
Middle East.

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