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Turns Out The NSA Doesn't Really Want Drop-In Visitors (With Cameras) At Their New Utah Spy Facility

from the though-they're-a-bit-confused-about-it-all dept

The NSA's new super digital spying facility in Bluffdale, Utah got plenty of attention about a year ago, thanks to a detailed article in Wired Magazine by James Bamford that revealed many details of the center's existence. Last week, on something of a whim, Forbes reporter Kash Hill, who was nearby for another reason, decided to just drive up to the facility to see what she could see. It turns out that it was surprisingly easy to drive right up to the parking lot (though she later realized she had missed two small signs, saying that the road was private and that trespassing was not allowed). Still, you'd think that the place, even while (or perhaps especially while) under construction, wouldn't be that easy to access. Amusingly, it appears that whoever the NSA hired to program their entrance sign has a sense of humor:
However, the guards who eventually came to see what Hill was doing didn't have quite the same sense of humor, asking her repeatedly to delete all the photos she had taken, and taking her ID (and that of the other person in the car who, thankfully, happened to be a knowledgeable lawyer who was able to speak up for their rights). You can read the entire harrowing tale at that link above, but Hill is eventually allowed to leave, though she did agree to delete a couple images that showed the license plate on a guard SUV, realizing that she just wanted to get out of there. The whole story is a bit surreal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    they asked them ONLY to delete the photos and have not confiscated the entire memory card?
    They got off easy... surely they know that almost any deleted photo on a camera flash drive/usb drive can be recovered these days, right?

    hint: cgsecurity.org PhotoRec

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    ZEM, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    It's OK. Anyone can find this place. They just need to drive over a bridge and past a cocktail party.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

    Turnabout is fair play

    Any chance we could ask the NSA to delete the photos in their possession?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    rorybaust (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

    nothing a drone flyover could not achieve

    the really funny thing is the same technology that the US Govt use to spy on everyone could also be used to spy on this facility.

    I think the bad guys are already watching , keeping you own people in the dark seems counter intuitive

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Sam, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re:

    1 setec astronomy ave.

     

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  6.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Re: nothing a drone flyover could not achieve

    Can drones drop small creepy crawly robot bugs in areas where Newton's laws have not been repealed by congress?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Lance, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:28pm

    Technically speaking, and if the proper signs were posted, they would have no say about search and/or seizure of their property while on the premise of a federal installation.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    really?, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:33pm

    what?

    no sam fisher guarding the gate? shameful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Beech, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Tresspassing on a "secret" "secure" government installation (in progress) could net you a LOT worse then a quick ID check by some guards and losing a couple photos. Ill advised. Drone flyovers would be awesome though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Re:

    It's not really secret if an article about the place was published a year ago and if you have a sign that has your agency's logo on it. And apparently, it's not very secure either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    McCrea (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    I remember when we got off the Metro inside the Pentagon at night. (They should lock that elevator if they don't want visitors.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Most likely the reason that is was not really very secure is that the reporter was outside the secure area and in the construction area parking lot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Off Topic - Kind Of - Watch the Skies

    Dear Senator Paul,

    On February 20, 2013, you write to John Brennan requesting additional information concerning the administration's views about whether "the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial."

    As members of this Administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and have no intention of doing so. As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individual have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.

    The question you have posed is entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur and we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001.

    Were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the President on the scope of his authority.

    Sincerely,

    Eric Holder,
    Attorney General

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 5:41pm

    Seems like "missing" two signs on your way to a location you know to be a sensitive government intelligence facility strains believability. More likely the reporter, coincidently accompanied by a lawyer was there hoping for a confrontation, resulting in a "harrowing" story of their own deliberate manufacture.

    I didn't bother with reading her riveting account as sorting my sock drawer seems like a better use of my time than indulging her concocted story telling.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 8:22pm

    Re: nothing a drone flyover could not achieve

    The "Bad guys" don't need drones, the US government probably willingly employs them but is too incompetent to do anything about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Mar 5th, 2013 @ 9:09pm

    Quick correction Mike,

    It's Kashmir not Kash...

    Other than this sounds like Kashmir, always trying to poke the batshit crazies with sticks *in joke..she'll get it* ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    anon, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re:

    too many secrets

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    I knew a guy who worked at one of these centers back in the 50's. "This is only the half that you can see" sure aint far from the truth. The NSA has been monitoring every single electronic communication possible since people started sending them. To think this practice, and for that matter this type of facility, is anything new would be foolish.

    If you think this can't possibly be true, go out and buy a brand new laptop / phone / tablet (wont matter) and pay in cash - better even if you don't buy retail - better even if you "happen upon one". Do nothing to input any sort of identifiable information indicating the device is owned / seen / acknowledge / known to exist to your persons. Then spend the next few weeks doing nothing but researching terrorist related content, use all the good keywords like BOMB, CELL, SLEEPER, ACTIVATE, DETONATORS, etc.. Jump around towns, use free wifi, travel to neighboring states and even after all that effort to remain anonymous before long a nice man in a black suit will come to visit your home to "ask some questions." (Only recommend doing this if you want quick access to the NO FLY LIST)

    Anyway.. it's always nice seeing your non-ratified tax dollars being used to further trample whatever microscopic shreds of freedom and rights are left (probably none).

    GO MERIKA!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 3:03am

    Re: Off Topic - Kind Of - Watch the Skies

    actaully, that response is more useful than it first appears- it says that yes, the president has the authority to, however, it would require a truly serious threat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Where's out_of_the_blue yelling about how they should have been shot for daring to to trespass (and ragging on Masnick for being so lame as to writie this article)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Must be his day off. Either that or his pager's not working.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Chicken Pox?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Malaria maybe. Do they have mosquitos in Hell?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Mosquitos in Hell? Yeah, they do. According to Dante they're 3 circles above Downloaders I think...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Re:

    Tom Thomas
    Mike Michael
    Sue Susan
    Kash Kashmir

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Mar 6th, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Off Topic - Kind Of - Watch the Skies

    > actaully, that response is more useful
    > than it first appears- it says that yes,
    > the president has the authority to, however,
    > it would require a truly serious threat

    Makes sense, too. I mean, it doesn't take much imagination to conceive of a scenario where the president might need to consider the 'needs of the many over the needs of the few'.

    Another hijacked plane on a suicide run toward a crowded football stadium or skyscraper... it would be legitimate to shoot it down even though there are innocent citizens on board, because the cost of not doing so would be far greater. Due process and time would not be an available luxury in such a situation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    anon anon anon, Mar 12th, 2013 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Why are you replying to yourself?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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