How The 'Information Dominance Center' Was Made To Look Like The Starship Enterprise Bridge

from the whooooosh dept

Update: As some folks pointed out in the comments, the Washington Post is noting that Alexander inherited the room, which was built a few years before he took over. Our apologies. The Foreign Policy story suggested otherwise. The Post notes that Alexander still liked to use the room to impress politicians, but he did not build it himself.

Last week, in discussing Foreign Policy magazine's giant profile on NSA boss Keith Alexander, we noted the wackiness of his decision, in an earlier job, to have the information center set up to he used a room designed to look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise to impress politicians:
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.
A few stories had popped up focusing on this tidbit, but now photos of the setup have been revealed, as the architect firm who designed it, DBI Architects, apparently at one point published a PDF about the project, complete with a bunch of pictures.
While the case study doesn't specifically call out Star Trek, it does note:
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.
While some have reported this is the NSA's headquarters, that's not true. As noted, it was back when Alexander was running the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, and the room was built back in 1999 (prior to Alexander taking on the job). Still, it does give you a sense of how Alexander "charms" politicians. And, how can we not call out the fact that this place was called the "Information Dominance Center." So aggressive.
Wouldn't it be better if the politicians involved in oversight of the intelligence community were focused on doing their jobs, rather than getting to play pretend in a taxpayer-funded Star Trek set?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    Can we...

    Fire this man?

    Out of a cannon?

    And into the sun?

    Please?

     

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

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Wouldn't it be better if you quit Masnicking?

    In the just prior item you wrote:
    Here at Techdirt, we probably cover about one quarter to one third the number of stories we'd like to (which is also why I have about a thousand open tabs of stories I'm "hoping" to get to one of these days).

    Yet here you re-hash a cutesy diverting story everyone has already seen.

    Masnicking: daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    Well....

    Can't blame the guy for wanting to work in a cool looking office - he has to work somewhere, and if it could be this - I'd want one too. But here's the real question, is the design now in the public domain - can I get one and for how much? ;-)

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    in_the_red, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:35pm

    Re: Wouldn't it be better if you quit Masnicking?

    Yawn,I wonder if you even for real'

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Wouldn't it be better if you quit Masnicking?

    Why don't you go Tweet yourself...see what I did there...

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    in_the_red, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:43pm

    Another guy with a superiority complex

    I always wonder why some people with that kind personality can't deal with their own inadequacies or even banality.

     

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

  7.  
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    Namel3ss (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:46pm

    Well this confirms it.

    The lunatics really are running the asylum.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    in_the_red, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Well this confirms it.

    Reminds me of The tick where there's a guy who can turn super heroes back to normal people by psychology.At the end of the episode,he was caught dressing up as one of his former patient's costume and pretending to be super hero.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Well....

    Oh yes ... go for it, knock yourself out.
    I'm sure the tax paying public would not object at all to picking up the tab.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    JohnParryJones, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:02pm

    Bad reporting

    Author, the chair/room was there long before Alexander got there. Check your facts again.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    '"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."'

    Bogus story.

    Everyone knows Kirk > Picard

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:48pm

    Isn't it nice to know the government is spending all that tax money wisely? We have the DoD that some how can't afford a fax machine to deal with FOI requests.

    Now we have someone that has just barely enough money to redecorate their office, struggling to some how update and modernize it. And we wonder why we are trillions in debt?

    Lets save everyone a bunch of bucks and shut down the NSA, DHS, and the TSA. We'd sure be money ahead for those seriously considering that those on social security are draining government funds.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    To spy on new life, and new civilizations. To boldly spy, where no-one has spied before.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

    the only thing we can look forward to then is that he disappears at warp speed into the unknown and doesn't return!

     

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

  15.  
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    steell (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Bad reporting

    You are 100% correct, though it took me over an hour to find it.

    " It was built, sources tell our colleague Ellen Nakashima, in 1998. Alexander took over the post in 2001."

    The Washington Post.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2013/09/16/nsa-director-inherited-star-t rek-digs/

    .

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Coogan (profile), Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    "Captain, we have entered orbit around Earth."
    "Excellent. Commence communications intercept."
    "Captain, a ship has launched from the surface and is moving to intercept our course. The ship identifies itself as the USA Constitution
    "Red alert! Evasive maneuvers! Load proton lawyer tubes!"
    "Lawyers loaded, sir."
    "Target that ship and fire!"
    "Direct hit, sir! The ship's shields have been neutralized by our Non-Disclosure Agreements and Motions to Delay"
    "Fire phasers! Pew, pew, pew!"
    "The Constitution...has been violated, captain."
    "Outstanding. Continue full communications intercept. File a report with the ship computer, redact, and bury somewhere deep in the janitorial logs."
    "Yes, sir"
    "Ahh. Another day, another victory for democracy."

    [FIN]

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 7:45pm

    Re:

    They beamed the prime directive into hyper space a long time ago.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 9:40pm

    He .... Thinks ..... He's .... Kirk .... but he probably couldn't get laid in a DC gay bar.

     

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

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 16th, 2013 @ 11:33pm

    If I were the head of the NSA, CIA, or the President, this would happen...

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 12:03am

    Hopefully the direct character assassination by the author will be avoided in the future. It is a bad quality to shoot at the man instead of his actions and it even appears that this story completely missed the target since it was his predecessors work to shape the room like that.

     

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

  21.  
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    Brazilian Guy, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:25am

    (Those who support Snowden are) "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years."
    Former NSA and CIA chief Gen. Michael Hayden.

    The Startrek bridge has been around in his time.

    Am I the only one who finds this hillarious in context?

     

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

  22.  
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    Violynne (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:43am

    Well, this is certainly going to get interesting.

    Paramount gets nasty when people violate Star Trek copyrights.

    Was nice knowing you, IDC.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:47am

    Re:

    The voice of experience

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 4:48am

    Re:

    character assassination?

    more like character suicide

     

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

  25.  
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    mmrtnt (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Priorities

    Spying gets all the mad cash.

    This is why the DOD can't afford nice things

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Wouldn't it be better if you quit Masnicking?

    it should read,

    "Why don't you go Twerk yourself"

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Dave M, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:47am

    images mirror?

    The link website isn't working, too much traffic. I want to check this out! Are there any mirror hosts for the images?

     

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

  28.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    The irony

    I find it ironic that someone admired Star Trek enough to use the theme for this office, given that the political ideals of Star Trek is the exact opposite of what an "Information Dominance Center" is all about.

     

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

  29.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    Paramount gets nasty when people violate Star Trek copyrights.

    Personally I found that room only vaguely reminiscent of the Enterprise bridge. Certainly not grounds for a meaningful claim, and it's not as though they can outwait or outspend the federal government in court like they can almost anyone else.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    A Phony's Faked-Out Overcompensation.

    It's rather pathetic, actually. Keith Alexander is not a real soldier, as most soldiers understand that term. He's more of a Pentagon bureaucrat. He seems to have been promoted rapidly, on the strength of knowing about electronics and computers, when other people didn't. Unfortunately, that isn't a recommendation in the military, not in the long run. You can be an exemplary computer whiz while living in your mom's basement, with her bringing snacks down to you every couple of hours. Real officers have to be able to inspire troops. Grunts living in a tent somewhere, and living on MRE's (Meal, Rejected by Extraterrestrials), want to feel the the boss has some understanding of, and sympathy for their position. Back when I was doing my masters thesis on military honor, back in the late 1980's, I went around campus, visiting people, and asking for suggestions. When I called on the local ROTC commandant (an artilleryman), he thought about the question, and gave me a training circular, dealing with the experience of being a platoon leader, and being woken up in the middle of the night because two of your buck privates have gotten into a bar fight, and are now sitting in the county jail. So you've got to go and spring them, and eat humble pie to the sheriff, to that end. That is very much the department in which Keith Alexander is found wanting. So naturally he feels the need to overcompensate, pretending his office is really a ship at sea. It is indicative of his essentially childish mentality.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    Re: The irony

    The agency is closer to Cardassian or Romulan than to Federation.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 10:37pm

    Re:

    you're kidding...right...?

     

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


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