NSA officials have said the agency chose the Bluffdale location over 37 others because electricity is cheaper here, and land more easily available. The center will constantly use 65 megawatts of power – enough to power 33,000 houses.
The secrecy and security surrounding the facility are necessary because the center will store classified information, and the code-breaking and spying activities of its staff are also highly classified and a target for foreign spies, said a former U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the program publicly.
The official said the Salt Lake City area is ideal because of a high concentration of Mormons who have served overseas missions and learned foreign languages. The NSA relies on non-English speakers to translate communications from around the world, and Utah provides a pool of employees that meets this need, said the official.
There is another facility in Utah where the NSA has analysts who translate intercepted communications, but there will be no such analysts at the Bluffdale center, the agency said. Most of the 150 to 200 workers instead will be technicians charged with keeping the power on and the computers chilled and working.
George said the agency probably doesn’t need to be as hyper-secretive as it is but said such precautions are meant to avoid letting slip any insight that could tip off terrorist organizations and those who may wish harm upon the United States.
“It’s just not in your best interest to be talking about what you are doing,” he said.
It’s that air of uncertainty that has unnerved residents who live and work near the facility, located on the Camp Williams National Guard base. Some worry the center could become a target of terrorists if it holds so much valuable information.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>
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