US state home to new mega-warehouse for data

Jun 13, 2013 by Brady Mccombs
This June 6, 2013, photo, shows an aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a militia base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails.

Two small, weathered signs in the sagebrush greet interlopers to this place with a stark warning: "Military reservation. No trespassing." But there is no visible marker bearing the facility's name and operator: The Utah Data Center, run by the .

When it opens this autumn, the facility will be the NSA's largest center in the U.S. Just don't ask Utah officials, and certainly not the residents of tiny Bluffdale, just north of the new center, to tell you exactly what will go on inside. They either don't know, or aren't saying. And the NSA is famously tight-lipped.

"We know it's a spy center. But who are they spying on?" said Connie Robbins, an upholstery shop owner who lives in Bluffdale, a community of 8,000 south of Salt Lake City that is known for its rodeo and annual Old West Days.

The dearth of information has perpetuated a mystery that has spawned dozens of theories and a spoof website that even includes a phony code name for the facility: "Bumblehive," a play on Utah's nickname of the "Beehive State."

Last week's revelation that the NSA is collecting millions of U.S. phone records along with stored by nine major Internet providers illustrates how aggressively personal information is being congregated and analyzed—and shines a brighter light on what will be going on in secret at the Utah facility, scheduled to open in October.

This June 7, 2013 file photo, shows a military no trespassing sign shown in front of Utah's NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

NSA officials say the center will play a key role in the U.S. effort to protect national security networks, and allow U.S. authorities to monitor for potential cyberthreats. In an email, agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines said that "many unfounded allegations have been made about the planned activities" of the center.

"NSA would like to confirm, on the record, that the Utah Data Center is a state-of-the-art data facility designed to support the U.S. intelligence community's efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation. Its operations will be lawfully conducted in accordance with U.S. laws and policies," Vines wrote.

She provided no additional details, however.

Richard "Dickie" George, who retired from the NSA in 2011 after 40 years, said the facility isn't nearly as interesting or mysterious as some think. He calls it little more than a giant storeroom. Inundated with increasing volumes of secretly taped phone calls, intercepted emails and poached records of online purchases, the NSA needed a mega-warehouse to put it all, he said.

This June 6, 2013 photo, shows an aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

"It's just a big file cabinet out in the Western area," said George, once a senior technical leader at the agency. "There is no spying going on there."

NSA agents elsewhere will comb through the data stored in Utah as the agency attempts to understand how terrorist groups operate and who plays what roles, George said. Emails, articles, websites and videos on the Internet may hold clues about such activities, he said.

This Monday, June 10, 2013 photo shows a ground level view of Utah's NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

James Bamford, the author of several books on the NSA who last year wrote about the Utah center in Wired magazine, asserts that the facility will serve as the central depository for everything the NSA intercepts, functioning as the agency's "cloud." Analysts at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, and other agency sites will be able to access the information by way of secure, fiber-optic cables, he said.

The mammoth center, which cost some $1.7 billion, will allow the agency to store more and, perhaps more importantly, keep information for much longer. Bamford theorizes the facility will be able to hold a so-called yottabyte of information, the largest measurement computer scientists have. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text, said Bamford, who believes the Utah center will store those phone records NSA gathered from Verizon Communications.

This June 6, 2013 photo shows an aerial view of the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

"Every day you pick up a telephone and call your grandmother or call your sons and daughters and mothers and fathers and whoever, records of those calls will be all kept in there—and may be kept in there forever. Who knows?" Bamford said.

In response, NSA spokeswoman Vines stressed that the agency is not "unlawfully listening in on, or reading emails of, U.S. citizens."

This Monday, June 10, 2013 photo, shows a ground level view of Utah's NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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.

This June 6, 2013, photo, shows an aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The official said the 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.

A welcome to Bluffdale sign is shown in front of Utah's NSA Data Center Wednesday, June 12, 2013,in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The long, squat buildings span 1.5 million square feet, and are filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of information gathered secretly from phone calls and emails. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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.

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User comments : 19

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kochevnik
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2013
Only terrorists around are in Bluffdale, Utah with their masonic Mormon mafia. Imagine Mitt Romney mind-merged with Skynet. All acts of terrorism in USA were conducted by the FBI and friends. USA wants to micro-manage their 99% slaves, forcing them to labor for worthless zionist paper backed by naked, ruthless force. USA is a branch of the zionist bankster war machine stealing the wealth of the planed for a few dozen sociopaths
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (8) Jun 13, 2013
not "unlawfully listening in on, or reading emails of, U.S. citizens."

Which basically means: The laws that are on the books are crap (and possibly unconstitutional).

Just because something isn't unlawful doesn't make it right.
But I guess each nation has to learn the difference between a justice system and a just system the hard way.
geokstr
1 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2013
Let's see, now - there is no "right of privacy" for your phone calls, nor for credit card transactions, nor your bank transfers, nor your emails, nor your health records, nor your political donations, nor the content of your prayers, nor your and your childrens' social media postings, nor your legally sealed divorce transcripts, nor, apparently for your blog comments, including on this one.

But there totally is a legal consensus that the Constitution contains an aroma leaking out of an aura that seeps from a willow-o-the-wisp emanating from a penumbra, or something, that there is an absolute right for a woman to kill that cancerous growth in her womb, that in 95% of cases is due to her own irresponsibility and for her convenience, at any time, for any reason. And now we can tack on the absolute right for females of any age to get over the counter RU-486, as long as she's tall enough for the rides at Disney, w/o parental notification.

The only thing Orwell got wrong was the year.
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 13, 2013
Apart from the personal issue there are even eonomic issues at stake.

Consider that no information transaction you do is safe from the NSA. How many businesses would want to operate in such an environment (especially foreign investors).

If you still think what they're doing is OK, then you have to ask yourslf: why do you think China spying on everyone and everything in their own country (including and foremost foreign investors) is OK? If you think it's OK then you're consitent. If not then you have a bit of explaining to do.

(And just saying "but the NSA are the good guys" certainly isn't good enough to merit a distinction)
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2013
blahblah...All acts of terrorism in USA were conducted by the FBI and friends...blahblahblah... USA is a branch of the zionist bankster war machine stealing the wealth of the planed for a few dozen sociopaths
These efforts are necessary to keep track of genuine threats like the KGB and these guys:

"Around the world, Russian mafia groups have popped up as dominating particular areas: Alec Simchuk and his group ripped-off and robbed unsuspecting tourists and businessmen in South Florida, leading to Rick Brodsky of the FBI to say that "Eurasian organised crime is our no. 1 priority"
Just because something isn't unlawful doesn't make it right
-And also to keep track of Stasi.
the Constitution contains an aroma leaking out of an aura that seeps from a willow-o-the-wisp emanating from a penumbra
Writing this must have been like passing a kidney stone. Go find a nice island full of bad poets to live why dont you?
krundoloss
1 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2013
I think its all in an attempt to use the internet, telephone and social network information to tap into the "Collective Unconscious". I forget where I heard about it, on "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman" I think, but its a real phenomenon that is said to be able to predict financial market crashes and other things. It is definitely true that the US Government is undeniably acting as Big Brother, but to what end? Stop terrorists? Stop a nationwide rebellion? Or to use thier power to stop any threats very quickly! Just like in the Batman: Dark Knight movie, where Batman hacked everyone's cell phones and was able to map out an entire buliding and locate the people inside, it gives too much power to too few people. Lets hope this power will be used well......
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2013
Consider that no information transaction you do is safe from the NSA. How many businesses would want to operate in such an environment (especially foreign investors)
-As many as would appreciate the exceptional security that their business transactions enjoy here in the US, and nowhere else, because of the oversight of agencies such as this.

Large corporations appreciate the need for security that perhaps euro disneyworld inhabitants with no clue, do not.
why do you think China spying on everyone and everything in their own country (including and foremost foreign investors) is OK?
-Or you can ask yourself why china finds it more difficult (but not impossible) to spy on companies here in the US? It is because of our excellent ongoing anti-spying efforts...which you will find nowhere else..

If you ask the wrong questions AA, of course you are going to get the wrong answers. Let me ask one: what companies ar planning to leave as a result of these revelations? Name ONE.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2013
As many as would appreciate the exceptional security that their business transactions enjoy here in the US, and nowhere else, because of the oversight of agencies such as this.

I dunno - as there are pretty damning indications that such 'safekeeping' by the NSA has lead to trade secrets being leaked to american firms in the past. I'm certain companies will think twice about setting up shop under such 'surveillance' in the future.

It is because of our excellent ongoing anti-spying efforts...which you will find nowhere else..

Overhearing your own phones - of every citizen - is combatting chinese spying efforts exactly...how?

what companies ar planning to leave as a result of these revelations?

Leave? Probably none. The damage is already done. I said: "setting up shop". Companies will think aboout whether there aren't better alternatives to opening branches in the US.
(And certainly tourists will consider going elsewhere)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2013
but its a real phenomenon that is said to be able to predict financial market crashes and other things. It is definitely true that the US Government is undeniably acting as Big Brother, but to what end?
Why would spy agencies need to look for such things when they are Run by the Entity which Plans and Times such events?

Market crashes are an inevitable stage in the inevitable economic cycles. They cannot be avoided. As such they present an unacceptable threat to civilization. Just like war.

BUT they can be anticipated and Planned for, and Arranged to happen at the Proper Time. An Entity which is capable of doing these things can use them for constructive Purposes and can thus reap unimaginable wealth and power.

But what good is wealth if the system which guarantees it is crumbling all around you? Power is worthless unless there is a Plan. Ask solomon.

"There is a [Proper] time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens" ecc3
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2013
I dunno - as there are pretty damning indications that such 'safekeeping' by the NSA has lead to trade secrets being leaked to american firms in the past. I'm certain companies will think twice about setting up shop under such 'surveillance' in the future
-And what are the chances of trade secrets being stolen without such oversights?
Overhearing your own phones - of every citizen - is combatting chinese spying efforts exactly...how?
Where did you read this crap?? The NSA was only collecting data on who was talking to who and when. The system was approved by a court of law, and it was successful in thwarting dozens of terrorist attacks.
(And certainly tourists will consider going elsewhere)
Yes I am sure young arabs with bogus student visas will look for softer venues with cheaper pressure cookers. Hard to beat walmart prices tho.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2013
And what are the chances of trade secrets being stolen without such oversights?

If the overseer is the one stealing the secrets: by definition - less.

beleg
1 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2013
The profits (prophets?) speak for themselves. If all terror organizations call everybody and everybody calls a terror organization, then this is a profit gain for all telecommunication industries of unheard proportions. The advertising slogan for this unprecedented event?

Everybody in, nobody out?
No one left behind?

Only fair that the telecommunication industries honor this additional traffic at a reduced cost.
Now where did I misplace those no bid contracts for new facilities?
maxb500_live_nl
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 13, 2013
It sure costs a lot of money and effort to spy on the American people.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2013
And what are the chances of trade secrets being stolen without such oversights?

If the overseer is the one stealing the secrets: by definition - less.
Yeah lets see what a rabid liberal has to say about your paranoid delusions...

"The NSA does not need a court order to search the database it maintains of the call data surrendered by the nation's telecommunications firms, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein told reporters on Thursday"

-Your knee is jerking spasmodically. Restless leg syndrome can lead to early death. Better have that checked out.
The profits (prophets?) speak for themselves. If all terror organizations call everybody and everybody calls a terror organization, then this is a profit gain for all telecommunication industries of unheard proportions
Hey heres one.
http://www.rickro...hcm.html

-Have at it.
VendicarE
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2013
"Let's see, now - there is no "right of privacy" for your phone calls, nor for credit card transactions, nor your bank transfers, nor your emails, nor your health records, nor your political donations, nor the content of your prayers, nor your and your childrens' social media postings, nor your legally sealed divorce transcripts, nor, apparently for your blog comments, including on this one." - Geoksr

Ya, those "terrorists" hate you because of your "freedom".

Bahahahahahahahahah..... Morons.
TheKnowItAll
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2013
If it was built with full legal and moral intentions there would be no need for secrecy simply because pretty much everyone would agree to it. Also odds are that the terrorists are smart enough to use a one-time encryption method. All I can see this facility could be used for is anti-hacking, slow down viral infection proliferation and spy on the people to learn what the politicians should say to appease the people at their next speeches lol
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2013
"The NSA does not need a court order to search the database it maintains of the call data surrendered by the nation's telecommunications firms"

And you don't think it should?

Those who would sacrifice freedom for security ...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 14, 2013
And you don't think it should?

Those who would sacrifice freedom for security ..blah
I would defer to the experts who 1) say it is necessary and 2) say it is legal. Because they both confirm my opinion that it is both necessary and legal.

Hey we're at war over here - show some respect.

In related news

"Barack Obama's White House has announced the US plans to supply military support to Syria's rebels after confirming evidence of chemical weapons"

-This type of activity was also sanctioned a few gens ago by a guy named truman:

"If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word."

-See how things are Done?
stealthc
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2013
The cyberthreat is you, the ordinary citizen.