Remember a few months ago when some conservatives looking to beat up on the IRS leaked a Star Trek parody video, which was used as a part of an IRS training conference back in 2010, to all the major US TV networks, radio networks, and newspapers?
All over a video that cost a few tens of thousands of dollars. Yeah, the poutragers say that it was about the whole conference, but really, it was about the Star Trek parody video — that was the hook on which their poutrage hung.
Meanwhile, I have to go to either the PBS website or an overseas news source (in this case, a Guardian column by Glenn Greenwald) to find out about a much more expensive and far less benign taxpayer-funded Star Trek parody — although in this case, I think it’s more of an obsession:
It has been previously reported that the mentality of NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander is captured by his motto ‘Collect it All.’ It’s a get-everything approach he pioneered first when aimed at an enemy population in the middle of a war zone in Iraq, one he has now imported onto US soil, aimed at the domestic population and everyone else.
But a perhaps even more disturbing and revealing vignette into the spy chief’s mind comes from a new Foreign Policy article describing what the journal calls his ‘all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine.’ The article describes how even his NSA peers see him as a ‘cowboy”‘ willing to play fast and loose with legal limits in order to construct a system of ubiquitous surveillance. But the personality driving all of this – not just Alexander’s but much of Washington’s – is perhaps best captured by this one passage, highlighted by PBS’ News Hour in a post entitled: ‘NSA director modeled war room after Star Trek’s Enterprise.’ The room was christened as part of the ‘Information Dominance Center:’
‘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.’
So what does it look like? Allegedly, like this:
But now, on the website of DBI Architects, Inc. of Washington and Reston, Virginia, there are what purports to be photographs of the actual Star-Trek-like headquarters commissioned by Gen. Alexander that so impressed his Congressional overseers. It’s a 10,740 square foot labyrinth in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The brochure touts how ‘the prominently positioned chair provides the commanding officer an uninterrupted field of vision to a 22′-0″ wide projection screen’ …
The glossy display further describes how ‘this project involved the renovation of standard office space into a highly classified, ultramodern operations center.’ Its ‘primary function is to enable 24-hour worldwide visualization, planning, and execution of coordinated information operations for the US Army and other federal agencies.’ It gushes: ‘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’ …
See also the photo above, or just click here before DBI pulls the link. I’ll bet turning 10,740 square feet of boring old office space into Alexander the Not-So-Great’s NSA imperial fantasy cost a lot more than the whole 2010 IRS training budget did.
As a PBS website commenter said: “He really needed the ‘whoosh’ sound on the doors. How many kids didn’t get to go to Head Start to pay for that?”
And yet you won’t hear a word of condemnation over this from FOX, CBS, NBC, or ABC.