Illustration for article titled NSA Honcho built Enterprise bridge replica to sell Congress on spying

How did the National Security Administration sell Congress on its controversial spying program? Apparently by building a replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise bridge and letting lawmakers sit in the big chair and "play Picard."

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(Update: Added a picture. Update #2: This wasn't the NSA, but Alexander's prior job. Sorry for the mix-up.)

As Foreign Policy's profile of the NSA's general Keith Alexander explains:

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.

Alexander wowed members of Congress with his eye-popping command center. And he took time to sit with them in their offices and explain the intricacies of modern technology in simple, plain-spoken language. He demonstrated a command of the subject without intimidating those who had none.

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Read the whole fascinating profile over at Foreign Policy. [via BoingBoing]

Update: I found what appears to be a picture of the Information Dominance Center, although I'm not sure if this is the version that was designed to look like the Enterprise. Here it is, via DBI Architects:

Illustration for article titled NSA Honcho built Enterprise bridge replica to sell Congress on spying

Update #2: Someone pointed out that this was actually the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, when Alexander was running it — so this was prior to him joining the NSA, although he was in fact using a Star Trek "Enterprise" bridge to sell Congress on surveillance schemes. Sorry about the mixup.

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