NSA Chief Used Replica Of Set From Popular 'Star Trek' TV Program To Impress Congresscritters, Win Support For Spying
Foreign Policy has a detailed, insightful profile of the "cowboy" approach to surveillance taken by NSA Director Keith Alexander. There's a lot of important, outrageous, we-should-be-worried-about-this stuff in there about his cavalier approach to the law and to civil liberties and privacy. And we're going to completely ignore all that, because somebody sent us a link to this BoingBoing post and all we could think was, "Oooh, SHINY!" Cory Doctorow sets up the part of the story that matters to us:
[The] top spook is fan of science fiction movies and built his old command room to look like the bridge of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He sold members of Congress by letting them sit in the big chair and "play Picard."
OK, look, we know that we should be seriously bothered by this, and on one level we are. But at the moment, our inner 12-year-old is running our grey matter, so we can only murmur, "Cooooooool."
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.
Seriously, we want to go to there. We totally want to sit in the Big Chair. Can we still be members of Liberal Club if we say that's both freaking wonderful AND that it has worrisome implications for, you know, freedom-n-democracy? Fun's fun, but it sounds like Alexander was not really following the Prime Directive.
Also, doors that go "whoosh."
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.