Known simply as the “Utah Data Center,” the facility (shown in photo) was built to help the out-of-control federal government store the gargantuan amounts of private information the NSA lawlessly vacuums up by spying on the e-mails, Internet activities, phone calls, and other communications of Americans and people around the world. Spanning more than a million square feet and costing taxpayers an estimated $1.7 billion or more so far, the center is reportedly the largest of its kind in the world. Details about the project, including the storage capacity, are mostly classified.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained documents about the electric problems and interviewed sources involved with the project, the Orwellian facility has been plagued by system failures for the last 13 months, preventing the NSA from using the computers and databases. A project official who spoke with the newspaper described the electrical boondoggles, apparently known as “arc fault failures,” as “a flash of lightning inside a 2-foot box.” Among other problems, the surges have led to “fiery explosions,” melting metal, and failing circuits. The most recent episode happened late last month.
Based on documents and comments from sources cited in media reports, it appears that contractors and officials do not really understand the problems, though government spokespeople claim to have a handle on it all. “The failures that occurred during testing have been mitigated,” alleged NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines in a statement provided to media outlets. “A project of this magnitude requires stringent management, oversight, and testing before the government accepts any building.”
Chief of construction operations Norbert Suter with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, echoed those comments, claiming that “the cause of the electrical issues was identified by the team, and is currently being corrected by the contractor.” A report produced by Army Corps of Engineers “Tiger Team” special investigators, however, offered a different view: “We did not find any indication that the proposed equipment modification measures will be effective in preventing future incidents.” Apparently the effort to “fast track” the project bypassed normal quality control measures.
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