Two Washington buildings determine prominently in CIA’s picture intelligence work


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For the previous few weeks on this house, we’ve been hanging across the Steuart Constructing at Fifth and Ok streets NW, the highest flooring of which have been dwelling to the CIA’s Nationwide Photographic Interpretation Middle from 1956 to 1963. The place buzzed in October 1962 when Soviet nuclear missiles have been photographed in Cuba.

Even probably the most intently held secrets and techniques could be exhausting to maintain. Jim Allen’s father, George, was within the Steuart Constructing for a number of years when he was a part of a small contingent from the Military Map Service that labored there with the CIA.

Wrote Jim, of Fairfax Station: “He instructed me that he as soon as obtained a cab to go there and when my dad instructed the cabdriver the handle, the cabdriver stated, ‘Oh. You’re a kind of CIA guys.’”

Dave Stinson stated there was a CIA print store on the highest ground of the constructing, with print jobs laid out on skids.

“On our sizzling D.C. summer season days the big industrial-size home windows have been saved open,” he wrote.

Someday, a large summer season thunderstorm hit. Papers blew out by means of the home windows and fluttered to the bottom under. Wrote Dave: “The realm was stuffed with authorities workers amassing the wind blown paperwork!”

Chris Hughes’s father, John T. Hughes, labored within the Steuart Constructing, first as a photograph interpreter for the Protection Intelligence Company, then as a nationwide safety briefer.

Wrote Chris: “Half our neighborhood in Annandale was working extra time throughout October 1962 — quite a lot of neighbors have been within the intelligence group. He instructed my mother nothing about why he couldn’t come dwelling for these two weeks however stated to fill the automobile with meals and water and if something occurs, take the youngsters and go west.”

After tensions had died down, John F. Kennedy wished the nation to grasp what had occurred. Protection Secretary Robert McNamara requested John Hughes to ship a televised safety briefing in prime time. (You’ll find it on YouTube.)

John needed to type by means of pictures, discovering ones that weren’t labeled. The visible aids have been projected on a 10-foot-high display screen.

“He didn’t have an extended sufficient pointer that day,” wrote Chris, of Herndon. “So as to level out a function up excessive on the display screen, he used two fishing poles somebody had of their automobile trunk. Taped collectively he may then level to the highest of the display screen.”

Carolyn Harwood labored within the Navy Yard within the Seventies and Eighties. Her carpool used to move a constructing close to there that had “Photographic” in its title. Wrote Carolyn: “Are you aware whether or not the CIA had an workplace there?”

Reply Man suspects she’s referring to Constructing 213, which grew to become the house of the NPIC in 1963 after the group had outgrown the Steuart Constructing.

In contrast to the Steuart Constructing, Constructing 213 — on the southeast nook of First and M streets SE — was a authorities workplace constructing, extra clearly safe. It was encircled by a chain-link fence topped in barbed wire.

Jack O’Connor, a retired CIA intelligence officer and writer of “NPIC: Seeing the Secrets and techniques and Rising the Leaders: A Cultural Historical past of the Nationwide Photographic Interpretation Middle,” stated that when an extension was constructed onto the constructing between 1984 and 1988, the chain-link fence was changed with a wrought-iron fence and brick-faced concrete columns.

“Additionally at the moment, the title of the group was put over the doorway — Nationwide Photographic Interpretation Middle — so your reader within the carpool just isn’t misremembering,” he wrote.

Morgan Birge II of Fredericksburg, Va., labored in Constructing 213 from when it opened in January 1963 till the late ’90s. Amongst his recollections is watching Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame argue with a guard on the gate, trying to get the guard to confess it was a CIA facility. Wallace was instructed to name a cellphone quantity for extra data.

Due to the labeled work in Constructing 213, the paperwork generated there have been marked with their safety classification. That included the cafeteria menu. “Maybe effectively deserved,” Morgan stated. “The best way the meals was, they wanted to do this.”

Morgan stated that to obscure the character of the work happening inside 213, the large yellow containers of movie provides coming from Eastman Kodak have been rewrapped in plain paper earlier than supply.

Not all of the work associated to nationwide safety. The U.S. Geological Survey occupied a part of the sixth ground, accessible by an outdoor elevator that bypassed the key stuff.

“This workplace investigated the rocks introduced again from the moon,” Morgan wrote.

As we speak, NPIC’s descendant — the Nationwide Geospatial-Intelligence Company — is in Springfield. Constructing 213 was demolished in the summertime of 2014. Washington Nationals followers could keep in mind strolling previous its location on the way in which to the ballpark. There was a trapeze college on the block that when held the top-secret facility.


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