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24 December 2005 (Corrected from version posted 23 December 2005.)

Birdseyes from http://www.local.live.com

SCS Eyeball: http://cryptome.org/eyeball/scs/scs-eyeball.htm


Jason Vest and Wayne Madsen write of the Special Collection Service (SCS):

According to a former high-ranking intelligence official, SCS was formed in the late 1970s after competition between the NSA's embassy-based eavesdroppers and the CIA's globe-trotting bugging specialists from its Division D had become counterproductive. While sources differ on how SCS works— some claim its agents never leave their secret embassy warrens where they perform close-quarters electronic eavesdropping, while others say agents operate embassy-based equipment in addition to performing riskier "black-bag" jobs, or break-ins, for purposes of bugging— "there's a lot of pride taken in what SCS has accomplished," the former official says.

Intriguingly, the only on-the-record account of the Special Collection Service has been provided not by an American but by a Canadian. Mike Frost, formerly of the Communications Security Establishment— Canada's NSA equivalent— served as deputy director of CSE's SCS counterpart and was trained by the SCS. In a 1994 memoir, Frost describes the complexities of mounting "special collection" operations— finding ways to transport sophisticated eavesdropping equipment in diplomatic pouches without arousing suspicion, surreptitiously assembling a device without arousing suspicion in his embassy, technically troubleshooting under less than ideal conditions— and also devotes considerable space to describing visits to SCS's old College Park headquarters.

"It is not the usual sanitorium-clean atmosphere you would expect to find in a top-secret installation," writes Frost. "Wires everywhere, jerry-rigged gizmos everywhere, computers all over the place, some people buzzing around in three-piece suits, and others in jeans and t-shirts. [It was] the ultimate testing and engineering centre for any espionage equipment." Perhaps one of its most extraordinary areas was its "live room," a 30-foot-square area where NSA and CIA devices were put through dry runs, and where engineers simulated the electronic environment of cities where eavesdroppers are deployed. Several years ago, according to sources, SCS relocated to a new, 300-acre, three-building complex disguised as a corporate campus and shielded by a dense forest outside Beltsville, Maryland. Curious visitors to the site will find themselves stopped at a gate by a Department of Defense police officer who, if one lingers, will threaten arrest.



NSA-CIA Special Collection Service

Birdseye

Looking North.

Looking North.

Looking South

Looking South.

Looking South.

Looking East.

Looking West.

Looking East.

Looking East.