Friday, November 14, 2008

Area 58

Area 58 also known as Defence Communications Electronic Evaluation Testing Activity, Aerospace Data Facility East, Defense CEETA, and The Mission Ground Site) is a U.S Military installation located in the in the Northeast of Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Located in a large, two-story, concrete building behind a sign labeled ''Aerospace Data Facility East'', intense secrecy protects most of the installation operations. It's at Area 58 where the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and its sister organization, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA),manage the daily operations of the imagery network.

"The DCEETA/Area 58 ground station at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia (coordinates 38 44 10 N; 77 9 30 W)." 1

Area 58 has a separate entrance from the main base, accessable from Virginia State Route 241 (Telegraph Road) near its intersection with Route 613 (Beulah Road). The site is wooded, and screened on three sides by hills. 2 A satellite view is available showing the large building near two large radomes oriented on a north south axis. 3

DCEETA is the primary downlink for satellite intellegence.

For the KH-11 and KH-12advanced KH-11 the primary ground station is the Mission Ground Site at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, about 20 miles south of Washington. It is a large, windowless, 2 story concrete building officially know as the Defense Communications Electronics Evaluation and Testing Activity (DCEETA), and also known as Area 58. While the Fort Belvoir was the only downlink for the KH-11 additional sites were added - apparantly in Hawaii and Europe." 4

Orbiting the earth every 92 minutes at an altitude of between 170 and 320 miles, the satellite's signals are first transmitted to another satellite. The pictures are then retransmitted down to analysts at the Mission Ground Site, a large, windowless, two- story concrete building at Fort Belvoir, near Washington, with the cover name of Defense Communications Electronics Evaluation and Testing Activity. For the first time, analysts can order up detailed views of target areas virtually instantly. "You can call up the KH-11," says one person familiar with the system, "and when it comes up on its geometry to the target area, you can get a photo and have it back down here, printed out, in an hour, and have it over to the White House." 5

The installation also receives and analyzes classified satellites' signals to support the Military Intelligence Corps.Apparantly, operations run 24/7/365, with automated vehicle access contro]. The guard shack is manned weekdays.

First White House Use
The first documented use of material downloaded at DCEETA was in 1977.
On January 21, 1977, Acting Director of the CIA, Mr. E. Henry Knoche met with and delivered reconnaissance satellite photographs to President Carter, that had been downloaded at DCEETA. It was the beginning of real-time imaging. 6
' "Of course," Jimmy Carter said as he turned to Brzezinski, "this will also be of value in our arms control work." The KH-11 had made its White House debut, and on that hopeful note the meeting in the Map Room came to an end.' 7

During Y2K, there were some problems downloading there:
Early on Jan. 1, NRO's Defense Communications Electronics Evaluation Testing Activity (DCEETA) at Ft. Belvoir was capable of capturing, on average, no more than 70 percent of the planned coverage by the imagery satellites. DCEETA, known within intelligence circles as Area 58, is a highly secure facility, and defense officials do not discuss operations at the complex. According to the Washington, DC-based Federation of American Scientists, however, Area 58 is responsible for the tasking and primary processing of national imagery acquired through overhead systems, like the Keyhole and Lacrosse satellites. It's at Area 58 where NRO and its sister organization, NIMA, manage the daily operations of the imagery network. 6 8
This article elaborated on the press conference of United States Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre; 8. The Federation of American Scientists reference is to a deleted essay about DCEETA by Mr John E. Pike 9.

The problem wasn't with the satellite system - they were under positive control at all times," Hamre said. "The problem was on the ground in the processing station." 10

Aside from the operational issues, the year-end complications with the imagery network generated a good deal of finger pointing. Lt. Gen. James King, the director of National Imagery and Mapping Agency, was reportedly furious over the imagery dissemination problems, which sources say stemmed from an unstable asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) switch at Ft. Belvoir, VA. The switch is operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency and has created problems in the past. King is demanding that DISA's leadership explain why the switch has not been repaired properly, these sources say." 11

According to sources, DDS NIMA's Defense Dissemination System routes imagery through DISA's ATM switch at Ft. Belvoir. From the ATM switch, the intelligence products are loaded into a "pipe," like the Defense Satellite Communication System," through which they are delivered to the various warfighting commands. However, the ATM switch has a record of poor performance, and the Dec. 27 problems produced outages of 12 hours or more for Pacific Command and Central Command, according to an internal Pentagon e-mail message." 12

In 1999, Beulah was realligned at the cost of $8 million dollars. A sign entitled ''Defense DCEETA'' was erected at the new entrance, (the old Beulah Road). In 2004, a fuel farm was built there. 13 In 2004, a 1.5 million gallon water tank was built there. 14 Currently, a Remote Delivery Facility budgeted for $17 million dollars is under construction. 14 . A parking garage is planned: "The project would increase the parking at DCEETA from 200 to 500 vehicles." 15 Maintenance Manuals have been posted online, addressed to: Facility Engineer, DCEETA, Attn: Greg Hopfer. 15 DCEETA has registered as a company on the Cotera website, using the address 8201 Beulah St.Fort Belvoir, VA 22060. 16 In 2008, the ''Defense CEETA'' sign was replaced by a ''Aerospace Data Facility East'' sign.

Software Legal Case
In 1998, in a rare appearance in open court, DCEETA was found to have broken the procurement laws, but without prejudice barring relief, in the matter of Candle Corporation, versusthe United States, and Boole and Babbage, Inc:
The procurement at issue involves MQSeries system management software. MQSeries is messaging software developed by IBM which allows business applications to integrate and communicate across desktop and mainframe systems, overcoming inconsistencies with different network protocols and all major commercial platforms. " 17

Anthrax Detection
An apparant false alarm of anthrax was sent by the DCEETA mail facility.
At 1:50 p.m. Tuesday, [date unknown], the Fort Belvoir Provost Marshal Office received notification from the Defense Communications-Electronics Evaluation and Testing Activity here of an apparent positive anthrax detection in a temporary mail handling facility within the agency’s compound." 17

U.S. Government Position on Area 58
The NRO has reaffirmed the classification of Area 58:
1.3.3.e. (U)[Unclassified] The term "Area 58" or "A-58" [may be released] when limited to the context of a very general association with the NRO, intelligence activities, imagery intelligence, or satellite reconnaissance but not revealing any geographic location information." 18

But as Mr. Bamford, in ''The New York Times'' previously noted:
The irony is that the Soviet security and intelligence organization K.G.B. probably knows more about America's spy-satellite operations than all but the few most highly cleared people in the United States. The reason for this is an abominable track record in security on the part of the C.I.A. and the satellite intelligence community as a whole." 19

For example, refer to the Russian language journal ''News of Cosmonautics'', that discusses the satellite intelligence capability:
In May, June, and December 2000, at the request from the USA, Great Britain, and Australia in accordance with resolution 58 (WRC-2000) of the ITU, entered the demands for the coordination of frequency ranges for the ground receiving stations, of the fixed communication service, provided by satellites on GSO. As for the ground stations proposed to register that are already known to the reader, Menwith Hill, Buckley (both under their own designations), and Pine Gap (under the conditional designation JDFPG, that obviously indicates Joint Defense Facility Pine Gap), and also a certain station under the conditional designation DCEETA in the territory of the USA. It is possible that by the name DCEETA is hidden the secret base NRO (Ft. Belvoir), known in reconnaissance circles as Area 58. On this base, according to data of the Federation of American Scientists, is performed processing of the specific reconnaissance information, obtained from the satellites KH and Lacrosse. The abbreviation DCEETA is deciphered as Defense Communications Electronics Evaluation Testing Activity, and serves as the designation of the subdivision NRO, where is employed the method and information processing from the reconnaissance satellites."

This is confirmed by the ITU spreadsheet showing ground stations of DCEETA and JDFPG. 22

*Bamford, James, January 13, 1985, "America's Supersecret Eyes In Space", The New York Times,
*Richelson, Jeffrey, The U.S. Intelligence Community: Fourth Edition, 1999, Westview Press, isbn 0813368936,,M1 *Burrows, William, Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security, Random House, 1986,

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