Two Washington buildings figure prominently in CIA’s photo intelligence work

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For the earlier number of months in this house, we’ve been hanging about the Steuart Building at Fifth and K streets NW, the leading floors of which have been household to the CIA’s Nationwide Photographic Interpretation Center from 1956 to 1963. The put buzzed in Oct 1962 when Soviet nuclear missiles had been photographed in Cuba.

Even the most closely held tricks can be challenging to continue to keep. Jim Allen’s father, George, was in the Steuart Making for a number of several years when he was section of a compact contingent from the Army Map Service that labored there with the CIA.

Wrote Jim, of Fairfax Station: “He explained to me that he after received a cab to go there and when my father explained to the cabdriver the handle, the cabdriver claimed, ‘Oh. You are one of all those CIA fellas.’”

Dave Stinson reported there was a CIA print store on the prime flooring of the creating, with print work opportunities laid out on skids.

“On our hot D.C. summer season times the huge industrial-sizing windows have been saved open,” he wrote.

1 working day, a massive summer thunderstorm strike. Papers blew out through the windows and fluttered to the ground underneath. Wrote Dave: “The location was filled with federal government workforce gathering the wind blown documents!”

Chris Hughes’s father, John T. Hughes, labored in the Steuart Building, 1st as a image interpreter for the Defense Intelligence Agency, then as a countrywide protection briefer.

Wrote Chris: “Half our community in Annandale was performing additional time through October 1962 — a large amount of neighbors were being in the intelligence group. He explained to my mom nothing about why he couldn’t appear home for those two weeks but stated to fill the car or truck with foods and h2o and if everything transpires, choose the youngsters and go west.”

Following tensions had died down, John F. Kennedy wished the country to recognize what experienced took place. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara questioned John Hughes to provide a televised safety briefing in primary time. (You can locate it on YouTube.)

John experienced to type via photographs, obtaining ones that weren’t categorized. The visual aids were being projected on a 10-foot-significant display.

“He did not have a very long adequate pointer that day,” wrote Chris, of Herndon. “In buy to position out a feature up higher on the monitor, he employed two fishing poles another person had in their car trunk. Taped collectively he could then level to the best of the display screen.”

Carolyn Harwood worked in the Navy Garden in the 1970s and 1980s. Her carpool applied to go a developing close to there that experienced “Photographic” in its name. Wrote Carolyn: “Do you know whether the CIA had an office environment there?”

Answer Guy suspects she’s referring to Building 213, which became the residence of the NPIC in 1963 immediately after the business had outgrown the Steuart Setting up.

In contrast to the Steuart Setting up, Making 213 — on the southeast corner of Very first and M streets SE — was a governing administration business setting up, additional definitely protected. It was encircled by a chain-link fence topped in barbed wire.

Jack O’Connor, a retired CIA intelligence officer and creator of “NPIC: Looking at the Insider secrets and Rising the Leaders: A Cultural Background of the Countrywide Photographic Interpretation Center,” stated that when an extension was constructed onto the setting up in between 1984 and 1988, the chain-hyperlink fence was replaced with a wrought-iron fence and brick-faced concrete columns.

“Also at that time, the title of the group was place more than the entrance — National Photographic Interpretation Heart — so your reader in the carpool is not misremembering,” he wrote.

Morgan Birge II of Fredericksburg, Va., labored in Setting up 213 from when it opened in January 1963 until finally the late ’90s. Among his memories is viewing Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame argue with a guard at the gate, trying to get the guard to confess it was a CIA facility. Wallace was instructed to contact a cellular phone range for a lot more facts.

For the reason that of the categorised perform in Developing 213, the paperwork created there were being marked with their protection classification. That provided the cafeteria menu. “Perhaps properly deserved,” Morgan mentioned. “The way the food stuff was, they required to do that.”

Morgan mentioned that to obscure the character of the operate likely on inside of 213, the major yellow bins of movie supplies coming from Eastman Kodak were rewrapped in basic paper before shipping and delivery.

Not all the operate relevant to nationwide protection. The U.S. Geological Study occupied part of the sixth flooring, obtainable by an exterior elevator that bypassed the magic formula things.

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

Today, NPIC’s descendant — the Nationwide Geospatial-Intelligence Company — is in Springfield. Building 213 was demolished in the summer of 2014. Washington Nationals lovers could recall strolling past its locale on the way to the ballpark. There was a trapeze school on the block that once held the prime-solution facility.

Kenneth Proto

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