The Baltimore Sun has an article detailing problems with electrical power at the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland. The problems have been apparent since at least 2000 when a blackout occurred.
Agency officials anticipated the problem nearly a decade ago as they looked ahead at the technology needs of the agency, sources said, but it was never made a priority, and now the agency's ability to keep its operations going is threatened. The NSA is already unable to install some costly and sophisticated new equipment, including two new supercomputers, for fear of blowing out the electrical infrastructure, they said.
At minimum, the problem could produce disruptions leading to outages and power surges at the Fort Meade headquarters, hampering the work of intelligence analysts and damaging equipment, they said. At worst, it could force a virtual shutdown of the agency, paralyzing the intelligence operation, erasing crucial intelligence data and causing irreparable damage to computer systems — all detrimental to the fight against terrorism.
Estimates on how long the agency has to stave off such an overload vary from just two months to less than two years. NSA officials "claim they will not be able to operate more than a month or two longer unless something is done," said a former senior NSA official familiar with the problem, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Agency leaders, meanwhile, are scrambling for stopgap measures to buy time while they develop a sustainable plan. Limitations of the electrical infrastructure in the main NSA complex and the substation serving the agency, along with growing demand in the region, prevent an immediate fix, according to current and former government officials.
"If there's a major power failure out there, any backup systems would be inadequate to power the whole facility," said Michael Jacobs, who headed the NSA's information assurance division until 2002.
"It's obviously worrisome, particularly on days like today," he said in an interview during last week's barrage of triple-digit temperatures.
The agency got a taste of the potential for trouble Jan. 24, 2000, when an information overload, rather than a power shortage, caused the NSA's first-ever network crash. It took the agency 3 1/2 days to resume operations, but with a power outage it could take considerably longer to get the NSA humming again.
The 2000 shutdown rendered the agency's headquarters "brain-dead," as then-NSA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden told CBS's 60 Minutes in 2002.
"I don't want to trivialize this. This was really bad," Hayden said. "We were dark. Our ability to process information was gone."
Having spent a goodly amount of time in the utility business, this sounds like a combination of poor planning on the part of the NSA and the utility company, BGE. Typically, the utility owns everything up until the facility's own power distribution. So it sounds like the utility hasn't built enough circuits or enough capacity, but the NSA has also failed to upgrade their internal distribution equipment.
Here you have another data point that tends to show the 9/11 conspiracy nuts are completely deranged. A vital agency with a vital mission is so inept that it cannot plan it's power needs. And this government supposedly pulled off a massive conspiracy and kept it quiet?