Tags:
  1. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566

    US Intel Building Beneath Walmart

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Hubardo, Dec 26, 2015.

    I believe that I misremembered seeing a documentary about how this is a real thing. That the NSA has expanded so massively since 9/11 that they have data centers integrated into large commercial facilities... as I've tried researching it I've come to find there is pretty much no info on it.

    Much of my story was going to rely on the premise that there is a massive CIA-ish data center beneath a Walmart. One of the MCs was going to work there and a lot of important plot would unravel there.

    When I started thinking about it, it seemed stupid. Imagine a giant undeveloped plot of land. Suddenly, the feds have told the local gov't "we're setting up shop, hush hush." Then, they take months or years to build this underground facility. Then, somehow, Walmart builds atop that facility. The logistics of this seem ridiculous. If I were the federal gov't I would probably not waste my time. I would just build or buy huge buildings and set up offices there. I'm wondering now whether it's even interesting to do it under a Walmart. I'm undergoing a petty and sad "that was a bad idea" moment and would love some ideas thrown around regarding this. You all are so helpful with smashing ideas together to see what happens.
     
  2. AgentBen
    Offline

    AgentBen Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2015
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    England
    You might want to watch the TV Series Chuck. I believe after a few seasons the change the location to under the shop that Chuck works in.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,878
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Hubardo and Acanthophis like this.
  4. Acanthophis
    Offline

    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    330
    Location:
    Canada
    It's a neat concept, and one I wouldn't have trouble believing. Despite being massive enough to conceal a large government facility, Walmart doesn't seem interesting enough, in my opinion. I feel as if an electronic store - such as Best Buy - would be more interesting, and far more relevant to the plot. Tech goes with secrets, generic brands from Walmart do not. :p
     
  5. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    Don't forget the time they stashed an entire alien spacecraft under DIA. It's the reason the automated baggage system never worked.
    http://www.openminds.tv/are-aliens-beneath-denver-international-airport-1017/21085
     
  6. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    I the movie The Watch, the alien spaceship is below Costco.

     
  7. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    Huh. Someone actually watched that movie.
     
  8. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    It was ok, I would give it about a 75.
     
  9. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,881
    Likes Received:
    10,062
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    The problem with a Walmart in particular (or any similar type location) is the amount of foot traffic that this secondary destination generates. This doesn't play well with a SCIF being hidden underneath. I could see it working with some other type of public, civilian, front-type operation up top and visible. A factory, a pharmaceutical plant, something where the size of the building would be adequate, but the population of civilians not connected to the SCIF underneath would be relatively low in comparison.
     
  10. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    I watched Chuck twice. May have unconsciously influenced me. ;)

    Oh cool. Well then. AT&T...

    I'll mull this over.

    The foot traffic thing crossed my mind. What if somebody accidentally stumbled into the facility? My idea for security was that there is too much fancy ID stuff necessary to pass into the underground area. There is an underground parking garage for Walmart shoppers, but a deeper few levels which you can only access with a special pass code. And, to enter into the SCIF (thanks for the term) you have to do fancy ID swiping and possibly fingerprint scanning or something.

    I can see why AT&T would be a good fit, but now I'm wondering why in the real world an Intel body would want to do anything below a Walmart. Why Walmart?

    You are all very helpful, thanks.
     
  11. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    Because there's a huge number of people going into the facility, and the building is being watched by satellite. They need somewhere where hundreds of shoppers are coming in and out, and making the satellite tracking of individuals impossible .
     
    Hubardo likes this.
  12. BrianIff
    Offline

    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1,294
    Likes Received:
    433
    Location:
    Canada
    A big problem with subterranean facilities in commercially-zoned areas is that the excavation would be immense, and even with the parking garage explanation, there'd be all kinds of tradespeople needed to make an office on top of the attention construction sites attract. Not impossible, but far from the air-tight secrecy that the investment would expect, I think.
     
  13. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,789
    Likes Received:
    2,409
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    The only plausible way to hide an underground installation beneath a commercial building, would be to have a lengthy tunnel from a secure location. Of course this can bring in challenges of it's own. But it would be secure from the civilians, as the entrance would be miles away at a secure location. Just an idea, though grand in scope would be feasible. There are secret tunnels underneath some cities that virtually no one knows about. And they are in the real world.
     
  14. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    These are real? Can you give links to evidence of this?
     
  15. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,789
    Likes Received:
    2,409
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
  16. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    Cool! I don't know why exactly Intel would use these underground tunnels, but maybe that's what imagination is for...

    For my story they don't do creepy stuff like torture at this facility, they just look at computer screens all day. You can hypothetically do that from anywhere. I really like @Jack Asher 's justification for the Walmart.

    I just wanna say that this is the most frustrating part of writing, I've found. Having a foundational concept, working around it for a while, then realizing it doesn't necessarily make sense or serve the greatest function. Sigh.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  17. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,789
    Likes Received:
    2,409
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Well best of luck with whatever you decide. It sounds fun and interesting. :D
     
  18. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    @Wreybies based on what you said about the foot traffic being a bad thing, what do you think of this?
     
  19. tonguetied
    Offline

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    219
    Location:
    Near Atlanta
    I like the idea in general and if it were my story I would up the size a whole bunch. The trick in my mind is to do the construction very discretely which would be difficult at best. However there is an old military base near Atlanta that has a hazardous waste problem affecting the ground water I believe. Anyway we are talking a much larger area, thousands of acres for the base, the hazardous waste spread "could" contaminate a very large area, removal of the soil to any depth deemed necessary for the clean up is possible. Long term plans for the area are to build housing developments, stores, etc. so think of how the government could build special housing for their employees above ground with convenient access to the underground facility, etc. Not only do you have superfund clean-up money to do a lot of the work and the excuse but a proposed housing development put forward by the community at large. It didn't sound like you were going for much secrecy but for me that would add to the intrigue. WARNING possible plot SPOILER follows. I am just reading James Rollins' "Bone Labyrinth" and in that story the Chinese have a multistory underground structure under a very large zoo, so the concept is not a new one by any stretch, very credible in my opinion.
     
    Hubardo likes this.
  20. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    @tonguetied that's also very helpful. You're all so helpful! I'm not sure about the function of secrecy, but the plot purpose of it being underground is that there's going to be a big climate changey related hurricane/flood that drowns a bunch of people. I sorta forgot that before. The question now is whether it should be Walmart or something else. Another plot function is that the MC orders pizza ritualistically every Friday, walks out and meets the delivery kid in the Walmart parking lot. The kid turns out to be some ecoterrorist/anarchist hacker type, and does something to get into the facility. I guess in a more isolated facility setting, someone could do the same thing as a janitor, IT person or as some other role. But right now I'm liking the pizza delivery idea.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  21. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,789
    Likes Received:
    2,409
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    That would be awesome! The secret evil pizza delivery guy. Who would suspect it? It is brilliant. :p
     
  22. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    http://www.inquisitr.com/2642148/mufid-elfgeeh-man-using-pizza-shop-as-front-for-isis-recruitment-video/

    Sorry, but it's real.
     
  23. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,789
    Likes Received:
    2,409
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    @Lewdog Well that is interesting. Odd coincidence that it has already actually been done. Damn liking the OP's idea for originality points. Nah, I still think it is a good idea, and can keep a fair amount of originality. :p
     
  24. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,881
    Likes Received:
    10,062
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    For a story... I mean, you can write a reason why the "operatives" inside would want to hide from satellite tracking, and voilà! What I know of these kinds of facilities is from the real world where things are less interesting and much, much more pragmatic. I worked at two such facilities during my time in the service where the site itself was away from the military installation, not actually on the installation itself. (these are referred to as remote sites)

    Marienfelde in Berlin
    www_guardbattalion_de_us_army_berlin_brigade_6941st_gdbn_de_esc_marienfelde_00001.jpg

    And Teufelsberg, also in Berlin, which we used to call der große Schwanz for reasons that should be obvious.
    teufelsberg.jpg

    I also happened to be there for the shut-down of both facilities. Marienfelde was scraped and there is nothing but a wooded area there now and Teufelsberg was gutted to the bone. As you can see from the photos, the presence of the two sites was no secret, but the stuff that went on inside was super-mega-ultra secret.

    Everywhere else I worked, the SCIF was on the base, not away from it.

    The intrigue that is the meat of the kind of story you want to write doesn't play out so much in the real world when we're talking about governmental activity. The locations where we do the secret things we do isn't really that much of a secret because these locations are so heavily controlled and guarded as regards access that where it's located isn't that big a deal. When my parents retired from the military and went to work for Harris in Palm Bay, Florida, the facility there had two SCIFs and the fact that those SCIFs exist isn't a secret to anyone, just what goes inside. The funny thing about the world of intel is that the things civilians tend to think are the important parts, are actually the less important parts. For instance, individual bits of information or "secrets" age out of importance rather quickly for a host of reasons, but how information is handled, stored, transported, and the connections within the different parts of the intel world, that doesn't age out so quickly and is infinitely more sensitive to those within the world of intel than the actual data or secret in any individual file. But that doesn't make for such an interesting story, does it? A good cloak and dagger, Spy vs. Spy story has to have a juicy secret file or secret weapon left over from the Cold War that was too insane to actually use (Red Mercury) that is in play. If I were to risk going to prison by telling you the things I used to do in the military, it would be a bad risk on my part because weighed against the near-science-fiction-level drama of popular spy novels and franchises, it would seem terribly hum-drum to you and not very impressive. I would be risking much just to have you pull a face that said, "Really? That's it? I thought it would more.... more." And don't get me wrong, every once in a while more did happen, and those days were a flurry of activity and excitement and doing the thing you were trained to do whenever this, that or the the other thing occurred. And you would get back to the barracks after the thing was over and within a couple of shifts the other airmen who also work in the SCIF would know that the thing had happened and you would feel envious eyes on you as you walked the barracks and you would know that the whispered conversation was to the tune of, "He's in alpha flight. He was on duty. He got to do the things and the stuff."

    In the real-real world, spies are after the data, sure, of course, but the bigger fish they are after, the elusive monster out there in the depths, is how the system works. This is why Snowden represents such a problem. It's not the individual bits of info that he's giving out, which age out of importance with every passing day, it's the fact that he is giving out so much information that it's possible for his clients to put together how things work. And if they have that, then they have everything.
     
    Hubardo and tonguetied like this.
  25. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    @Wreybies when are you gonna make a podcast where you just talk about stuff? Any stuff. Especially about your personal life stuff.

    Content-based response: Cool & thanks. I will continue churning ideas through the flesh circuitry in my head encasing. And now I'm off to look for threads about the degree of reality-bending people like to use in their fiction. Suddenly that's more the question. Some of the premises of my story will never happen anyway. Suddenly wondering if there's a ratio of possible:impossible. 90:10? 80:20? 70:30? The stuff people say and do within their roles, and consequences of actions, all possible. Place where people work, unlikely to actually exist. If most stuff seems plausible I think it gives the implausible stuff more room for believability. Okay off to find threads on this now. Thanks again!
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.

Share This Page