by Siobhan Gorman
It's musical offices time for the nation's spy chief--again. Come next Spring, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell plans to move his 1,000-plus crew from its current headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base just across the Anacostia River from downtown Washington D.C. to a new building at the rapidly-expanding Liberty Crossing campus at an "undisclosed location" out near the CIA in Northern Virginia.
The decision dashes the hopes, for now at least, of those who had eyed downtown real estate, which would have vastly reduced the amount of time the nation's highest intelligence officer spends in traffic headed to meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
The winners in this latest round of real estate roulette are the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA officers currently assigned to McConnell's shop.
In April 2006, the Defense Intelligence Agency was cheated out of its long-anticipated new office space, when the spy chief claimed it before the ribbon was even cut on the new building.
CIA officers in the spy chief's operation have been grumbling about the trek to Bolling ever since they vacated their tight quarters across the street from the White House for the more spacious Bolling accomodations. "The people who came from CIA are thrilled," said McConnell's spokesman, Ross Feinstein.
The losers are those working for McConnell who hail from the National Security Agency, which is located halfway between Washington and Baltimore. They will face perhaps a two-hour commute to work, around the infamous Beltway.
Seeking to calm the nerves of anxious commuters, the spy chief has already held a town meeting on the move, Feinstein said, and will probably hold at least one more. McConnell is looking for ways to accomodate those with tough commutes by offering flexible work schedules, Feinstein said.
And there's an upside, he said: The new office will have more parking spaces and twice the cafeteria options.
The spy chief was required to move because the law that created his operation prohbited it from being "co-located" with another intelligence agency, and right now it shares office space with part of the Defense Intelligence Agency--the part that fit after the spy chief snatched the top two floors. Feinstein assured The Swamp that his office has obtained waivers to allow it to reside at Bolling for the last year and a half.
This may not be the last move for McConnell's shop. He's launched a review of all intelligence agency office space to see if there are ways to save on overhead among the far-flung 16 intelligence agencies.
So there's still hope for a D.C. headquarters. "We might move somewhere else" after that review is completed, Feinstein said.
Let's just hope that scrambling intelligence officers' commutes doesn't leave them too grumpy to hunt down Osama bin Laden...