The CIA plans to relocate the headquarters of its domestic division, which is responsible for operations and recruitment in the United States...
WASHINGTON — The CIA plans to relocate the headquarters of its domestic division, which is responsible for operations and recruitment in the United States, from the CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters to Denver, a move designed to promote innovation, according to U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement officials.
About $20 million has been tentatively budgeted to relocate employees of the CIA’s National Resources Division, officials said. A U.S. intelligence official said the planned move, confirmed by three other government officials, was being undertaken “for operational reasons.”
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. Other current and former intelligence officials said the Denver relocation reflects the desire of CIA Director Porter Goss to develop new ways to operate under cover, including setting up more front corporations and working more closely with established international firms.
Associates of Goss said yesterday the move was also in keeping with his desire to stop the growth of CIA headquarters and headquarters-based group-think, something he criticized frequently when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
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Other CIA veterans said such a relocation would make no sense, given Denver’s relative distance from major corporate centers. “Why would you go so far away?” one asked. “They will get disconnected.”
The main function of the domestic division, which has stations in many major U.S. cities, is to conduct voluntary debriefings of U.S. citizens who travel overseas for work or to visit relatives, and to recruit foreign students, diplomats and businesspeople to become CIA assets when they return to their countries. It was unclear how many CIA employees would relocate to Denver under the plan.
Although collecting information on U.S. citizens under suspicion for terrorist links is primarily an FBI function, the CIA may also collect information on citizens under limited circumstances, according to a 1981 executive order.
The Denver move is tentatively scheduled for next year.
Colorado has become a major intelligence hub since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Denver suburb of Aurora is home to the little-known Aerospace Data Facility. Located at Buckley Air Force Base, it has become the major U.S.-based technical downlink for intelligence satellites operated by the military, the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, according to military and government documents obtained by William Arkin, author of “Code Names,” a book about secret military plans and programs.
About 70 miles away, the U.S. Northern Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, is tasked with homeland defense.