By Alex Wukman
It seems like something out of a childhood fantasy or a pulp spy novel, a secret CIA facility just outside of a town known for tourist traps like the Riverwalk. However, accoroding to articles recently published in the New York Times and the Washington Post its not something cooked up in an overly excited imagination. Both papers recounted the story of Kevin M. Shipp, 55, a former security officer for the CIA who was posted to a facility that the Washington Post describes as being “in the Southwestern United States.” WaPo’s journalists wrote that they had “agreed to the agency’s request not to name the facility or describe its location more precisely. ”
The New York Times on the other hand is a little more specific, writing that the facility is located at Camp Stanley “an Army weapons depot just north of San Antonio.” Well a statement about a secret government facility located just outside of the Alamo city piqued interest around the Free Press compound so we started looking. We found that even though the function of the facility is classified the job listings aren’t.
On a Washington Post maintained job board the CIA posted seven job openings for San Antonio which ranged from langugae officer to paramilitary operations officer to something called a Core Collector, which the job listing describes as being “focused full time on clandestinely spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and handling individuals with access to vital foreign intelligence on the full range of national security issues.”
One of the functions that was possibly put forth for the facility is that of a listening post, the theory is lent some credence by the fact that both Microsoft and the NSA have recently opened data centers in San Antonio. Additionally, there is the Air Force’s cyber warfare center, Security Hill, which was recently transfered from Kelley Air Force Base to Lackland. However, the location of Camp Stanley, approximately 20 miles northwest of San Antonio and the relative isolation of the post.
One of the more telling things is that the jobs the CIA posted for San Antonio all request people with experience in “critical languages” such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Indonesian, Korean, Pashto/Pashtu, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Urdu. Another piece of revealing information is that almost all the jobs are more of the field work variety, no analyst or signal intelligence positions.
While not much is known about the CIA facillity there is a wealth of information about Camp Stanley, and none of it is very good. According to the research firm Global Security the base is part of the Leon Springs Military Preserve and has been used as a chemical weapons dump for nearly 80 years. However, in 2001 the chemicals used to dispose of the weapons leaked into the aquifers flowing beneath the site and contaminated the drinking water.
The Washington Post reported that one of the chemicals, trichloroethene, is used for “degreasing weapons.” Global Security disagrees, saying that the chemical was used to denature hundreds of glass vials of mustard gas before they were buried. If it wasn’t for Camp Stanley’s unique environmental history the location of the secret CIA facillity might never have come to light.
The only reason Shipp came forward was because the CIA backed out of an agreement to pay $400,000 to settle medical bills relating to conditions his family developed while living at Camp Stanley.