Just the words Top Secret conjure up images of intrigue, conspiracies, and clandestine operations. These off-limits sites exist all over the world with the various governments keeping activities hidden from public knowledge…safely ensconced behind those closed doors and security fences. It's a given that most of the secrets probably have to do with research for new weapons and defense systems.
A while back, I came across an article listing 12 top secret locations, certainly not the total number of these sites…not even close…but an interesting list.
Cheyenne Mountain Complex
This bunker near Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a relic from the days of the Cold War. Located literally inside Cheyenne Mountain, it was originally designed as a combat operations center with its own water, electricity supply, air filtration system and built to withstand a nuclear blast [a 1960s size nuclear blast]. This facility has been given new vitality as a result of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It currently participates guarding against ballistic attack, supports space operations, and assists in keeping American and Canadian airspace safe. The U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and Missile Defense Agency all maintain a presence at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex…and that's a lot of organizations devoted to secrecy. But the secrecy of the location? Well…there is a picture of it on NORAD's website and I recall seeing a kind of mini-tour several years ago on a television documentary. But, with that many secrecy organizations involved, there's probably a lot more going on there than meets the eye.
Undoubtedly the most famous…or infamous…secret facility in the world. Even though its location in the Nevada desert was known far and wide and a topic of much speculation, the government refused to even acknowledge its existence until 1995. And anything that secret is ripe for all kinds of conspiracy theories, some going back to Roswell, New Mexico, 1947 and the alleged alien spacecraft crash with the alien bodies supposedly taken to Area 51. With many of the stealth technology aircraft tested there in secret, it must have looked like strange alien craft flying overhead. And now you can see Area 51 via Google Earth. Sort of takes away some of that mystique.
It's official name is Raven Rock Mountain Complex and it's an underground relocation facility for the Department of Defense, sometimes referred to as the underground Pentagon. It's located in Pennsylvania about 6 miles from the Camp David presidential retreat. There's speculation that a tunnel connects Camp David and Site R. Like Cheyenne Mountain, this was a cold war era bunker given new purpose and life following 9-11.
The Capitol Visitor Center
Located on the east side of the Capitol, as the name implies its purpose is to welcome visitors to Washington, D.C. But there is a theory that within or beneath the 580,000 square-foot building is a top-secret area for Congress to use in emergencies. Giving credence to this theory are 4 bomb-proof skylights, a tunnel system large enough for vehicles to move around and a sophisticated IT infrastructure with thousands of feet of fiber-optic cable.
National Security Agency/Stellar Wind
According to Wired Magazine, the NSA is building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. This is where the NSA will intercept and inspect billions of calls, email, Google searches, travel itineraries, book purchases, and other miscellaneous digital information. Stellar Wind is the codename for this surveillance program. The NSA created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. While the CIA is better known as an intelligence gathering agency, the NSA is three times its size and costs more. The NSA is considered the most powerful intelligence agency in the world today.
This program resulted in public disclosure by whistle blower William Binney in 2002 and most recently Edward Snowden in 2013.
Pine Gap, Australia
This is considered by many to be the Australian Area 51, the ground station for a network that intercepts telephone, radio, and data links from around the world.
Located near Williamsburg, Virginia, Camp Peary (known as The Farm) is an area of 10,000 acres said to be where CIA agents receive covert training.
Located in the Ural Mountains, the U.S. suspects this Russian site of being a large secret nuclear facility. It's near one of Russia's last remaining nuclear labs and is part of their Dead Hand nuclear retaliatory command structure.
Based in a complex in McLean, Virginia, this is home to the National Counterterrorism Center. It utilizes experts from the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, and other agencies, to avoid large scale terror plots. Each office is essentially a vault.
RAF Menwith Hill
This Royal Air Force station located near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, is said to be the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. It is operated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and is part of ECHELON, created during the Cold War.
Negev Nuclear Research Center
Located in Israel's Negev Desert, the facility was built in 1958 and is widely assumed to be a manufacturing site for nuclear weapons.
This is a government and military science park located near Wiltshire, England. Although the term science park makes it sound more like a children's learning-can-be-fun type of place, that's not even close. In World War I, it studied chemical warfare. With the passing decades, studies changed from mustard gas to nerve agents in the 1940s. It continued to study biological warfare.