Metro-East News

Cardillo says NGA will ‘mitigate’ security concerns at St. Louis site

Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Robert Cardillo, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, wrote on Monday that St. Louis exceeds the security requirements for the new facility the agency plans to build there.

Addressing a letter from Sen. Dick Durbin on May 16 that asked for a response to “specific critiques” from Illinois officials and the risk analysis firm Command Consulting Group, Cardillo responded that the evaluation process for the proposed St. Louis site “was done in strict accordance with” the Department of Defense’s anti-terrorism and security engineering standards.

“The (Command Consulting Group) report is correct in its assessment that there are a greater number of areas to exploit for direct fire weapons and covert surveillance at the City site than for the St. Clair county site,” Cardillo wrote. “We would mitigate these risks through security engineering and design features for the facility and campus, NGA police force routine patrols, perimeter cameras, and close coordination with the St. Louis police force.”

The Command Consulting Group, based in Washington, D.C., issued a recent report on behalf of backers of Illinois’ proposed site. The report states that “it is logical that the proposed NGA site in St. Clair County would be the better choice, and we urge the decision-makers to cautiously weigh any trade-offs of other factors against the NGA facility’s ultimate security and the safety of its workforce.”

However, Cardillo wrote on Monday, “our security assessment includes more than the threats addressed in the report from the CCG. And, our design and implementation would mitigate concerns raised.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, issued a statement similar to Durbin’s letter on Tuesday.

“The answers NGA provided in its letter are no more specific than they were in the delegation’s meeting with Director Cardillo two weeks ago,” Bost wrote. “A national security decision of this magnitude warrants more than a simple confirmation that the most minimum of security standards have been met. We are being asked to take their assurances on blind faith, rather than on a transparent analysis of the standards.”

Cardillo’s letter comes ahead of a town hall meeting planned for Friday in O’Fallon to discuss the latest with the selection process and to allow residents to ask questions and bring up concerns regarding placement of the new NGA western headquarters, according to Bost’s office.

The meeting is being coordinated by Bost; U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville; St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern; Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan; and other community leaders.

Last month, the NGA said it preferred to build its future $1.75 billion NGA west headquarters in north St. Louis, opting against a proposed location next to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County.

“Nearly every objective metric proves that St. Clair County is the superior choice for the new NGA facility,” Bost said. “So it begs the question, ‘How did NGA come to the conclusion that it belongs in North St. Louis instead?’ Unfortunately, I’ve never received an adequate answer to that question. Therefore, I’ve decided to host a public forum that will give my constituents a chance to have their voices heard, because NGA clearly ignored their concerns during the public comment period.”

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, at the Katy Cavins Community Center, 308 East Fifth Street, in O’Fallon.

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