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CIA Tower Runs Afoul of Local Planners

May 16, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The CIA is looking for a place to build a 60-foot communications tower after getting static from local planners who say they are more worried about the local landscape than the spy agency’s claims of urgency.

Overseas Telecommunications Inc., a CIA contractor, agreed Friday to dismantle the microwave transmissions tower it was building atop Bull Run Mountain in Prince William County, Va., about 35 miles outside Washington.

County officials said Overseas began work on the tower without a permit.

″They can be described as contrite but very reasonable people,″ said Prince William Planning Director Roger Snyder.

The first attempt to put up the tower came last October in Reston, a suburban Washington community in Fairfax County, Va.

Overseas withdrew an application to build a 197-foot tower after complaints from nearby residents that the structure would intrude on the skyline.

County officials at the time complained of the ″cloak and dagger″ secrecy they found when they tried to find out about the plans for the tower.

Overseas said in documents filed with the county that the tower would ″connect a satellite earth station at Quantico with facilities at Langley, Va., and ultimately the White House.″ The CIA headquarters is in Langley.

Documents on file in Prince William County say the tower would be part of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which monitors foreign news broadcasts for the CIA.

Despite its problems with the local governments, the CIA is pressing its attempts to find a home for the tower. In a letter to Overseas that was filed with the county, CIA official Harry Wood wrote, ″In view of the amount of governmental funds already committed, the urgency associated with the successful completion, and the importance of the overall mission to be accomplished, I consider it important that you, as the government’s system contractor, pursue this on an absolute priority basis.″

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