On November 28th, Walter Pincus at The Washington Post published an article about an interesting project posted up for bids by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The project was for the construction of a five-story underground facility intended to house the Israeli Defense Forces. The name of the site is mysteriously referred to as “Site 911”.
Pincus reported that the listing described the site as a $100 million facility with classrooms, an auditorium, a laboratory and even shock-resistant doors and protective materials to block radiation from the outside.
The site is also highly classified, with only Western contractors allowed to bid, and apparently the Corps notice also stipulated, “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden.”
Apparently when it comes to national security, equal opportunity employment is tossed out the window.
The Washington Post published the Pincus article on the 28th, and in the following week, news outlets all across the world spread the story far and wide, in many cases copying the article verbatim – as mainstream media outlets often do.
However, the level of detail that Pincus went into when describing the alleged facility appeared to extend far beyond what any listing in the FBO.gov service should likely detail for what is supposed to be a highly classified facility.
Pincus described the facility even further:
“The site ‘shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site’ and ‘no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.'”
Pincus went on to describe the listing details as asking construction bidders to include the application of a mezuza – a parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah – attached to every door or opening in the Site 911 building.
Confirmation of Site 911
One problem with the Washington Post story was that the original listing no longer existed. I searched the FBO.gov website and couldn’t find it. This search was conducted less than a week after the Washington Post story.
Contacting Walter Pincus was no help, as he failed to respond to my inquiry.
I then turned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District, and asked whether the claims made by Pincus about the construction request from the Europe District were accurate. I received a response from Brian Temple, Public Affairs Chief.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is managing the construction of a project called Site 911 for the Israeli MOD. We are not confirming the accuracy of any characterization of the project or description of requirements contained in the Washington Post article.
In terms of looking for the solicitation via the Federal Business Opportunities website, the solicitations for all projects are automatically deleted from the site within 24 hours after the proposal due date. This deletion is an automatic function of the site that is standard for all of our solicitations on FBO.”
In other words, no one outside of the project will be able to confirm the accuracy of the Washington Post description – but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at least publicly admits the existence of the Site 911 project.
Further Confirmation of Site 911
Thankfully, a Businessweek article did publish a link to a follow-up project for Phase 2 of Site 911 (see the image).
This listing was also extremely detailed – explaining that the below-grade facility will be 6 levels high and 5 levels deep. It will include 3 underground levels of 3,800 square meters, and 2 underground levels of 200 square meters.
This listing didn’t mention anything about stringent requirements for contractors, and the solicitation details provided extremely detailed descriptions of the facility, complete with detailed diagrams and drawings.
Not quite the makings of a highly secretive, highly classified facility.
From the descriptions provided by Pincus, as well as the details offered in the follow-up listing on FBO.gov, the facility sounds far more like a residential facility than it does some kind of highly classified, highly secretive research facility.