How Startups Helped the NSA Build PRISM

In 2004, while working for USA Today, then based in part of an Arlington, Va., office tower, I wanted to do a story about the CIA’s then-experimental venture capital unit called In-Q-Tel. I got the OK from In-Q-Tel to visit its office. But the CIA was so concerned about secrecy and terrorism, I had to agree to not reveal where the office was located. So I met a man on the ground floor of an office tower that had once housed USA Today, and he promptly took me back up the elevator. In-Q-Tel’s office was in the same building. I may be one of the only journalists to go there. In-Q-Tel has since moved down the street. You can find its address on the Web—though not on its own web site. And now that the National Security Agency’s PRISM data-collection system has been outed, In-Q-Tel is more visible than it’s ever been.