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Is the NSA's massive new spy center watching you?

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Plans for the new Utah spy center. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Conceptual Site plan)

The National Security Agency is building a massive data collection warehouse in the midewest -- and an ex-CIA covert operations agent is casting a wary eye at the agency's motives.

Mike Baker, a former cover field operations officer for the CIA and now the president of the global intelligence and security firm Dilligence LLC, believes the paranoia surrounding the NSA’s new spy center under construction in Utah is understandable yet overblown.

“The fact that they’re building a new data center isn’t news,” Baker explained in an interview with Fox News. “They’ve got several other [similar] facilities. The size of this is what is creating the stir.”

Once finished, the NSA’s million square foot data center will be the size of 17 football fields, five times the size of the U.S. Capitol Building and 18 times bigger than the White House.

Baker believes this growth falls in line with the general expansion of the Internet, of communications over the past ten years – and the threat to our national safety has never been greater.

“The number one threat that we face as a nation frankly is not Iran,” Baker told Fox News. “It’s not actually the war on terror. It’s cyber warfare. It is the daily, astounding number of attacks against our government infrastructure, our private sector. The amount of economic espionage that’s directed at our country on a daily basis would stun the American public. So the NSA has both a defensive and offensive requirement.”

Yet some believe this growth poses a threat, not to our national safety but our national privacy. According to Wired, the post-9/11 NSA “has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created,” a bastion of unconstitutional privacy violations and warrantless wiretapping.

The controversial story claimed that the NSA was spying on its citizens, monitoring billions of emails, phone calls and texts – claims the organization’s chief General Keith Alexander has adamantly denied.

Answering questions from Congress stemming from the Wired story, Alexander noted that the “NSA does not have the ability to do that in the United States. We’re not authorized to do that, nor do we have the equipment in the United States to collect that kind of information.”

“Many allegations have been made about the planned activities of the Utah Data Center,” NSA public information officer Vanee' Vines wrote in an email.

“What it will be is a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the Intelligence Community’s efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and will be the lead agency at the center,” she said.

Baker understands both sides of the story and urges calm and balance.

“There’s a tendency on the average American to think their life is fascinationg enough for the government to want to surveil them all the time, to collect information on them,” Baker told Fox News.

“I come from the other side of this, having spent the time and looked behind the curtain. I honestly can say they don’t care about the average American. That’s not the point of the exercise.”