The Solomon Scandals novel vs. online gossip about Skyline Towers and the intel community

imageThe Solomon Scandals is a novel, but two actual events helped inspire it and are the topics of online gossip today—several decades later:

The deadly Skyline Towers building collapse in Northern Virginia, where 14 workers died and dozens were injured.

The late Sen. Abraham Ribicoff’s secret and illegal investment in a CIA-occuped building in Arlington.

The combined result? The extremely fictitious Vulture’s Point, a rickety high-rise housing some CIA operations on the banks of the Potomac, at least several miles from Skyline.

imageSo what’s invented and what’s fact? Well, in the Connecticut newspapers, I myself revealed Ribicoff’s extremely problematic investment, which he claimed was an accident despite his vagueness about the circumstances under which he found out about the mistake. The story made the NBC Nightly News, after I bluffed Ribicoff’s trustee into revealing the senator’s stake in the Key Building in Arlington. But my disclosure  mysteriously stayed out of the Washington dailies for reason still unknown to me. Advertising pressure? Friendships? A government-press cover-up? Or just an honest mistake in news judgment? I don’t know. I certainly had fun concocting an imaginary conspiracy to explain it all.

But you can’t keep a good story—or partial story?—down. Now gossip is spreading online that the actual Skyline complex houses certain secretive agencies well known for their initials, the very kind of outfit about which I wrote in Scandals. True? Once again, I don’t know. I’d welcome some authentic and verifiable information. What I can say is that I do see a need for intel agencies in this era, given that the United States has bungled so badly in Iraq and elsewhere for want of the facts. If I find the rumors pan out, I’ll not publish the exact locations of the intel offices if I discover them and think there is any national security threat in the information’s becoming public. I’m reachable via email at

Related: The Washington Post series on Top Secret America.

Update, September 14: I’ve followed up on the gossip, requesting the specifics; and so far I think that the Gertrude Stein quote about Oakland applies: “There is no there there.” If actual CIA offices are at Skyline, the proof will have to come from elsewhere.

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David Rothman

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