© Collage: Voice of Russia
Policymakers in six different states presented variants of model legislation created to refuse the NSA access to state resources and assistance from public officials. The bills go into great detail, covering the prohibition of evidence gathered up by the NSA from being presented in state courts to turning off the water and electricity to the NSA’s state data complexes.
Agitated over the limited scale of the reforms to the National Security Agency (NSA) covered by President Obama last week and the lack of speed on Congress’ side in facing the issue, advocates are taking on the privacy matter to their designated state capitols.
“If the feds aren’t going to address the issue, then it’s up to the states to do it,” David Taylor, a GOP member of the Washington state House of Representatives whose Yakima Valley district hosts an NSA listening post, said. The bi-partisan bill that was presented last week would block “material support, participation or assistance” from the state and any contractors to a federal facility that collects data on people without a needed warrant. This indefinitely means that the NSA and state officials would cut ties. State universities would not be able to be used as NSA research spots and water and power would not be given to the Yakima building.
Other bills have been drifting about in California, Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas. More are predicted to pop up in the near future in Michigan, Arizona, and Utah State. Symbolic resolutions have already passed in the Pennsylvania House and the California Senate, in complete opposition of the NSA’s spying. Even though other bills are coming to the table, it is unclear how many of those will actually become a law.
“I think there is a value in the message that it sends to DC, which is, ‘we’re not going to put up with it,’” Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “It encourages lawmakers in DC to actually do something about the problem.” The majority of the bills are based off of model legislation created by OffNow, a unique coalition made up by the Tenth Amendment Center and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, a civil liberties organization. Groups like Anonymous and Occupy have also given its backing to the shutdown of the NSA’s spy program with Twitter hashtag #NullifyNSA.
Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said that the idea was to “get a bunch of people who would probably grab at each others’ throats on most issues and say, ‘Let’s get something done.'”
Just a year ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that protects illegal immigrants taken into custody for different crimes to not be turned over to federal immigration agents. He also inked in another law prohibiting the state to cooperate with federal officials to detain people under the National Defense Authorization Act.
“This is similar in concept,” California Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Western Los Angeles County, who introduced an anti-NSA bill earlier this month said, “We’re not telling state officials to violate the law, we’re just telling them to not support the NSA in violating our rights.”
OffNow is ready to introduce a new form of the bill in Utah, where the NSA spent $1.5 billion on a new building in the state. To keep its huge computers cool, $1.7 million gallons of water will be needed on a daily basis. The campaign is encouraging residents to ask Utah lawmakers to turn off the water. Still, the Tenth Amendment Center’s Boldin thinks such an action will probably not be executed, as the data center is popular and will help out the local economy. He stays hopeful though saying that “each small step builds to something greater. At least, that is the goal.”
Voice of Russia Motherjones.com