A Utah state legislator angry over the National Security Agency’s surveillance scandals is trying to kill the agency’s massive datacenter in his state by cutting off the water that cools its computers.
Marc Roberts, a first-term Republican representing a district 45 miles south of the NSA datacenter, is preparing to file a bill that would make it illegal for any state employee or agency to provide material support to any federal agency involved in gathering electronic surveillance data or metadata without a warrant.
If passed, the bill Roberts is calling Prohibition on Electronic Data Collection Assistance would make it illegal for either state agencies or the town of Bluffdale to supply the National Security Agency (NSA) datacenter with water or other resources as long as the agency was involved in any kind of digital surveillance work.
The intent is to stop the NSA’s warrantless data collection, or at least prevent it from doing so using resources from Utah. “If you want to spy on the whole world and American citizens, great, but we’re not going to help you,” Roberts told U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
Roberts cites the “few and defined powers” language of the Tenth Amendment on his Website and quotes anti-Federalist James Madison to illustrate his view that the powers of the federal government should be kept as small as possible, and that state sovereignty should trump the supremacy of the central government in most cases.
Roberts also introduced a bill limiting the ability of law enforcement officers to force entry to the homes of Utahans, even using a search warrant.
The principles of state and individual sovereignty “go back to federalism [and] the Tenth Amendment principle,” Roberts told the newspaper. “When the federal government gets too big and gets out of control, the states have to step up, and that’s what we’re doing now: join[ing] together to push back.”
Roberts’ bill is based on model legislation called “4th Amendment Protection Act,” which is being promoted by the Tenth Amendment Center, a non-partisan libertarian organization dedicated to enforcing the Tenth Amendment by limiting the power of the federal government, especially where it overrules the powers of individual states.
The Tenth Amendment Center and other activist groups have identified the 1.7 million gallons the NSA needs to cool the four server floors in the NSA’s exascale datacenter, are circulating a petition to collect support, and flogging the idea on Twitter and other social-networking sites under the hashtag #nullifyNSA.
A similar rule was introduced in Mississippi Jan. 20, but died in committee Feb. 4, according to the Guardian.
“No water equals no NSA data center,” according to Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, in a press release announcing support for Roberts’ bill. The release cites legislation introduced in Maryland to cut off water and other resources to NSA facilities, including the Ft. Meade, Md. Headquarters that houses its primary datacenter.
“If enough states do this in the coming years, the NSA won’t have a place in the country where their spy centers are welcome,” Boldin said in the statement.
Legislators in Kansas, New Hampshire, Alaska and Missouri are all considering rules banning the sharing of NSA-collected data without a warrant.
” The NSA’s decade of warrantless surveillance en masse assaults not only the rights of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans, and our democracy as a whole, but resembles Soviet-style spying — on meth, empowered and amplified by the past generation’s remarkable advances in computing technology, ” according to Shahid Buttar, the executive director of an allied activist group called the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which combined with the Tenth Amendment Center to form an anti-NSA specific group called the OffNow coalition.
“Utah residents have a chance to take matters into their own hands, defending democracy by shutting off state resources consumed by the Bluffdale data center in its assault on We the People, our fundamental rights, and the Constitution that enshrined them,” Buttar added in the OffNow statement.