Late last week, Maryland State Delegate Michael Smigiel introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act to end all state cooperation with the National Security Agency (NSA).
Based on model legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), HB1074 would ban Maryland state or local government from providing water, electricity or other resources to the NSA while it engages in warrantless mass-surveillance, and would make shared collected data inadmissible in state courts.
Smigiel said that even though the NSA has deep roots in Maryland, the state should no longer support an agency that ignores constitutional constraints and tramples on the privacy rights of the people.
“I want Maryland standing with its back to its people holding a shield. Not facing them holding a sword,” he said.
Ft. Meade serves as the home base for the NSA, and resource needs have created significant issues for the agency for more than 10 years. In 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported that the agency had maxed out the Baltimore-area power grid, causing insiders to fear that the problem “could force a virtual shutdown of the agency.”
While the NSA alleviated some of those concerns with new facilities in Utah, Texas and elsewhere, they still remain an issue. In December, the agency signed a new contract with Howard County, Md., to provide up to 5 million gallons of water per day to cool supercomputers in a new data center slated to open in 2016.
Along with denying the NSA resources and prohibiting the use of warrantless data in courts, the Fourth Amendment Protection Act also blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds, and forbids corporations filling needs not met in the absence of state cooperation from doing business with the state.
HB1074 first moves on to the House Judiciary committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before being considered by the full house.
In Maryland, SUPPORT THIS BILL HERE: http://offnow.org/maryland/
Can Utah shut down the new NSA data center by turning off the water? A new bill introduced by state Rep. Marc Roberts seeks to do just that.
Based on model legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) called the OffNow Coalition, the Utah 4th Amendment Protection Act would prohibit state material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency that collects electronic data or metadata without a search warrant “that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”
This puts contracts that provide the 1.7 million gallons of water a day necessary to cool the NSA computers at its Bluffdale facility in the crosshairs.
“Without question, the mass surveillance and data collection by the Utah Data Center is a delicate and important matter,” Roberts said. “But for me, the language of the Fourth Amendment is clear. It simply protects us against unreasonable and unwarranted searches or seizures of our persons, private residencies and property, documents and information and personal and private belongings. This legislation preserves those rights to the people.”
Bluffdale, a political subdivision of Utah, provided the NSA with a sweetheart water deal. The bill would begin the process of ending that deal, potentially crippling the NSA’s ability to keep the facility functional.
“No water equals no NSA data center,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said. Boldin said other states need to join the push, even those without NSA facilities. He called it essential. “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,” he said.
Other provisions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act would have impact, too. The bill would make data collected by the NSA and shared with state and local law enforcement in Utah inadmissible in court, unless a specific warrant was issued.
TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey said that this provision might prove as important as cutting off the water because it erases a practical effect of NSA spying.
“We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know from a Reuters report (DEA Parallel Construction Training Docs) that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues,” he said. “This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening immediately. We might not be able to stop the NSA from gathering data on everybody in America, but we can darn sure stop that information from being used against them.”
BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar called coming together across party lines to oppose unconstitutional NSA spying “imperative.”
“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,” he said. “Maryland and Utah residents have a chance to shed partisan differences and take matters into their own hands. They have the opportunity to defend democracy by shutting off state resources consumed by the massive NSA operation in Maryland and Bluffdale data center in Utah, as they assault We the People, our fundamental rights, and the Constitution that enshrined them.”
The legislation rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not. The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US, serves as the modern cornerstone. The majority opinion deemed commandeering “incompatible with our constitutional system.”
“The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”
In Utah, SUPPORT THIS BILL HERE: http://offnow.org/utah
The movement to thwart NSA spying at the state level continues to grow. 15 states have now introduced legislation denying support to the spy agency.