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NSA scandal: Washington State considers cutting off electricity, water for NSA

The Washington State campaign to cut off all utilities and services to the National Security Agency (NSA) facilities in that state achieved its first success on Wednesday, according to a national think-tank based in Los Angeles.

A National Security Agency workstation located at an army installation in Washington State.

According to officials at the Tenth Amendment Center, Washington became first state with a physical NSA location to consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, which was written and proposed specifically to make life extremely difficult for the powerful and super-secret spy agency.

In a bipartisan move, State Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee) and State Rep. Luis Moscoso (D- Mountlake Terrace) introduced HB2272 based on model language drafted by the OffNow coalition, it would make it the policy of Washington “to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant.”

The bill, if passed and signed into law, would prohibit state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. This includes prohibiting state government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.

It also makes "intelligence" gathering by NSA agents without a warrant -- that may eventually be shared with law enforcement -- inadmissible as evidence in a state criminal proceeding. In addition, the law would block public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center's communications director, Mike Maharrey, legislators in California, Oklahoma, and Indiana have already introduced similar bills, and a state senator in Arizona has committed to running with it in his state, but Washington counts as the first state with an actual NSA facility within its borders to consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.

The NSA operates a listening center on the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center in Washington and that NSA facility is in Rep. Taylor’s district. When asked why he is so adamant about HB2272, he said he could not idly sit by while a secretive facility in his own backyard violates the rights of people everywhere.

“We're running with this bill to provide protection against the ever increasing surveillance into the daily lives of our citizens,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Our Founding Fathers established a series of checks and balances in the Constitution. Given the federal government’s utter failure to address the people’s concerns, it’s up to the states to stand for our citizens' constitutional rights.”

If the bill passes, it would set in motion actions to stop any state support of the Yakima center as long as it remains in the state, and could make companies doing business with the NSA facility ineligible for any contracts with the state or its political subdivisions.

Tenth Amendment Center's Mike Maharrey says the bill's prohibition against using unconstitutionally gathered data in state court would probably have the most immediate impact. In fact, lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri will consider bills simply addressing this kind of data sharing.

“We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know... that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. This bill would make that information inadmissible in state court,” he said. “This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening. This is a no-brainer. Every state should do it.”

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