The National Security Agency operations to spy on American citizens already have prompted several states to consider prohibitions on the use of those details in court proceedings unless they specifically are identified in a search warrant.
But the pushback against the federal programs is reaching new heights in the state of Washington, where a related bill to protect residents’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures has been introduced.
There, any state worker who provides any services or participates or helps “in any way with the providing of services, to a federal agency, federal agent, or corporation providing services to the federal government which is involved in the collection of electronic data or metadata of any persons pursuant to any action not based on a warrant” is fired.
The penalty for corporations that would be involved in providing such services is that it “is forever ineligible to act on behalf of, or provide services to, this state or any political subdivision of this state.”
Regarding employees, the proposal, which just this week is being given to state lawmakers to consider, says those workers “who knowingly violate[s] the prohibitions in section 3 of this act is deemed to have resigned any commission from the state of Washington which he or she may possess, his or her office is deemed vacant, and he or she is forever ineligible to any office of trust, honor, or emolument under the laws of this state.”
It’s all in reaction to word that the NSA is spying on Americans and collecting data about them. The practices came to light through the revelations of documents leaker Edward Snowden, who has been praised as a patriot by some and vilified as a traitor by others.
Several court cases that could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court have been filed by attorney Larry Klayman on the dispute.
And WND reported earlier that Missouri was considering an amendment to its constitution that would provide privacy protection for “electronic communications and data.” Also, in Kansas, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, prefiled a bill that would “ban all state agencies and local governments in the state from possessing data ‘held by a third-party in a system of record’ and would prohibit any such information from being ‘subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.’”
According to spokesman Michael Maharrey of Tenth Amendment Center, the Washington plan would address a related issue, which also is being considered by other states.
It would turn off power and water to NSA operations in the state.
It’s a bipartisan state move and is being supported by Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, and Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace.
Their HB 2272 would make it the state policy “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.”
Maharrey explained, “Practically speaking, the bill prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. This includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity. It makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court. It blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.”
He had noted the disincentives for corporations.
Lawmakers in Oklahoma, California and Indiana already have proposed similar restrictions, and a senator in Arizona is working on the plan, meaning the NSA could set up an office in any of those states, but probably would have to have staff members carry bottles of water in and run computers on generators.
“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 Army’s Yakima Training Center. The NSA facility is in Taylor’s district, and he said he cannot sit idly by while a secretive facility in his own backyard violate the rights of people everywhere,” Maharrey reported.
“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,” Taylor told the center.
Officials noted that Washington’s Cray Inc., a computer company, also works with the NSA, but the bill “could make Cray ineligible for any contracts with the state or its political subdivisions.”
Also, in Washington state, public universities would be barred from cooperating with the NSA.
Maharrey said the bans all would create an impact, but the biggest probably would be the provision that is contained in other states’ efforts, too – banning the use of any such data collected in court unless it specifically is identified in a warrant.
“We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know from a Reuters report 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.”
More states are expected to follow up on the idea, he said.
“This idea is catching fire,” he said. “And why wouldn’t it? We have an out-of-control agency spying on virtually everybody in the world. We have a president and a Congress that appears poised to maybe put a Band-Aid on it. Americans are realizing if we are going to slow down the NSA, we are going to have to take a different approach. This is it.”
The Tenth Amendment Center said in Arizona, it’s state Sen. Kelli Ward who said she was introducing a bill to deny material support to the NSA in the Grand Canyon State.
The efforts align with a campaign by Offnow.org, which encourages states to not allow the physical services that the NSA needs to operate.
For example, regarding a new NSA facility in Utah, the campaign notes the new data center, “a massive spy complex, requires 1.7 million gallons of water every single day to operate.”
“Those massive supercomputers monitoring your personal information are water-cooled. They can’t function without the resources to keep them at operating temperature. That water is scheduled to be provided by the Jordan Valley River Conservancy District, ‘a political subdivision of the state of Utah.’
“Because of this, a state law can be passed banning this partnership. In short, they can turn the water off,” the group said.
OffNow.org national campaign lead Shane Trejo said there are “four strategic points where states can take action to thwart the effect of NSA spying: provision of resources, university partnerships, corporate sanctions, and information-sharing. Each bill introduced is an important piece of the puzzle.”
WND reported recently that Sen Rand Paul, R-Ky., is planning a class-action lawsuit against the NSA over the spying after recruiting thousands of people to be plaintiffs.
The news follows last month’s favorable ruling in a class-action legal challenge to NSA spy operations by Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch. In that case, the federal judge said the spy program is likely unconstitutional. The Obama administration has filed an appeal.
The senator’s campaign website was used to recruit names, a move set up after Paul suggested months ago he could force the government to change its strategies if he could get 10 million Americans to protest.
In a commentary for WND, Klayman welcomed Paul’s influence to the fight.
“I invite Sen. Paul to join our ongoing class actions, as they have already proven to be successful in large part – given Judge Leon’s unconstitutionality ruling. The other plaintiffs and I are pleased that Paul also is fighting to slay the NSA express,” Klayman wrote.
“The bottom line is this: I am pleased that the force of our legal actions with regard to the NSA and this huge violation of constitutional rights has finally caused many in the nation to take heed of the strength of our cases. For what is now occurring with this spy agency, and others like the CIA, cannot stand. We the people cannot allow a tyrannical government to run roughshod over our Fourth, First and Fifth Amendment constitutional rights. Our Founding Fathers risked their fortunes and lives to win freedom. We owe it to them to take whatever legal steps we must to preserve this freedom for ourselves, our loved ones, and the country as a whole.”
It was Judge Richard J. Leon, in two class-action cases that Klayman filed last June, who ruled against the NSA.
“I hereby give the government fair notice that should my ruling be upheld, this order will go into effect forthwith,” the judge wrote. “Accordingly, I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld. Suffice it to say, requesting further time to comply with this order months from now will not be well received and could result in collateral sanctions.”
The judge said the practice likely is unconstitutional, calling it “Orwellian.”
In a related development, the New York Times reported Wednesday that the NSA has embedded radio equipment and software in nearly 100,000 computers worldwide that lets it watch what happens on those machines.
The report said the program uses a covert channel of radio waves that are transmitted from tiny circuit boards or USB cards “inserted surreptitiously into the computers.”