What are outraged American citizens to do after the federal government has pretty much decided to do nothing to fix the unconstitutional NSA spy program? Get the states involved! A handful of states across the country have already begun devising plans to thwart the dubious agency with state laws, including stopping the NSA facilities’ water and electricity access.
So far, six states (Missouri, California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Washington, and Indiana) have introduced bills that target the NSA. Though they all differ somewhat, each state's bill would impede NSA operations within their boundaries.
In Washington, for example, the bill would attack the NSA on multiple fronts:
- State and local officials would be barred from providing information or “support” to the NSA.
- The NSA would be forbidden from researching and recruiting at state universities.
- Evidence collected by the NSA would be inadmissible in state courts.
- Businesses that have contracts with the state would not be allowed to conduct business with the NSA in any capacity; companies that disobeyed would lose their contracts and face criminal charges.
- Access to water and electricity provided by the state would be cut off altogether.
The last one is particularly a doozy since the buildings would be unable to operate without power and water. NSA’s facility in Utah, for example, requires 1.7 million gallons of water each day. (Forget the warrant-less surveillance for a moment – can we get some eco activists on their case?) Presumably, the NSA would seek these pulled resources from private companies instead, but it would certainly make things more complicated for the agency.
That’s precisely the point, anyway. If the states can’t eliminate spying and mass data collection on innocent citizens altogether, they can at least put up obstacles that may deter them. Will the federal government still find it worthwhile to spy on citizens in a particular state when officials aren’t allowed to assist them? How about when the evidence they’ve gathered is ultimately banned from the courtroom?
Remarkably, participating states are seeing bipartisan support for these retaliatory steps. Though the NSA may be a contentious issue, opponents are hardly divided by party lines. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have taken issue with the assault on the Fourth Amendment and are willing to work together to protect constitutional rights.
As Mother Jones points out, it’s not unprecedented for states to take issue with national agencies. Colorado and Washington don’t work with the Drug Enforcement Administration to pursue marijuana smokers. Meanwhile, California passed its own laws to prevent turning over illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration for likely deportation.
It’s too soon to project whether the states will have any success getting these anti-NSA bills through their respective state legislatures – even critics of the program may be too shy to disobey a federal agency on this issue. Nonetheless, the early action has been enough to inspire additional bills, with politicians in Arizona, Utah, and Michigan indicating that they’re preparing to introduce similar legislation. If even just a couple of the states can put these bills into action, it will speak volumes on a symbolic level.
If President Obama isn’t willing to put a stop to this alarming program, it’s nice to see that many on the state level are set on honoring the U.S. Constitution – even if it means shutting the lights off by literally cutting off its electricity.