On Tuesday, a coalition of groups spanning the political spectrum joined forces to launch the Turn It Off campaign, an effort to undermine the National Security Agency’s ability to monitor Americans’ phone calls and emails through a variety of State and local efforts.
The activist groups, which include the Tenth Amendment Center, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Antiwar.com, Revolution Truth, Downsize DC, the Libertas Institute in Utah and We Texans, have offered a number of suggestions for stopping the NSA based on the principles of nullification and local power.
In one example of how Americans could shut down the agency’s massive spying efforts, the coalition suggests that it could be as simple as denying the NSA the water needed to cool its massive data collection centers.
Via Turn It Off:
The new Utah Data Center, a massive spy complex, requires 1.7 million gallons over 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.
One way Utah could deny the Federal spy facility water would be through the passage model legislation the coalition has produced, deemed the 4tt Amendment Protection Act. As written, the legislation would bar State and local governments from helping the NSA carry out its spying program in any way.
For example, officials in States where the act was in place would be barred from:
- Delivering, or assisting in any way with the delivery of, natural resources to NSA facilities.
- Using information in criminal investigations when provided without warrant from the NSA.
- Continuing business with corporations assisting the NSA by denying them State and local contracts.
The act would also put in place regulations which would defund universities that have major partnerships with the NSA — there are 166 throughout the Nation — at the State level.
The coalition also touts Supreme Court rulings that allow States to opt out of aiding the Federal government to carry out its programs. In the four cases cited by the coalition (the latest of which was Printz v. US in 1997), the Supreme Court has held that the Federal government may not commandeer State agencies or resources to enforce or implement Federal acts.
“Northern states utilized this strategy to resist the horrible Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and it was extremely successful,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “Federal law stripped away the most basic right of due process from any black person accused of being a fugitive slave. Northern states said, ‘No!’ and passed personal liberty laws refusing cooperation with federal slave catchers. Our plan is to use their strategy and resist this blatant attack on the Fourth Amendment.”
The main goal, according to the activists, is to circumvent the legislative and executive branches of government, which have shown little interest in quelling the NSA’s powers, and to localize the fight against threats to civil liberty.
“The bottom line is that there is nothing in the Constitution that says states have to cooperate with the federal government as it violates your rights,” Maharrey said. “If Congress and the president won’t do anything about this out of control spy agency, the state and local governments will.”
Learn more about the Turn It Off campaign here.