Activists Push For Utah To Cut Off Public Utility Service To The NSA's Data Center

from the so-crazy-it-might-work-be-discussed-periodically dept

Plenty of legislation is currently aimed at the NSA’s collection programs. The agency also has the recommendations of various committees to contend with should the administration actually decide to hold up its end of the “debate” on intelligence gathering.

Of course, those that feel the government itself is irreversibly broken (and there are very many people who feel that) find these solutions inadequate — or at the very least, prone to subversion by career-minded bureaucrats or skittish policy makers who have last-second changes of heart in the face of “the terrorists will win” fearmongering.

So, another solution has been proposed, one that changes the field of play from politics to logistics.

The Tenth Amendment Center is encouraging passage of a model law it calls the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, which would go as far as barring the provision of water to the NSA’s $1.5 billion computing center in Bluffdale, Utah. At least one Utah lawmaker has agreed to support the bill, according to a Tenth Amendment Center spokesperson, who declined to identify the lawmaker before the bill is introduced.

The rationale behind the Tenth Amendment Center’s push to turn NSA officials into this game’s protagonist is the following:

1. Wait on Congress: They’ve already had plenty of chances to shut it down. Our representatives and senators keep rubber stamping it.

2. Wait for the Courts: When was the last time those black-robed federal employees did anything to limit federal power? They rubber stamp it too.

3. Wait for the President: Maybe the president will save the day. But the commission Obama formed to review NSA surveillance was packed with government insiders. More rubber stamps.

4. Follow the Advice of Madison and Jefferson: Act NOW on a state and local level, whether congress, the courts, or the President want us to or not.

There’s a fair amount of cynicism present here, not that all of it is unearned. This legislation would leverage public utilities (as an arm of the government) against its own kind — another government agency. The center hopes to turn every publicly-controlled utility against the NSA. No water means no speedy, powerful data centers. The center also asks electric utilities, sanitation services and the highway department to join Utah’s government in fostering the spirit of non-cooperation that made this country great. (Or rather, has a chance to make this country great again.)

It’s an interesting tactic, albeit one that’s no more assured of success than anything else currently on tap, legislation-wise. As it stands right now, Utah’s governing body probably considers the data center a win for local economics. That would explain the cut rate its giving the NSA’s information center on the millions of gallons of water it uses every day.

The city of Bluffdale successfully competed to supply water to the new NSA data center with an eye toward future economic development and offered discounted rates, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Nov. 30. The city is reportedly charging the NSA a rate of $2.05 for every 1,000 gallons of water, significantly less than the typical rate for high-volume consumers of $3.35 per 1,000 gallons.

The “nullification” gambit the Tenth Amendment Center is deploying aims to block out the NSA by utilizing the state’s innate right to combat overreaching federal power. The center claims one (unnamed) state rep has signed on, but the chances of widespread support are limited. A certain amount of self-interest is in play when a federal agency builds a multi-million dollar facility in the neighborhood. The promise of further riches down the road via federal programs and further agency expansion (not to mention the arrival of private government contractors looking to open offices nearer to the “heat”) will steer many legislators from denying service to a cash cow, no matter how unpopular that particular cow is.

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Comments on “Activists Push For Utah To Cut Off Public Utility Service To The NSA's Data Center”

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22 Comments
Just Sayin' says:

Typical

This is a great example of why American politics is failing. Groups refuse to address the underlying issue and bring it to a vote, and instead try to use various “defunding” or “disconnecting” options to try to get around the law.

The Republicans tried that with The Affordable Health Act, holding the entire country hostage as they tried to use their minority to ram through a defunding option for the program, which would have left the program on the books but without the money for implementation. It not only failed, but left the Republicans looking like idiots for even trying it. They didn’t have the votes or the will of the people behind them to change the law, so they tries to block it in this very dishonest way.

This group is trying to do the same thing in their own way. They won’t get the majority of the American people to rise up against the NSA, so rather they try to disrupt the (so far found legal) NSA activities by denying them access to services. It’s sneaky, dishonest, and fails to consider the will of the people as a whole. It’s not terrorism, but it’s certainly an attempt to hold NSA hostage.

There is no coming civil war, unless the minority of Americans decides to rise up against the will of the majority. The reality here is that (according to every survey I can find) most Americans just don’t care what the NSA is doing, it’s not important in their lives, it doesn’t change their lives, and doesn’t harm them. That basic fact doesn’t seem to match up with the rhetoric being piled on here and in much of the media, but it’s reality.

Just Sayin' says:

Re: Re: Typical

I don’t follow you. The will of the people is key to any democracy, and that means all of the people.

Also understand that by “minorities” I am not talking about skin color, race, creed, or religion – just your beliefs. Your belief system is, at least for the moment, in the minority. It’s the same problem the Republicans have faced trying to defund Obamacare – they are not only in the minority in the congress, but also of the minority view when it comes to their action.

Oh, and “crony vote system” is a sure sign that you have deluded yourself, considering everyone gets a vote – or did you skip that part?

Pragmatic says:

Re: Typical

Cogratulations, @ Just Sayin’, you’ve just described apathy.

Nobody is trying to hold the NSA hostage, but if you think that

what the NSA is doing, it’s not important in their lives, it doesn’t change their lives, and doesn’t harm them. That basic fact doesn’t seem to match up with the rhetoric being piled on here and in much of the media, but it’s reality.

you’re way wrong. First of all, many businesses are moving data centers out of the USA because of fears over privacy. That’s costing $$$ of lost business and we’ve already had companies (such as Lavabit) and non-profits (such as Groklaw) fold over this.

If you’re seeing this as “not my problem ’cause I’m not a techie,” you’re missing the point. People are being harmed by the NSA’s activities.

That the couch potatoes who either don’t vote or do, but don’t pay attention so vote in the usual suspects every time aren’t running down the streets with torches and pitchforks is down to the fact that they don’t think for themselves and aren’t interested in keeping an eye on the powers that be. And the media has failed us by not doing its job. If the information they require to make a decision on whether or not to take this on or leave it be isn’t made widely available, they’re not going to do much about it, are they?

Secondly, when we talk about this, it’s not rhetoric, but you’re not going to see the overreach and privacy invasion as a problem till you end up on a no-fly list for an off-color joke or something like that.

If you do fall foul of the surveillance state, will you come back to TD to tell us about it or will you continue to shill for the NSA?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Typical

The reality here is that (according to every survey I can find) most Americans just don’t care what the NSA is doing

You and I must see different polls. The majority of the ones that I’ve seen show that most Americans strongly disapproves of the NSA activities. The NSA itself thinks so, too, which is why they’ve embarked on their rather hilarious PR campaign.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Typical

The ACA and this case are very different situations. In the former, the House first passed the legislation, and then later tried to screw it up. With the NSA, the federal government is doing something that the locals don’t like. Since the locals have no authority to change federal policy, they’re doing what they can to interfere with the federal government’s ability to take what they view as nefarious action.

The House Republicans looked like idiots not because they were trying to fix something they saw as a problem, but because they were trying to obstruct a law that they themselves helped pass. IMO anyway. If they had pulled all those shenanigans over something the executive branch did without their consent – let’s say, massive surveillance abuse by the NSA, just for example* – it would have made a lot more sense.

* ignoring for the sake of argument that Congress wasn’t doing their job of overseeing the NSA, hopefully you get the point anyway

Anonymous Coward says:

This will fail even if it happens, the NSA will just build a nuclear power plant and a reservoir with a water treatment plant to remove the sewage .. this sounds like a plan more so than something that will remove them from their current state of being .. I mean honestly who wants a data center that’s subject to power outages when you can be completely self sufficient..

TrueRedandBluePatriot says:

Obama is merely a puppet. His real name is Barry, he’s a former communist, belonged to the terrorist group weatherman, has close connections to the black panther, his wife and children are not his, he is born in Kenya.

But it’s not about it. We don’t need leaders attending fictional powers like presidency, but we have that to stop the bad guys. It’s the bankers that are the real enemy, the foreigner bankers, and also Rockerfellers, Illuminati/Zion/Religion.

Anarchism is worth a shot.

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