PROPOSALS by LOCAL LAWMAKERS
WITHHOLDING PUBLIC UTILITIES
Nullifiers Have A Plan To Stop The NSA: Turn Off Its Water Supply
by Eric Lach / December 6, 2013
A group of activists has a plan to take on the National Security Agency. They’re going to do it nullification-style. They’re going to shut off the water. The California-based Tenth Amendment Center has teamed up with a few other organizations to promote model legislation that would have states refuse to cooperate with the NSA. There are a few ways this would work, but the flashiest part of the plan is to have Utah cut off the water supply to the NSA’s Utah Data Center. No water means no cooling for the agency’s massive computers. Or so the argument goes. Here’s the web ad the groups have put together:
The model legislation put together by The Tenth Amendment Center is called the 4th Amendment Protection Act. It would do a number of things. It would prohibit state officials and employees from providing support to the NSA. It would prohibit state resources from being used to support the NSA. It would bar information collected by the NSA from being used in criminal investigation or prosecution. It would bar state universities from working with the NSA. And it would bar corporations that provide services to the NSA from working for or providing services to the state.
In an interview with TPM on Friday, Michael Boldin, the executive director of The Tenth Amendment Center, acknowledged that his group had a long, hard fight ahead. But he believes the issue of NSA mass surveillance — unlike other issues the center has worked on, like federal gun law nullification — crosses partisan lines. And he compared his group’s efforts to those of the Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks. “We believe when things are bad enough, you have to start looking at the Rosa Parks method of how to deal with it,” Boldin said. “Sooner or later you got to just sit down and say, ‘No, we’re not going to participate in this.'” Asked about a report that a Utah lawmaker had committed to introducing the 4th Amendment Protection Act in that state, Boldin said the last time his group had spoken with the lawmaker was about two weeks ago, and he cautioned that “sometimes they back out.” In the meantime, Boldin’s group has also put together a website, nullifynsa.com, to help promote their cause. “We’re not also trying to talk about the traditional Calhoun-type of nullification which is absolutely insane,” Boldin explained. “The Calhoun thing, which is crazy, is taking the view that one state can say that, ‘Oh, this law doesn’t exist any more.’ And that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to, in practice, come up with ways to stop participating — again the Rosa Parks method — stop participating in so many different ways, that it really just makes their attempt to do what they want to do almost impossible.”
MEANWHILE in MARYLAND
Maryland lawmakers want to cripple the NSA’s headquarters
by Jacob Kastrenakes / February 11, 2014
Legislators in Maryland want to turn the lights out on the NSA — literally. A bill introduced last Thursday to its House of Delegates would bar state agencies, utilities, and pretty much anything that receives state funds from providing assistance to federal agencies that collect electronic data or metadata without a specific warrant to do so. Namely, the delegates are thinking of the National Security Agency, which is headquartered just outside their state’s capital.
The legislation is nearly identical to bills introduced elsewhere across the country, such as California, and would result in state water and electrical utilities being unable to serve the NSA — a major headache, if there ever was one. “It does pretty much say we’re going to cut off water and electricity to the NSA,” Maryland Delegate Mike Smigiel, the bill’s primary sponsor, tells The Verge. Though cutting off water and electricity would have the most immediate impact, the legislation would also stop the NSA from using state universities for research, make any evidence the NSA gathers inadmissible in state courts, and effectively fire any state employee who helps the NSA.
Smigiel, chair of the Tea Party caucus in Maryland’s House, introduced the legislation, known as the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, along with seven other Republican sponsors. At a minimum, their goal is to get legislators discussing the federal government’s accountability. “I’m hoping it is a reminder to all elected officials that we don’t owe an allegiance to the federal government, we owe an allegiance to the Constitution,” Smigiel says. “We don’t need people in office who are going to help the federal government violate our constitutional rights.”
Though similar legislation has been introduced and discussed in other states, it has a particular importance in Maryland thanks to the presence of the NSA’s headquarters. “Clearly you could not use this mechanism from a state level if you were in Iowa talking about how you wanted to stop the NSA,” Smigiel says. “You wouldn’t be able to threaten what we can do here physically.” The NSA both needs water and electricity in bulk to operate its computers. According to The Washington Post, an upcoming NSA data center in Maryland will use as much as 5 million gallons of water per day when it opens in 2016.
The campaign to shut off the NSA’s water and electricity actually stems from the Tenth Amendment Center, which drafted model legislation on which Maryland’s proposal is based. In particular, the Tenth Amendment Center is also hoping to see the NSA’s water supply turned off in Utah, where the agency operates another large data center. Though it’s a roundabout way of dealing with the NSA and unlikely to be a widely supported measure, Smigiel thinks it’s fitting: “I think it was Mark Twain who said, ‘Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.'”
Washington State Bill Proposes Criminalizing Help to NSA, Turning Off Resources to Yakima Facility
The state level campaign to turn off power and electricity to the NSA got a big boost Wednesday. In a bipartisan effort, Washington became first state with a physical NSA location to consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, designed to make life extremely difficult for the massive spy agency. Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee) and Rep Rep. Luis Moscoso (D- Mountlake Terrace) introduced HB2272 late Tuesday night. 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.” 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. And it disincentivizes corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.
Lawmakers in Oklahoma, California and Indiana have already introduced similar legislation, and a senator in Arizona has committed to running it there, 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 (YTC). 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. “We’re running the bill to provide protection against the ever increasing surveillance into the daily lives of our citizens,” he 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.” According to documents made public by the US Military, as of 2008, a company called PacifiCorp serves as the primary supplier of electric power, and Cascade Natural Gas Corporation supplies natural gas to YTC. The Kittitas Public Utility District, a function of the state of Washington, provides electric power for the MPRC and the Doris site, but no documentation has yet proven that it also provides electricity used directly by the NSA facility on site. And while YTC does provide a bulk of its own water, documents also show that some of it gets there by first passing through upstream dams owned and operated by the State. The Army report states, “YTC lies within three WAUs whose boundaries coincide with WRIAs, as defined by the State of Washington natural resource agencies.” WAU’s are Washington State Water Administration Units. WRIAs are Washington State Water Resource Inventory Areas. A Washington company also has a strong link to the NSA. Cray Inc. builds supercomputers for the agency.
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 Cray ineligible for any contracts with the state or its political subdivisions. Three public universities in Washington join 166 schools nationwide partnering with the NSA. Taylor’s bill would address these schools’ status as NSA “Centers of Academic Excellence,” and would bar any new partnerships with other state colleges or universities. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says the bills 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 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. Maharrey said he expects at least three more states to introduce the act within the next few weeks. “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.”
Utah Legislators Move to Kill NSA Data Center
by Michael Lotfi / February 12, 2014
Can Utah shut down the new NSA data center by turning off the water? A new bill introduced by state Rep. Marc Roberts seeks to do just that. The legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) called OffNow Coalition. The Utah Fourth Amendment Protection Act would expressly prohibit state material support, participation, and assistance to any federal agency that collects electronic date or metadata without a search warrant “that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”
“Without question, the mass surveillance and data collection by the Utah Data Center is a delicate and important matter,” Roberts said. “But for me, the language of the Fourth Amendment is clear. It simply protects us against unreasonable and unwarranted searches or seyoutizures of our persons, private residencies and property, documents and information and personal and private belongings. This legislation preserves those rights to the people.” This puts contracts that provide the 1.7 million gallons of water a day necessary to cool the NSA computers at its Bluffdale facility in the crosshairs. Bluffdale, a political subdivision of Utah, provided the NSA with a sweetheart water deal. The bill would begin the process of ending that deal, potentially crippling the NSA’s ability to keep the facility functional. “No water equals no NSA data center,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said. He called the potential impact of this legislation significant, especially compared to what Congress has done to deal with the agency. “In 1975, Sen. Frank Church warned that the power of the NSA could enable ‘total tyranny.’ He recommended that Congress should limit the agency’s power. Almost four decades later, we’re still waiting. Congress is not going to stop the NSA. The people and their states have to,” Boldin said. “Turn it off.”
BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar echoed Boldin’s enthusiasm for state action. “At stake is nothing less than our nation’s triumph in the Cold War. The NSA’s decade of warrantless surveillance en masse assaults not only the rights of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans, and our democracy as a whole, but resembles Soviet-style spying — on meth, empowered and amplified by the past generation’s remarkable advances in computing technology,” he said. “Utah residents have a chance to take matters into their own hands, defending democracy by shutting off state resources consumed by the Bluffdale data center in its assault on We the People, our fundamental rights, and the Constitution that enshrined them.” Notable anti-establishment figures such as Naomi Wolf and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg advise the BORDC. “The NSA was welcomed by politicians in Utah with a promise that their activities would be “conducted according to constitutional law”. As we all know, that promise has been violated—institutionally, repeatedly, and aggressively,” said Utah Libertas Institute President Conor Boyack. ”If Congress and the Courts are unable or unwilling to rein in this beast and put a stop to the rising surveillance state, then it’s up to the states to stake their ground and resist such broad violations of the Constitution. This new bill, along with others like it in over a dozen states, would accomplish that very thing.”
As Boyack points out, Utah doesn’t stand alone. Earlier this week, a group of Maryland legislators introduced a similar bill, targeting water and other resources to NSA headquarters. Lawmakers in more than 10 other states, including California, Vermont and Alaska, have also introduced the legislation. A bill in Tennessee addresses material support and resources to the NSA’s encryption-breaking facility at Oak Ridge Boldin said other states need to join the push, even those without NSA facilities. He called it essential. “If enough states do this in the coming years, the NSA won’t have a place in the country where their spy centers are welcome,” he said. Other provisions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act would also have an impact. The bill would make data collected by the NSA and shared with state and local law enforcement in Utah inadmissible in court, unless a specific warrant is issued.
TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey said that this provision might prove as important as cutting off the water, because it erases a practical effect of NSA spying. “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,” he said. “This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening immediately.”
The legislation rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not. The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US, serves as the modern cornerstone. The majority opinion deemed commandeering “incompatible with our constitutional system.”
“The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.” Boldin emphasized this is just the beginning. “It took the people of Illinois ten years to legalize marijuana for medical use,” he said. “This isn’t going to be easy, and we’re not stopping until we win. The NSA has a choice; follow the constitution or get the hell out.”
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is in charge of developing, deploying and operating secret reconnaissance satellites. With a budget request of $10.3 billion, it is the third-largest U.S. intelligence agency. It is headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia
NO SUCH AGENCY
by Trevor Paglen / 10 Feb 2014
This story is published in collaboration with Creative Time Reports.
What does a surveillance state looks like?
Over the past eight months, classified documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed scores of secret government surveillance programs. Yet there is little visual material among the blizzard of code names, PowerPoint slides, court rulings and spreadsheets that have emerged from the National Security Agency’s files. The scarcity of images is not surprising. A surveillance apparatus doesn’t really “look” like anything. A satellite built by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) reveals nothing of its function except to the best-trained eyes. The NSA’s pervasive domestic effort to collect telephone metadata also lacks easy visual representation; in the Snowden archive, it appears as a four-page classified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since June 2013, article after article about the NSA has been illustrated with a single image supplied by the agency, a photograph of its Fort Meade headquarters that appears to date from the 1970s.
The photographs – which are being published for the first time – show three of the largest agencies in the U.S. intelligence community. The scale of their operations was hidden from the public until August 2013, when their classified budget requests were revealed in documents provided by Snowden. Three months later, I rented a helicopter and shot nighttime images of the NSA’s headquarters. I did the same with the NRO, which designs, builds and operates America’s spy satellites, and with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which maps and analyzes imagery, connecting geographic information to other surveillance data. The Central Intelligence Agency – the largest member of the intelligence community – denied repeated requests for permission to take aerial photos of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
My intention is to expand the visual vocabulary we use to “see” the U.S. intelligence community. Although the organizing logic of our nation’s surveillance apparatus is invisibility and secrecy, its operations occupy the physical world. Digital surveillance programs require concrete data centers; intelligence agencies are based in real buildings; surveillance systems ultimately consist of technologies, people, and the vast network of material resources that supports them. If we look in the right places at the right times, we can begin to glimpse America’s vast intelligence infrastructure. These new images of the NSA, NRO, and NGA are being placed in the public domain without restriction, to be used by anyone for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution. They can be found on Creative Time Reports, which commissioned this piece, as well as on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons and The Intercept. Download high resolution images of these photos: NSA, NRO, NGA
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is responsible for collecting, analyzing and distributing intelligence derived from maps and imagery. According to documents provided by Edward Snowden, the NGA’s budget request was $4.9 billion last year – more than double its funding a decade ago. It is headquartered in Springfield, Virginia.
PRIVACY by DESIGN
6 Anti-NSA Technological innovations that May Just Change the World
by S.C.G. / February 12, 2014
Rather than grovel and beg for the U.S. government to respect our privacy, these innovators have taken matters into their own hands, and their work may change the playing field completely.
People used to assume that the United States government was held in check by the constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and which demands due process in criminal investigations, but such illusions have evaporated in recent years. It turns out that the NSA considers itself above the law in every respect and feels entitled to spy on anyone anywhere in the world without warrants, and without any real oversight. Understandably these revelations shocked the average citizen who had been conditioned to take the government’s word at face value, and the backlash has been considerable. The recent “Today We Fight Back” campaign to protest the NSA’s surveillance practices shows that public sentiment is in the right place. Whether these kinds of petitions and protests will have any real impact on how the U.S. government operates is questionable (to say the least), however some very smart people have decided not to wait around and find out. Instead they’re focusing on making the NSA’s job impossible. In the process they may fundamentally alter the way the internet operates.
1 – Decentralized Social Media : http://vole.cc
Anyone who was paying attention at all over the past several years knows that many of the top social media websites Facebook and Google have cooperated with the NSA’s surveillance program under PRISM, handing over the personal information that they’ve been hoarding over the years. Many of us have grown to despise these companies but continue to use their services due to the fact that no real competitors have presented themselves. Yes there are a few sites oriented towards the anti-government niche but nothing that has the potential of opening up the kind of reach that’s possible on Facebook or Google plus. The underlying problem here is that the server technology to run a site even a fraction of the size of Facebook is highly expensive, and to build and maintain a code base that can handle millions of users requires a full time team of highly skilled programmers. What this means is that anyone who wants to launch a real competitor to these sites would have needed to be well funded and have a sustainable business model. But what if someone came up with a system that removed the need for massive centralized servers? That’s just what vole.cc is working to accomplish. Vole.cc is a decentralized social media system in development based on bittorrent and Ember.js which completely cuts the server out of the equation and allows users to build social media networks without exposing their personal information to “authorities” or data mining companies.
2 – Getsync Decentralized and Encrypted File Sharing – A Dropbox Alternative http://getsync.com
With the revelations that data in Apple’s iCloud was available to the NSA as part of PRISM it has become clear that any centralized file sharing service is vulnerable, and any information that you upload to services like dropbox may end up being inspected by government agents. The folks at Bittorrent didn’t like that idea, so they decided to build a viable alternative, one that doesn’t depend on a centralized server at all and encrypts your data to make it difficult if not impossible to open without your permission. The service claims to already have amassed over 2 million users. Interestingly the vole.cc social media project uses Getsync to manage the social media data on your computer.
3 – Decentralized & Encrypted Communications – Bittorrent Chat
Don’t like the fact that the NSA has been rummaging through your skype chats, emails and other instant messaging services? Well if you were a bit tech savvy you might have opted to set up your own mumble server or IRC channel, but this route will likely never be approachable for the average citizen and the reliance on a centralized server brings security vulnerabilities. However work is currently underway on a protocol that will completely remove the need for a centralized server and cut the NSA out of the loop entirely.
4 – Decentralized Websites
This year isohunt.com was taken down, and the PirateBay has had to change domains several times work around domain name seizures and ip blocking in many countries. Those of you who have been paying attention know that there is much more at stake here than the survival of file sharing sites. Governments around the world have come to view the internet as a threat to their dominance due to the fact that it enables citizens to communicate outside of official channels and organize resistance. Repeated attempts to pass laws like SOPA, PIPA, and the TPP illustrate very clearly that government officials have the entire internet in their cross-hairs. The PirateBay however has come up with a solution for their site which may end up changing the entire way we browse the internet. PirateBay is developing a software that distributes its website among its users making any attempt to take down their website irrelevant. While this software is only aimed at protecting PirateBay the concept could (and should) be applied to the rest of the web. Doing so would not only make it impossible for the government to take down websites, but it would also make it much harder for them to spy on you through the websites that you visit.
5 – Anti-NSA Phones – Blackphone
The NSA has been recording and listening to phone conversations of people all over the world without warrants. Even Angela Merkel’s phone was tapped. It doesn’t help that the worlds two most powerful phone manufacturers, Apple and Google, are in bed with the NSA. One Swiss company decided to do something about that and they’ve developed a phone designed to block the NSA and to protect your privacy. They’re calling it Blackphone.
6 – Fully Encrypted Email
You may not realize it, but any time you send an email you are sending an enormous amount of information to the recipient (and any 3rd party intercepting your communications). Among this information is your ip address which in many countries can be used to pinpoint your location on a map to startling precision. This is due to the fact that even if you encrypt your actual message the headers themselves are not encrypted. There is a project underway right now to change this, it’s called Darkmail. The darkmail project aims to introduce a “unique end-to-end encrypted protocol and architecture that is the ‘next-generation’ of private and secure email”. If they succeed, the NSA could monitor your emails all they want, but all they will be able to see is the size of the message.
Put all these technologies together and what we see emerging is a new paradigm of communications where decentralized networks replace massive servers, and where social media giants like Facebook and Google may very well go the way of the dinosaur myspace. If you can’t beat them at their game, make their game irrelevant.