End the Lie

Utah legislator proposes a bill to sever water supply to massive NSA data center

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By End the Lie

Utah state capitol (Image credit: deltaMike/Flickr)

Utah state capitol (Image credit: deltaMike/Flickr)

The massive, secretive National Security Agency (NSA) data center in Utah could see its water supply cut if a bill proposed by a state representative is signed into law.

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Republican Marc Roberts’ legislation is part of a wider legislative movement attempting to cut off “material support” to NSA facilities in several states.

While 14 states are currently considering bills that would significantly inhibit the activities of the NSA, one of the most important may be the bill in Utah.

Roberts, a first-term legislator, is on what the Guardian called “a quixotic quest to check government surveillance starting at a local level.”

If signed into law, the bill would block any company in the state from supplying water to the Bluffdale data center, which is currently still under construction and will reportedly cost between $1 billion and $2 billion. Hardware, software, maintenance, etc. will likely raise that price significantly over the long term.

Roberts told the Guardian that he wants to send the federal government a message.

“[I]f you want to spy on the whole world and American citizens, great, but we’re not going to help you,” Roberts said.

The proposed bill, which is still awaiting cosponsors, would halt contracts that provide the 1.7 million gallons per day required to keep the computers in the facility cooled.

“Without question, the mass surveillance and data collection by the Utah Data Center is a delicate and important matter,” Roberts said, according to a Tenth Amendment Center press release.

Roberts said that despite the sensitive issues surrounding NSA surveillance, the Fourth Amendment is sufficiently clear.

“It simply protects us against unreasonable and unwarranted searches or seizures of our persons, private residencies and property, documents and information and personal and private belongings,” Roberts said. “This legislation preserves those rights to the people.”

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in November of last year that the city of Bluffdale agreed to sell water to the NSA data center at a rate below their own guidelines and the average price in Utah.

The paper also reported that Bluffdale had to issue a $3.5 million bond to help fund the construction of new water lines.

If Roberts’ bill is successful, it would likely mean the data center would not be able to function.

“No water equals no NSA data center,” Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, said.

The Tenth Amendment Center’s Mike Maharry said they are “going to push it as hard as we can” in Utah.

Other bills could have a similarly significant impact on NSA operations.

On Feb. 7, a bill was introduced in Maryland that would cut off both water and power to the NSA headquarters in Forte Meade.

The Maryland bill was introduced by eight Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates, according to the Associated Press.

A bill was also introduced on Jan. 21 in Tennessee that would block the state from providing “any material support” to the NSA, including water and electricity from public utilities.

NSA researcher James Bamford reported that there is a massive NSA facility at Oak Ridge, with most of the data running through it along with Fort Meade.

The reported aim of the Multiprogram Research Facility at Oak Ridge is to create computers fast enough to crack encryption.

The NSA is also reportedly working on a quantum computer that is capable of cracking most forms of encryption currently out of the reach of traditional computers.

The Guardian points out that much of this legislation faces quite unfavorable odds.

“The 4th Amendment Protection Act in Mississippi was referred to the state senate rules committee on 20 January, where it died on 4 February,” the Guardian reported.

It remains to be seen if other legislative efforts will face a similar fate.

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One Response to Utah legislator proposes a bill to sever water supply to massive NSA data center

  1. Jay Kenney February 13, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    FINALLY! Someone is trying to take some steps to disrupt the NSA’s rampage against civil liberties. I applaud his efforts and plan to follow his progress.


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