In 2006, reports surfaced indicating that the NSA had maxed out capacity of the Baltimore-area power grid. Insiders said:
“The NSA is already unable to install some costly and sophisticated new equipment. At minimum, the problem could produce disruptions leading to outages and power surges.
At worst, it could force a virtual shutdown of the agency.”
August 6, 2006
In other words, the NSA has an Achilles heel.
To get around the physical limitation of the amount of power required to monitor virtually every piece of communication around the globe, the NSA started searching for new locations with their own power supplies.
The NSA chose the Utah Data Center in Bluffdale due to the access to cheap utilities, primarily water. The water-cooled supercomputers require 1.7 million gallons of water per day to function.
No water = No data center.
The water provided to the Utah Data Center comes from a political subdivision of the state of Utah.
They have the authority to turn that water off.
The situation is the same at many other locations. Read on for more details.
4TH AMENDMENT PROTECTION ACT
The model legislation (HERE), ready for introduction in any state, would ban a state (and all political subdivisions) from providing assistance or material support in any way with the NSA spying program.
This would include, but is not limited to:
- Refusing to supply water or electricity from state or locally-owned or operated utilities
- A ban on all law enforcement acceptance of information provided without warrant, by the NSA or it’s Special Operations Division (SOD)
- Severe penalties for any corporations providing services for or on behalf of the state which fill the gap and provide the NSA the resources it requires to stay functional.
While the federal government would not be prevented from bringing in its own supplies, it’s not likely that they have the capacity to do so.
The states and local communities should simply turn it off.
The legal doctrine behind this is “anti-commandeering.” It’s the principle that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to force the states (or local communities) to carry out federal laws, regulatory programs, and the like. The Supreme Court affirmed this three times in recent years, the cases being: 1997 Printz, 2002 New York, 2012 Sebelius. It also affirmed this doctrine in the 1842 Prigg case where states refused to assist the federal government in capturing and returning runaway slaves.
This is also consistent with what James Madison advised when writing about the Constitution in Federalist #46. Among the four steps he advised as “powerful means” to oppose federal power was “a refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.”
It’s not just Utah. The NSA is reliant on many states and local communities to provide the resources required to operate their spying programs.
In Texas, the new data center opening in San Antonio has its electricity provided exclusively by the the city-owned power company. And the NSA was quite upfront about the fact that Texas was chosen because of its independent power grid. The NSA is extremely concerned about basic utilities.
And states providing them don’t have to.
In Augusta Georgia, the “threat operations center” has its water and even sewage treatment provided by local government services.
There’s also NSA “data centers” or “listening posts” in Colorado, Washington, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Hawaii. Each one is a unique circumstance where a multi-prong strategy can and will create roadblocks to implementation.
While many locations rely on state or local governments to assist or directly provide badly-needed utilities, others partner closely with corporations to do so.
For example, in Augusta, Georgia, a partnership with Georgia Power (a subsidiary of the massive electric holding company in the US, the Southern Company), literally kept the lights on.
The local paper reported that “Before a partnership in 2006 with Georgia Power, outages were a regular occurrence on post, particularly during the summer, when heavy demands were placed on the system.”
The NSA has its tentacles deep into the youth as well, with heavy partnerships at Universities in all but 8 US states. In late 2012, the NSA reported that there are now 166 universities in this program. (see the full list here)
These “Centers of Academic Excellence” are not just a recruiting ground for future analysts in the massive spy centers around the country, they provide valuable research partnerships to bolster the NSA’s spying and data-collection capabilities. Universities are often provided with funding, scholarships and other tools to expand research and recruitment.
The NSA has often claimed to be engaging in such activities to protect you from “terrorists,” and many people have accepted this kind of personal intrusion with the belief that they were being kept safe. But the fact is that their programs are much broader – by far.
The Special Operations Division (SOD) was a highly-secret federal unit which is passing information collected without warrant by the NSA to state and local law enforcement for the investigation of regular crimes – not terrorism-related at all.
A multi-prong strategy is an absolute must when working to prevent the kind of 4th Amendment violations seen under the NSA spying program.
Currently, activists are engaged in the support of lawsuits from EFF and ACLU, and in support of Congressional legislation to limit or stop the NSA. But waiting for these to play out positively is a dangerous game of chicken.
A recent vote in Congress which failed to defund the NSA spying program indicates that relying on them to stop the NSA isn’t enough.
By approaching the NSA on multiple fronts, it’s certainly possible to overwhelm them and make their programs too difficult or costly to carry out. A program to Turn it Off and render the NSA’s spying program as good as null and void intersects in 5 main areas:
- State legislation – passed in every state, banning cooperation, compliance, and law enforcement collaboration.
- Local Resolutions – passed in every possible county, city and town, supporting these principles and calling on the state to pass the 4th Amendment Protection Act
- Corporate Protests – and opposition to those corporations providing the resources needed to carry out the NSA spying program.
- Campus Actions – including both protests against NSA/University partnerships, and organizational and student government resolutions formally calling for an end to such partnerships.
- Environmental concerns – the waste of resources is massive, with millions of gallons of water being used every single day at just one NSA facility.
From Thoreau to Rosa Parks, and from Ghandi to you – a successful strategy to protect your liberties requires non-compliance and peaceful resistance.
And, as Rosa Parks proved, saying “NO!” can change the world.