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Washington and National Media Lying About Extent of Utah Legislature Drive to Cut Power on NSA

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Utah – Achilles’ Heel of the Surveillance State

“Turn it off!” campaign targets the NSA’s Utah Data Center

by Justin Raimondo, February 14, 2014
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The movement to end the Surveillance State is finally getting serious. With the failure by Congress to rein in the NSA – although the heroic Rep. Justin Amash nearly succeeded in doing so – activists on the state level are mounting a campaign that promises to hit Big Brother where it really hurts – by cutting off the NSA’s water supply at its Bluffdale, Utah, Data Center.

A bill introduced in the Utah legislature by state representative Marc Roberts (R-Santaquin) would cut off the water supply to the NSA’s massive facility which will gobble up 1.7 million gallons of water per day – in a state already hit hard by a region-wide drought.

What do they need all that water for? To cool the mega-computers housing the NSA’s huge store of intercepted data – virtually all the emails transmitted in the country and beyond, including phone calls and our all-important “meta data.” The heavily fortified Data Center will store all this purloined information in four halls, each 25,000 square feet, with an additional 900,000 square feet for bureaucratic high mucka-mucks and their administrative and technical peons. The electricity bill alone is estimated at $40 million annually.

The people of Utah, however, are having second thoughts about having this monster in their midst.

“If you want to spy on the whole world and American citizens, great, but we’re not going to help you,” says Roberts.

The Roberts bill is part of a nationwide “Nullify the NSA” campaign spearheaded by the OffNow Coalition, a politically diverse group – including Antiwar.com, one of the founding members – that is pushing model legislation already introduced in fifteen states and counting: if passed, these bills would not only forbid local publicly owned water utilities from servicing the NSA, but would also stop any sort of cooperation and/or subsidies from going to the spy agency – including in the educational sphere. The University of Utah, which is publicly funded, has been sucking up to the NSA in order to qualify for grants and has even recently inaugurated a new course on “data management” at the NSA’s suggestion. But the University of Utah chapter of Young Americans for Liberty is on their case, along with Roberts – and a good number of state legislators of both parties.

Former Utah governor and Republican squish Jon Huntsman, whose laughablepresidential campaign garnered most if not all its support from the media, apparently cut a deal with the NSA to exempt the Data Center from taxes on their usage of resources such as water and electricity. State lawmakers, however, aren’t buying it. A bill introduced by Republican state senator Jerry Stevenson, SB 45, which would exempt a number of federal projects – including NSA facilities – from state resource taxes is running into vocal opposition. “This property is already getting a great deal on water, and creates very few jobs on a choice piece of land,” averred Democrat Jim Dabkis, of Salt Lake City, during debate. “Why do we want to give up that utility tax and have the rate payers from the state have to make up for what is really very little contribution from the rest of the federal government?”

Good question, to which supporters of the bill answer: Huntsman made a deal with the feds and we have to stick by it. But there isn’t much sentiment to abide by an agreement that was apparently made in secret. Says Dabkis:

“I’ve asked, and I have not been able to be provided with it, any piece of paper that says as part of this agreement to bring this very low-job development… That here is commitment that the State of Utah makes [to the federal government] that you don’t have to pay the utility taxes.”

In reply, Stevenson bleated that “there is a great deal of institutional memory that puts this agreement in place.” But that memory is apparently too ephemeral to have been written down in black and white, as Stevenson sheepishly admitted.

Stevenson’s fellow Republicans aren’t too hot on the NSA either. Interrogated by state senator Wayne Harper as to why Stevenson refused to delete the most controversial section of his bill – the part shielding the NSA Data Center – the Taylorsville Republican said: “I don’t remember that I made any commitments to giving tax subsidies to a spy center.” State senator Margaret Dayton (R-Orem) doesn’t recall that either, nor does she remember repealing state laws mandating local control over tax waivers:

“[The data center is] not creating jobs, it is creating a lot of consternation in my area…[this was] not something discussed with the legislature as far as I am aware of.”

“Creating a lot of consternation” – this is the key to beating the NSA and its neoconand “progressive” defenders. This is what we have to do in every locality, but especially in Utah – the Achilles heel of the Surveillance State.

Read the rest here: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/02/13/utah-achilles-heel-of-the-surveillance-state/



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