The OffNow coalition has now marched state and local efforts to stop unconstitutional NSA spying right onto the agency’s front porch.
Late last week, Maryland State Delegate Michael Smigiel introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act to end all state cooperation with the National Security Agency (NSA).
Based on model legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), HB1074 would ban Maryland state or local government from providing water, electricity or other resources to the NSA while it engages in warrantless mass-surveillance, and would make shared collected data inadmissible in state courts.
Smigiel said that even though the NSA has deep roots in Maryland, the state should no longer support an agency that ignores constitutional constraints and tramples on the privacy rights of the people.
“I want Maryland standing with its back to its people holding a shield. Not facing them holding a sword,” he said.
Ft. Meade serves as the home base for the NSA, and resource needs have created significant issues for the agency for more than 10 years. In 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported that the agency had maxed out the Baltimore-area power grid, causing insiders to fear that the problem “could force a virtual shutdown of the agency.”
While the NSA alleviated some of those concerns with new facilities in Utah, Texas and elsewhere, they still remain an issue. In December, the agency signed a new contract with Howard County, Md., to provide up to 5 million gallons of water per day to cool supercomputers in a new data center slated to open in 2016.
“Maryland has almost become a political subdivision of the NSA,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said. “The agency relies heavily on state and local help. This bill bans all of it.”
Smigiel said the bill is not merely a symbolic gesture. The Elkton Republican has a track record of working with Democrats on civil liberties related legislation, and said he believes he can garner the bipartisan support necessary to move the bill forward.
BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar called coming together across party lines to oppose unconstitutional NSA spying “imperative.”