By Columnist Jim Kouri
While intelligence gathering and analysis are considered federal activities, California may be one of the first of 50 states to stop President Barack Obama's National Security Agency (NSA) domestic spy program in its tracks, officials from a grassroots organization that opposes unconstitutional laws, regulations and actions announced on Monday.
On July 6, the first Monday of the New Year, California's State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in an effort to ban state support of the NSA, according to officials with the non-profit, nonpartisan Tenth Amendment Center on Monday.
“State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency from indiscriminate spying on its own citizens and gathering electronic or metadata that violates the Fourth Amendment,” Sen. Lieu, a Democrat, said on Monday.
Records show the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Jr., initially lied to Congress and denied the existence of NSA’s blanket phone surveillance of all Americans. Multiple media reports regarding NSA activities have now caused Clapper to confess to lying and that the NSA has, in fact, been collecting phone information on all 317 million Americans for years. A federal judge recently declared the NSA’s blanket phone monitoring program to be unconstitutional, calling the dragnet ‘near Orwellian.’
Judge Richard Leon of the District Court for the District of Columbia in the federal lawsuit Klayman v. Obama (13-cv-881) had ruled on Dec. 16, 2013, that the NSA's spy program violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Judge Leon characterized the intelligence program as being "almost Orwellian."
Based on model legislation drafted by a bipartisan coalition, SB828 prohibits the state of California and its subdivisions from: “Providing material support, participation or assistance in any form to a federal agency that claims the power, by virtue of any federal law, rule, regulation or order, to collect electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”
In addition, the proposed legislation prohibits any state funding to the NSA or any entity supporting it in the state.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the legislation:
1. Prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. Includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity.
2. Makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.
3. Blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
4. Provides sanctions against corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.
“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place,” Lieu said. “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government.”
Californian lawmakers and its neighboring state Arizona's legislature are interested in all four of the above listed provisions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas also introduced legislation which covers the second step of the above listed four-step plan. In a press statement, Tenth Amendment Center communications director, Mike Maharrey, says he expects at least four other states to undertake passage of a similar bill during the 2014 session.
While the NSA does not currently operate a data or “threat operations” center in California, Mike Maharrey believes states around the country need to pass similar legislation to make the expansion of President Barack Obama's spy program even more difficult.
“We know the NSA has aggressively worked to expand its physical locations because it maxed out the Baltimore area power grid in 2006. They’ve built new locations in Utah and Texas, and expanded in several other states,” Maharrey said.
“Since the NSA is expanding so wildly, it's not unlikely that they're planning to build new data centers and ‘threat operations centers’ in other locations. California’s high-tech industry makes it a likely candidate. We can’t wait until the NSA opens up shop. This act yanks away the welcome mat and tells the NSA, ‘We don't want you in California unless you follow the Constitution,’” he added.