NASHVILLE, January 22, 2014– As eight states have introduced legislation to keep the NSA out of their borders, Tennessee’s newly introduced legislation packs the strongest punch yet.
The bill is known as the “Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act”. State Senator Stacey Campfield (R) and State Representative Andy Holt (R) are the Senate and House sponsors. The bill was drafted and lobbied for by the Tenth Amendment Center, a national think-tank, which seeks to impede unconstitutional federal laws, regulations and entities on the state level.
“We have an out of control federal agency spying on pretty much everybody in the world. I don’t think the state of Tennessee should be helping the NSA violate the Constitution and the basic privacy rights of its citizens – and we don’t have to,” Campfield said. “This bill may not stop the NSA, but it will darn sure stop Tennessee from participating in unjustified and illegal activities.”
Campfield’s comments hold strong warrant. The NSA has been operating directly underneath the nose of many Tennesseans without them ever knowing. A long-standing secretive NSA computing facility calls Oak Ridge, Tennessee home. According to NSA researcher James Bamford, the NSA runs most data it gathers “from code breaking to word captures,” through computers at it’s facility in Oak Ridge.
The Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act (Senate Bill 1849) will impede the NSA by “refusing material support, participation, or assistance, to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize the collection of 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 and seized.
From a practical standpoint, the legislation covers four major areas.
• 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.
• Makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.
• Blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds.
• Disincentivizes corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.
Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey provided the following statement:
“When Sen. Ward in Arizona announced a few weeks back that she planned to introduce the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, it was a novelty. People had this attitude like, ‘Oh, that’s cute. But it will never amount to anything.’ Today Tennessee makes the eighth state considering action to refuse cooperation with the NSA, including two states with physical facilities within their borders. And mark my words – more are coming. Big ones,” said Maharrey.
“James Madison said several states refusing to cooperate with officers of the union would create obstructions the federal government would not be willing to encounter. As more states get involved in this campaign, it it will create obstructions. This is not symbolic. We intend to make the NSA stop violating the Constitution.”
The Multiprogram Research Facility (MRF) sits discreetly on the East Campus of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Inside this top secret facility, NSA researchers work to build High Productivity Computers. The goal: make machines fast enough to crack encryption.
Numerous sources report the MRF will work in tandem with the data storage center in Bluffdale, Utah. The super-fast computers in Oak Ridge could conceivably break the encryption on reams of data stored in Utah, making its contents accessible to the NSA. This includes data of Americans vacuumed up by the spy agency.
A partnership between the University of Tennessee and Battelle runs the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. UT-Battelle’s contract ends in 2015, but the DOE has already declared its intent and started the process to extend it. That process will take some time and the proposed legislation could stop it.
Many co-sponsors of the Act have come forward to show their support for the legislation including State Rep. Courtney Rodgers (R), Rep. Tilman Goins (R), Rep. Sheila Butt (R), Rep. Terri Weaver (R), Rep. Jeremy Fasion (R) and Senator Mae Beavers (R). No Democrats have signed on as sponsors yet.
State Rep. Joe Carr (R) signed on as a co-sponsor to the Act this morning. Carr is Tea Party candidate currently running a campaign to unseat US Senator Lamar Alexander (R).