Oklahoma state legislator introduces bill to banish NSA

For the second time this week, a state lawmaker has committed to taking on unconstitutional NSA spying.

On Monday, Oklahoma Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) filed a bill that would prohibit state cooperation with the NSA and limit some of the practical effects of its vast data collection program. The bill was similar to a measure filed by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) in California that same day.

Based on model legislation drafted by the OffNow coalition, SB1252 makes it the policy of the state of Oklahoma to “refuse 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…”

The Fourth Amendment Protection Act addresses the relationship between the state and the NSA in four ways. 

First, it prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. This includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity if the agency ever builds a facility within the state.

Second, it blocks state universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds. Four Oklahoma state schools currently have partnerships with the NSA. These “Centers for Academic Excellence” serve as recruiting grounds and provide research to the agency. SB1252 would prevent other state schools from forming partnerships, in addition to addressing relationships currently in place.

Third, the bill blocks corporations doing business with the NSA from doing business with state or local governments. This will disincentivize private businesses from supporting unconstitutional spying.

Finally, it makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court.

This final provision will have the biggest immediate impact in Oklahoma.

A Reuters report in August, 2013, revealed that the NSA ‘s secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.” Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases “rarely involve national security issues,” and that the SOD directs local law enforcement to “conceal how such investigations truly begin.”

The NSA also shares information though state fusion centers. After the Patriot Act opened the door to increased information sharing between state and federal government, the feds created what is known as Information Sharing Environment (ISE). Federal agencies and departments which make up ISE include those in charge of the NSA/CSS. Per the ISE website, fusion centers serve the purpose of local and state law enforcement receiving information from those partner federal agencies.

With the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in place, defense attorneys will be able to challenge data gathered without a warrants and passed on to state or local law enforcement.  Such data would be excluded as evidence. Judges will be obligated to disallow data gathered without a warrant.

“We know the NSA is sharing unconstitutionally gathered information with state and local law enforcement agencies – and it has nothing to do with keeping us safe from terrorists. This should offend every American who cares about the Constitution,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey. “Oklahoma may not be able to stop the NSA from vacuuming up the data, but it can darn sure make it as useless as a three dollar bill to state and local cops.”

Dahm’s bill actually goes a step further than the version introduced in California. Lieu’s bill is considered a “starting point” by a spokesman for the Senator, and might be amended to include penalties for state agents violating the act. The Oklahoma bill already includes penalties.

SB1252 is scheduled for a first reading on Feb. 3. It will then receive its committee assignment.

ACTION ITEMS

In Oklahoma: Take action to support SB1252 HERE.

Other states: Contact your state legislators today – urge them to introduce similar legislation.  Model bills and contact info HERE.