Representative David Taylor is on a serious mission to limit the power of the NSA.
Until recently, the NSA’s facility at the Yakima Training Center–like Wonka’s factory–remained cloaked in secrecy. But that’s about to change. The site that NSA researcher James Bamford referred to as “Yakima’s listening post” in his 1982 book The Puzzle Palace is about to become big news.
On Jan. 15, Representative David Taylor (R-Moxee, WA) and Representative Louis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace) introduced HB2272, a.k.a The Fourth Amendment Protection Act. The bill is the first of its kind, and, if passed, its most immediate impact would likely be to limit the NSA’s right to prosecute using data that was acquired without a warrant. It amounts to a direct bipartisan attack on the NSA that is designed to–among other things–literally cut off its power here in Yakima.
Several states are considering similar bills, but due to the legislators’ swift action, the State of Washington was the first with a physical NSA site to introduce it into the legislative process. Taylor told Appleseed Media on Friday that it is now a model for legislation across the country.
“The bill prohibits all local and state government agencies from providing support of any kind to the NSA, including funding, material support, and services of any kind. It applies to all state entities, from public universities doing research, to local and county offices, to government-owned utilities like water and power,” he explains. “Public money just shouldn’t be going to help the government spy on the people.”
While clearly aimed at the NSA, the language protect civil liberties by prohibiting state and local entities from assisting any federal agency that is turning a blind eye to due process.
The Moxee-based legislator is deeply concerned about the reach of the NSA, and particularly bothered by the agency overstepping its bounds right here in his own backyard. He says that HB2272 was created in direct response to a November incident when a private company working with the NSA facility in Yakima unnecessarily and without a warrant collected and shared data with the Yakima Police Department. That activity coincided with the Million Mask March, which was a completely legal public gathering. Taylor understands the need for security, but also says that most the information in question was not needed by the NSA to fulfill its mission of protecting U.S. national security systems and producing foreign signals intelligence information.
Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center confirms, “We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues.”
The Yakima facility is visible from I-82. Some people know it’s there, but almost all related information is either classified and/or unconfirmed. According to Bamford, in 2002, Yakima was receiving roughly 2 million intercepts per hour, and had for years played a key part in the global surveillance program known as ECHELON. The Yakima Herald reported in April and May of 2013 that the site was due to close, presumably because its equipment is obsolete. Some of its staff and duties are scheduled to shift to Colorado and to the massive new data center in Utah. But as of today, “Yakima’s listening station” remains open and the information it gathers is admissible in court. And local and state authorities are aiding that process.
Taylor jokes about that heat he and Moscoso are getting from colleagues in Olympia for introducing the. “I say to him, hang in there, brother, we’ll get through it!” Yes, it’s a challenge, he says, but in the end, it’s a battle he’s eager to wage, because he believes that NSA is treading heavily on rights that are guaranteed to citizens. And if his email box is any indication, many voters are supporting his stand.
Taylor is working to drum up wide support for the bill, and asks anyone who has questions, comments, or recommendations to take part in the political process. After it was introduced on Jan. 15, it was referred to the House Judiciary committee where it will need to pass by majority vote before the full House can consider it. That needs to happen by Feb. 7 in order to meet the short session deadlines. The legislator asks that supporters call committee chair Linda Jinkins at 360.786.7930 and urge her to move the bill forward. Taylor’s office number is 360.786.7874. “The main thing I want to get across,” he says, “is that if this isn’t the answer, then let’s find another one. I’m willing to work on this issue with anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane), a co-sponsor of HB2272, told The New American, “This bill is important because secretly spying on one’s own citizens without due process is the very essence of tyranny. Simply claiming ‘national security’ doesn’t make something constitutional. […] If the three branches of the federal government won’t act to protect the rights of citizens, Washington will through HB2272.”
Note: Appleseed Media is following up with Taylor in an attempt to confirm the current status of the Yakima facility. Regardless of its fate, legislators will move forward with the bill in response to the precedent being set by the NSA’s current practices.
Source articles: Washington State Moves to Block NSA Surveillance (Info Wars, Jan 15, 2014); Help the NSA? You’ve Lost You’re Job! State’s Plan to Hinder Spy Ops Reaches New Levels (WDA, Jan 16, 2014); Washington State Proposes Criminalizing Help to NEA, Turning Off Resources to Yakima Faciltiy (Truthout, Jan 16, 2014); The Top Secret Rules That Allow NSA To Use Data Without a Warrant (The Guardian, June 20, 2013)