Washington State Bill Would Criminalize Working With NSA

Bipartisan bill targets corporations, officials who provide 'material support' to spy agency.

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander speaks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
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Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would prohibit state and local officials from providing "material support" to the National Security Agency.

If the bill becomes law, it would deny NSA facilities access to water and electricity from public utilities. The bill would also outlaw NSA research partnerships with state universities and forbid companies with state contracts from working with the NSA.

Businesses with state contracts and state or local officials who provide support or services to the NSA would be guilty of a misdemeanor if the bill passes.

"If you have a contract, you're not going to anymore and the prosecutor can bring charges," explains Republican state Rep. David Taylor, who introduced the bill with Democratic state Rep. Luis Moscoso.

[RELATED: California Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Banish NSA]

"For a lot of my constituents this doesn't go far enough," Taylor tells U.S. News.

Republican state Reps. Jason Overstreet and Matt Shea are co-sponsoring the bill. Taylor says he expects more co-sponsors to join Wednesday. The state house has 98 members.

Legislators in several other states – including Arizona, California and Indiana – are sponsoring similar bills, all modeled on the state-level "Fourth Amendment Protection Act" proposal drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center.

But Washington state is the first where a known NSA center might be affected. That NSA listening post, located within the U.S. Army's Yakima Training Center, is in Taylor's district.

[READ: Obama's NSA Reform May Kill Lawsuits, Reduce Privacy]

"I grew up just north or the training center, now I live just south of the training center," he says. "I'd love to know what they do there." The center has large antennas and satellite dishes, he says.

The precise impact of the bill on that NSA center is "still a little gray," Taylor says, because the base supplies its own water and electricity.

Taylor hopes to have a committee hearing on the bill before Feb. 5, the cut-off for the current "short" legislative session, followed by a floor vote.

Mike Maharrey, communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center, notes the bill would ban NSA-produced evidence from state courts. Reuters reported in August the Drug Enforcement Administration reverse engineers cases to obscure the origin of investigations that began with an NSA tip.

[ALSO: NSA Can Map Your Movements With Cell Tower Data]

"This bill would make that information inadmissible in state court," Maharrey said. "This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening. This is a no-brainer. Every state should do it."

Maharrey notes that a Washington state company, Cray Inc., has built supercomputers for the NSA and may be affected if the bill becomes law.

The OffNow coalition of advocacy groups, which includes the Tenth Amendment Center and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, is urging Utah lawmakers to pass their own version of the legislation to override the city of Bluffdale's water contract with the NSA's $1.5 billion Utah Data Center. No legislator has publicly announced they will sponsor the bill.

The Washington legislation does not refer to the NSA by name. Rather, it issues the restrictions against "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 or seized."

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