The news of the scope of NSA surveillance has caused progressives to forge some interesting, but potentially destructive, partnerships with libertarians. Beware.
The latest campaign is one symbolized by the hashtag #NullifyNSA. That should be the first clue about the roots of the OffNow Coalition and goals. Like FixtheDebt, the OffNow Coalition is the brainchild of libertarians who would also like to lure liberals similarly revulsed by NSA's overreach into initiatives to "turn the lights off" on the NSA.
What does the NSA need if it wants to spy on you? Even before legal permission, there’s the basics: electricity to run its computers and water to feed the servers that stores the reams of data they acquire. Enterprising state legislators in five states have seized upon this almost-too-obvious insight, and used it to draft legislation that would quite literally turn off the NSA’s lights in their states.
Seems simple enough. Don't like the NSA? Use state power to cut off infrastructure services to their data centers. Except it's a dangerous and steep slippery slope:
The bill is rooted in a theory that, in James Madison’s words, would “speedily put an end to the Union itself.” More immediately, it could empower conservative state lawmakers to cut off Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, to frustrate civil rights enforcement or even to prevent federal law enforcement from investigating criminals.
Don't assume that's an overreaction. It's not. The word "Nullify" should be your first clue.
If the power to tax includes the power to destroy, so too does the power to cut off water, power and other essential services to a federal agency such as the NSA. Federal offices could not possibly manage the kind of record keeping and communications necessary to operate in a modern society without access to electricity. Indeed, the OffNow coalition’s website is quite explicit about the fact that they believe that the power to cut off utilities is the power to destroy the NSA’s ability to operate — the NSA’s “massive supercomputers monitoring your personal information are water-cooled. They can’t function without the resources to keep them at operating temperature. That water is scheduled to be provided by the Jordan Valley River Conservancy District, ‘a political subdivision of the state of Utah.’
”This tactic, of using state power to prevent the federal government from operating, should trouble progressives regardless of how they feel about the NSA’s surveillance program. If Utah can cut of water or electricity to the NSA, what’s to prevent Texas from cutting off power to federal agencies that provide health care to poor people, or North Carolina from turning the lights off on federal voting rights attorneys challenging their comprehensive voter suppression law?
Answer. Not a damn thing.
I'm still not sure about who all is behind the OffNow Coalition, but I can tell from a simple Google search that it's closely bonded with the Ron Paul libertarians, who are closely bonded with the Kochs and John Birch Society. That should be enough to send progressives running in the opposite direction but in case it's not, go read the entire ThinkProgress article. It's an important one.