Personal Freedom

Governor Supports Keeping NSA in Utah

Legislation introduced last year by Representative Marc Roberts sought to prevent material assistance in the state of Utah to the National Security Agency (NSA) for its warrantless surveillance of innocent individuals. Last year’s bill received discussion during an interim session this past fall, and may be re-introduced in the 2015 general session.

Asked about this effort today, Governor Gary Herbert told reporters, “I know people have had some frustration with the NSA,” but that the state’s agreement with the NSA was “something I think we need to continue to honor.”

The Utah Data Center has been the subject of widespread reporting. In our exclusive interview with Bill Binney, a 30-year NSA employee turned whistleblower, he indicated that the storage facility was created to retain every bit of digital information about people possible “in the hopes of retroactively going back and analyzing it sometime in the future to figure out what’s important.”

When the facility was announced, the Governor was reassured that the agency’s work would be done while “observing strict guidelines to preserve civil liberties” and told the public that he had been reassured only “appropriate activity will be conducted, according to constitutional law.”

We now know that this reassurance was a complete fabrication, and that the facility in Bluffdale—being subsidized by Utahns—is the repository for sensitive, private information about innocent people not suspected of any crime. We therefore question any need to abide by any agreement that has been violated by the other party.

We encourage Utah legislators to support efforts to protect our rights, and refuse any material support to federal agencies which are involved, as Rep. Roberts’s legislation states, “in the routine surveillance or involuntary collection and storage of electronic data or metadata on any citizen of the United States.”