This is the speech I delivered at the NSA/Prism Protest at the Capitol on June 12th:
Last November, I was invited to tour the NSA Bluffdale Data Center. When you have a billion dollars to build anything, it will end up being impressive. What struck me during the tour is what our guide explained as the reasons for Utah being selected as the build site. He said first, our power is inexpensive, amongst the lowest priced in the nation. Second, he said that Utah’s residents were patriotic.
Now patriotism is open to interpretation. To me, patriotism means I love my country and I wish for it to continue. I seek to protect it from harm, coming from the outside or the inside. When the NSA executes broad surveillance on American citizens, they are harming my idea of this country. The idea that the NSA, the CIA, law-enforcement, or any government entity should have unfettered access to our private communications may have not occurred to the framers of the constitution over 200 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we as Americans need to accept it today. In a democracy, we define what our country is and we decide when the government has overreached. Today I stand with you and answer the question of warrantless government surveillance with a “No” and a “Hell no.”
Today we stand in front of our state capitol and express our objection to the NSA. NSA whistle blowers have been coming forward for the past decade warning us about their surveillance powers, and it is refreshing to see national attention on this. Yet the NSA is not the only government entity seeking to invade your privacy. This very body behind us approved a law that enables law enforcement to subpoena customer information from Internet Service Providers without a warrant. I fought that law, and after it was enacted, I received these unconstitutional subpoenas. In every case, I turned them back and asked them for a warrant. In every case, I never received a follow-up warrant. In every case, they did not challenge my refusal. In the past 20 years of running an Internet Service Provider, I have received many requests for subscriber information, but the number of proper warrants I have received can be counted on one hand.
Whether or not Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Microsoft allowed the NSA open access to their networks has yet to be determined. However, I’m here to tell you that the NSA data-center will be a pile of useless if companies simply start saying, “No.” The NSA simply cannot intercept Internet communications without access to do so. When companies grant network access to the government without a warrant, they are making a financial decision. They have decided it is cheaper to comply than it is to fight. You need to turn around that financial decision. You need to ask these companies what their policies are, and if they don’t answer or they give you an answer you don’t like, leave them for a company that cares.
How is it that our congressional representation signed off on a billion dollar facility in Utah with very little idea as to what it does? With crumbling infrastructure, underfunded schools, and a scientific establishment that is falling behind the rest of the world, why are we spending billions on a surveillance state without questions? Questions like, “Why do we have a kangaroo court approving secret requests for broad surveillance?” Questions like, “Why is law-enforcement violating the 1st amendment with gag orders on innocent citizens?” Questions like, “Why is there outrage from some elected officials over NSA spying, yet no oversight by elected officials of NSA spying?”
The proponents of NSA monitoring say that this is necessary to keep us safe. In spite of them not being able to catch the imbecile Boston bombers before their heinous act, we are lead to believe that without the NSA activities, the U.S. would be entirely at the mercy of terrorists. To Peter King, John Boehner, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, and any other elected official who believes this, I have a simple solution. Allow us to install monitoring of you and your family’s communications and make them public. Then we can insure that we don’t have any terrorist moles infiltrating our government. If you believe that NSA monitoring is good for 300 million Americans, then demonstrate it by allowing 300 million Americans to monitor you. If they won’t allow it, then maybe we’re on to something.