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State senator seeks to curb NSA's reach in Arizona

Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

Unwilling to wait for congressional action, a first-term Arizona legislator said today she is attempting to clip the wings of the National Security Agency — at least in this state. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

A proposal by Sen. Kelli Ward follows the disclosures by Edward Snowden that the spy agency is indiscriminately scooping up data. The agency has come under particular scrutiny for keeping track of phone calls — at least the numbers called, if not the actual content — as well as information from e-mails and even social media websites. The administration has defended the NSA actions as both authorized by Congress and necessary to protect security. Ward is not buying it.

“I’m not one that believes that giving up our liberty is going to lead to increased security,” Ward said. “And I just think we need to be free and we need to maintain our liberty. So this is what this is designed to do.”

Her proposal would require state and local governments to refuse to help the spy agency unless it first produced a search warrant signed by a judge.

“Basically, it just prevents Arizona from using any material resources to carry out federal orders or mandates,” Ward said.

The measure would also, however, preclude Arizona police agencies and courts from using any information gathered by the NSA without a warrant. Ward also wants to affirmatively hamper the NSA, even to the point of denying utility services. The NSA declined to comment.

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