What can a government do when another government engages in acts it considers illegal and all of the usual actions fail to effect change?

How about turn off the water?

That is one of the approaches the OffNow coalition took to stop NSA spying. The plan: get state and local governments to deny the agency resources. In Bluffdale, Utah, that would mean shutting off the city-supplied water to the NSA data collection facility.

Apparently, the feds consider it a pretty good idea.

Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it would not allow the use of any federally controlled water on marijuana crops.

“As a federal agency, Reclamation is obligated to adhere to federal law in the conduct of its responsibilities to the American people,” Bureau of Reclamation chief of public affairs Dan DuBray said.

According to a McClatchy newspaper report, the decision could prove particularly troublesome in Washington state, where the feds control the water supply for two-thirds of the irrigated land. Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use by referendum in November 2012. Turning off the water reportedly won’t impact marijuana production in Colorado to the same extent, because that state’s law only allows indoor growing operations.

According to the McClatchy report, “the ruling makes clear that the Obama administration is willing to set limits on the states’ legalization experiments, even though the Justice Department said in August that it would not block their plans to tax and sell the drug.”

So, now we can count the U.S. federal government as the biggest supporter of withholding water to effect political change.

The feds have tried just about everything else to stop the spread of marijuana legalization at the state level.

The federal government prohibits marijuana for any purpose. But that hasn’t stopped states from simply ignoring the so-called “federal law” and moving ahead with their own policy on cannabis. In addition to legalization for recreational use in Colorado and Washington, 21 states have legal medical marijuana programs. In an attempt to crush this movement and impose their will, the feds have tried heavy handed raids, they’ve threatened lawsuits and they’ve targeted owners of property hosting marijuana businesses. All of their efforts have failed. So now they want to turn off the water.

This unorthodox move by the federal government validates the OffNow strategy. When the normal approaches fail, find other means to put on pressure to bring about the desired results.

The OffNow coalition did just that. When we look at the usual approaches to stopping NSA spying, we see nothing but abject failure. Americans have tired federal lawsuits. They’ve tried begging federal politicians. They put their faith in congressional reform only to see it gutted. They’ve pinned their hopes on a different president who would repeal the Patriot Act and AUMF, roots of NSA spying. And yet the agency continues to collect data, listen in on phone calls and tap into your Internet.

Recognizing the futility of the traditional Washington D.C. solutions, members of the OffNow coalition got together to find a different way. As they began researching NSA spying, they found an Achilles Heel in Utah.

Once fully operational, officials estimate the Bluffdale, Utah data collection facility will use some 1.7 million gallons of water per day to cool its super spy computers. The city supplies that water. With the passage of legislation denying material support to the NSA in Utah, the state can turn it off. No water means no computers, and that puts a huge dent in the agency’s drive to spy on pretty much everybody in the world.

We were pretty confident this approach could put a dent in in the spy machine, but we never expected the feds to follow our lead.

But hey, we appreciate the validation.



Mike Maharrey