NSA Data Center provides big backdrop to little protest
Bluffdale • Only a handful of Utahns showed up Saturday to protest government snooping into telephone calls and emails, but they probably had the biggest, most relevant backdrop among those who came out in different parts of the country.
The five Utahns who showed up for the local version of protests did so on the side of the highway next to the concrete buildings that make up the huge new data center operated by the National Security Agency in Bluffdale.
It's one of a number of data centers operated by the intelligence agency, recently the target of leaks of information by former contractor Edward Snowden that sparked outrage around the world for the scope of the NSA gathering of information from phone calls and emails.
The local group Restore the Fourth-Utah planned the rally here in conjunction with its new duties of cleaning litter from a two-mile stretch of Camp Williams Road (Redwood Road) on the border between Salt Lake and Utah counties and beside the military base Camp Williams that plays host to the NSA facility. The "Fourth" refers to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure.
So with bright orange safety vests and bright orange garbage bags, the five walked alongside the busy highway and picked up trash as they held signs critical of NSA snooping.
Make that six people. Amy and Shan Morris of Saratoga Springs brought along 10-month-old Skyler who rode in a baby pack as his mother and father made their way along the roadside. Amy Morris's sign read "NSA Stop the War on the People," while Shan Morris' sign was titled "Enemies of the U.S. Constitution" and sported photos of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former President George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney.
"We feel our country has become a nation of corporations and big governments, and also it's become a police state," said Shan Morris.
The rally/cleanup was organized by Lorina Potter of Cottonwood Heights, who said she and others were standing up for the U.S. Constitution. Her family's history in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints influenced her views about NSA's spying, said Potter.
"The church has a long history of fighters," she said. "We fought to be here. We fought to be alive."
Dan Garfield of Saratoga Springs, who at one point waved at what appeared to be a Data Center security vehicle, said there are a variety of political views gathered in Restore the Fourth, though most of the participants on Saturday said they leaned toward libertarianism.
"Inside Restore the Fourth we have all these different political persuasions," he said. "But we can just say, 'Let's talk about the Fourth Amendment.'"
At another point along the road, Garfield stopped and told his companion to bring over the trash bag. Garfield picked up a dead fish and stuck in the bag.