NSA

NSA Doesn't Want to Reveal Water Bills, Cites National Security

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Li-sung / Wikimedia

While Americans are invariably subject to prying eyes, the National Security Agency (NSA) is holding in as many secrets as possible post-Snowden. When asked for information about the NSA Utah data center, authorities replied with documents, but redacted the water bill amount.

According to Wired, the official argument "requires a pretty big leap of logic":

"By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center," wrote the NSA's associate director for policy and records, David Sherman, in an undated letter filed with Bluffdale in response to the Tribune's public records request. "Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining."

The State Records Committee, the state panel tasked with overseeing open records laws, was not convinced. Yesterday, it ruled 5-0 in favor of ordering Bluffdale, the city that supplies the NSA with water, to release the information.

Water consumption is peculiarly significant issue in the state of Utah. "We're just in the habit of accounting for water in this state because we have to. There's just not enough water," Nate Carlisle, the Tribune reporter that filed the initial information request, told Wired. The OffNow campaign has been fighting tooth and nail to turn off the NSA's water. State rep. Marc Roberts introduced a bill in February to discontinue the flow of water to the massive data facility.

As far as plans to tame government snoops go, this is eccentric approach. But the huge data center, estimated to hold exabytes of data, swallows, perhaps, a million gallons of water a day to cool down the surveillance-data-holding computers and equipment.

Coincidentally, the Associated Press released a study on federal handling of open records requests. They found that mismanagement of Freedom of Information Act requests is on an upward swing. The Obama administration cites national security as grounds to reject a request more than under any other administration ever.

Carlisle expects the records to be released within the week. Wired is less confident, "Don't expect the NSA to give up its water numbers without a fight." 

NEXT: PRISM: Don't Worry, We Only Track Your Email Address, Not Keywords

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  1. You ever see a commie drink a glass of water?

    1. I hear they settle their differences over a beer.

      1. +1 beer summit.

    2. Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.

  2. “But the huge data center, estimated to hold exabytes of data, swallows, perhaps, a million gallons of water a day to cool down the surveillance-data-holding computers and equipment.”

    What kind of cooling system would consume that much water and not have obvious enormous cooling tower capacity? And why would you build the thing in freakin’ Utah, on purpose? Orrin, what have you done?

    1. I’m not sure why they can’t have a closed system that consumes near zero per day.

      Oh, wait….govt operation. Maximum inefficiency and least effective systems required.

      1. Oh come on, even our datacenter is closed loop, and we’re as ass backwards as they come on tech implementation.

    2. And why would you build the thing in freakin’ Utah, on purpose?

      Because building it in Crimea would be too overtly Socialist.

      1. Actually, you just need to see which Senator was head of the committee that made the decision.

  3. “Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining.”

    Whomever can deduce any vital particulars of the NSA search methods and technology from the bulk water bill deserves a portion if not the entirety of any contracts the NSA may hold.

    1. It’s only metadata, maaaaan.

    2. There is a bit of truth to the claim, though, because smart people are sometimes able to figure things out by putting together seemingly unrelated bits of minor information – there’s a story that some people have used the number of late-night pizza deliveries to the Pentagon to figure out when something big is going on.

  4. Their arrogance knows no bounds, here’s hoping it’s also their downfall.

    1. Arrogance or paranoia? I hope it’s arrogance, because paranoid people do crazy shit when they feel threatened.

  5. They should just send the FOIA request back marked, “Fuck you, that’s why”.

    1. I think they kind of did.

  6. “By computing the water usage rate, one could ultimately determine the computing power and capabilities of the Utah Data Center,” wrote the NSA’s associate director for policy and records, David Sherman, in an undated letter filed with Bluffdale in response to the Tribune’s public records request. “Armed with this information, one could then deduce how much intelligence NSA is collecting and maintaining.”

    Whoa whoa… whoa… fucking whoa…whoa…whoa… the fuck whoa. Stop right the fuck there.

    So… the NSA is saying that a lot of incriminating stuff can be determined by META data?

    1. Yeah, it’s almost as if we are dealing with compulsively lying half-wits that keep giving themselves away and lying themselves into a corner.

      Almost.

      1. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

    2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH

  7. Third party doctrine, bitchz! The NSA “voluntarily” disclosed the amount of water NSA uses to the city, and therefore has no legitimate expectation of privacy. What comes around goes around.

  8. “That was bad INTELLIGENCE! BAD INTELLIGENCE!”

    1. “Very bad Intelligence!”

  9. The Obama administration cites national security as grounds to reject a request more than under any other administration ever.

    MOST. TRANSPARENT. ADMINISTRATION. EVAR!!!!!11!!!!1!

    1. Dang. Just as I was about to post.

  10. I don’t blame them.
    accountant in las vegas

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