TCU community debates legality of wiretapping

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    Americans and members of the TCU community everywhere have taken sides regarding the legality of the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program.The New York Times reported Dec. 16 that the Bush administration has been wiretapping phone conversations between the United States and abroad without a warrant.

    Austin Uebele, a sophomore psychology major and member of TCU College Republicans, does not agree with the program.

    “While I believe that President Bush should be active in pursuing terrorist groups, I do not feel he should be wiretapping without a warrant,” Uebele said.

    Junior political science major Andrew Von Kerens said he thinks the program is necessary to prevent an attack.

    “We’re not fighting a nation-against-nation war,” Von Kerens said. “It’s a war against a group of people, and they are not predictable.”

    Some professors believe the program is unlawful.

    “Constitutionally, I think [the program] is a stretch,” said Kenneth Stevens, professor and chairman of the history department. “It’s pushing the limits because the Bush administration is spying on their own people.”

    Stevens said the Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

    “The key to making a search reasonable is a warrant, and warrants are easy to get for the president,” Stevens said.

    Stevens said that while there is evidence the administration has been doing surveillance on unimportant conversations, there is a possibility the wiretapping has been beneficial.

    “It’s possible they got evidence that could have prevented an attack,” Stevens said. “But they could have done it in a more legal way.”

    Mary Volcansek, dean of the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said the Bush administration is acting on what is known as the Unitary Executive Theory. The theory is one that advocates the power of the executive branch independently of the Congress and judicial branches.

    “There are very few cases at the Supreme Court level that directly deal with presidential power, and because of that, presidents tend to push the limits,” Volcansek, a professor of political science, said.

    “I would like to see a congressional hearing. It’s the cleanest, most bipartisan way to find truth and wrongdoing.”

    Volcansek and Stevens agree that the Bush administration will lose the case if hearings are conducted.

    Stevens said that even though he does not agree with the program, spying is just a fact of life.

    “National security has always done spy work overseas,” Stevens said. “Spying between countries is just a fact of life. Everybody does it and everybody knows it happens.