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By SARA BERGQUIST sbe007@latech



President George W. Bush announced in January that he has the necessary duty to ensure the safety of Americans.

Tech professors and others are suggesting that Congress will not think his surveillance intentions are justified.

“The basic issue for the wiretapping story is whether or not President Bush can eavesdrop on American citizens who have some perhaps tentative connection to suspected terrorists without getting a court order,” Jason Pigg, an assistant professor of social sciences, said.

“So right now he clearly has power to eavesdrop on foreigners who are in other countries.”

Pigg said wiretapping does not just involve American citizens talking in the United States to other American citizens.

“If [Americans] have some connection to these other people who have been identified as possible terrorists, then in theory, the president claims he should be able to eavesdrop,” Pigg said.

Pigg said the main issue is Bush has not gotten a court order to eavesdrop.

“There’s a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which Congress passed in 1978,” Pigg said.

“The normal procedure [according to the act] is if the National Security Agency [or the government] wants to eavesdrop on American citizens, then they go to the FISA court; they get a warrant to do that.”

Pigg said 19,000 warrants have been approved since 1978, and only five of those have been denied.

Pigg also said the reason for organizing FISA was because previous presidents had spied on American citizens without getting a court warrant.

Amelia Hancock, a junior art major, said she feels problems arise when authority does not hold to clear boundaries on what they are capable of doing.

“Though the president had authorization to use military force after 9-11, wiretapping without court approval is in breach of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” Hancock said.

“I feel if this great of a percentage of the American people feel deceived, the president’s administration is lacking in either clearly stating their intentions and policies or executing them.”

Anthony Gregory, a junior political science major, said he believes Bush is using a constitutional statute out of context.

“[The constitutional statute] says he can do all to protect the USA from an eminent threat, but he forgets that we are afforded the right to due process,” Gregory said. “I have no choice but to believe we are being lied to, and the president is invading my privacy with no regards to the Constitution or his oath to uphold it.”

Pigg said he predicts the courts will overturn the president’s decision because Bush does not have inherent authority.

“Everybody thinks if the president had gone to Congress and asked them to give him this power that they would have set up something that would have allowed him to do this,” Pigg said.

Pigg said Congress might expand Bush’s power for domestic surveillance down the road because terrorism seems to override a lot of other concerns.

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