Texas Tech Panel to Discuss War on Terror, Government Surveillance and the Constitution for ‘Constitution Day’

The event runs from noon-1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 17) in the Senate Room of the Student Union Building, located at 15th Street and Akron Avenue.

In honor of the week when the Constitution was signed more than 200 years ago, the Texas Tech University Department of Political Science will sponsor a panel of experts to discuss constitutional issues regarding government surveillance and the War on Terror.

The event runs from noon-1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 17) in the Senate Room of the Student Union Building, located at 15th Street and Akron Avenue.

“Government surveillance and its effect on constitutional rights have been in the news all summer, ever since Edward Snowden leaked government documents indicating the scope of surveillance the National Security Agency (NSA) employs on everyday American citizens,” said Mark McKenzie, an associate professor of political science. “There are real questions about whether some of the tactics employed by the NSA and other federal agencies in their efforts on the War of Terror are actually effective and whether those policies violate the Constitutional rights of individuals, irrespective of whether or not they are effective.”

McKenzie said that the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution, as well as previous Supreme Court precedent, put forth the notion that Americans will have a certain level of expectation of privacy from their government. Recent polls show trust in the federal government is at record lows, and the public is divided about whether these NSA programs and other secret federal security programs violate the Constitution.

With McKenzie, panelists include Gregg Murray, associate professor of political science, Steve Meserve, an assistant professor of political science, and graduate student Tyson Meredith, who is writing a dissertation on the causes of terrorism.

Panelists will explain what privacy rights are implicated given some of the government programs designed to fight terrorism, particularly those that monitor technology, the sources and causes of terrorism, where public opinion falls on this subject and how it is important for the public to be engaged in formulating our understanding of how the Constitution governs our relationship with our own government.

Federal law and regulations by the U.S. Department of Education require federally funded schools to provide an educational program about the Constitution each year on Constitution Day. The Constitution was signed Sept. 17, 1787. Former West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who always carried a constitution in his pocket, was largely responsible for getting this law passed in 2005.

CONTACT: Mark McKenzie, associate professor, Department of Political Science, (806) 834-3665 or mark.mckenzie@ttu.edu.