The National Security Agency surveillance programs have been a topic of controversy with their efforts to track terrorists through phone and Internet surveillance while abusing the civil liberties of Americans.
The justice department seized phone records of Associated Press journalists during two months in 2012, and emails from Fox News journalists. The department said more than 20 of the AP's phone lines were seized to track government leaks of classified information about a foiled terror plot. Dr. Mark McKenzie, assistant professor of political science at Texas Tech University, said protecting our citizens has even hit home locally here in the south plains. "There was a student in Lubbock living on campus that wanted to engage in terrorists activities," McKenzie said. McKenzie said according to the Patriot Act, the government must have probable cause to serve your information and the information must be relevant to terrorist activities. Anthony Hall, a broadcast journalism graduate of Texas Tech, said it is not as bad as it seems, and he trusts the global press will stay on top of this topic. Although Hall is confident in the strength of the press, he said as a journalist this can be detrimental to holding the government accountable. "As journalists, are we suppose to accept that we are never going to get that information?" Hall asked. Assistant Professor at the College of Media and Communication at Tech, Pete Brewton, said he hopes to use this situation as an example for future journalists in his classrooms. "Do whatever you can to protect their identity, because the government is actively looking for these people now," Brewton said.