Georgetown Students Protest Illegal Wiretaps Without Warrant

From the New York Times:
With polls showing the public evenly split about the eavesdropping program, Mr. Gonzales - like Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney before him - told students at the Georgetown law center that he welcomed a "worthy debate" over the limits of presidential power.

More than two dozen students in the audience responded by turning their backs on him and standing stone-faced before live television cameras for the duration of Mr. Gonzales' half-hour speech. Five protesters donned black hoods and unfurled a banner, quoting Benjamin Franklin, that read: "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

But critics of the N.S.A. program, who accused Mr. Bush of violating the Constitution and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by authorizing wiretaps without warrants on international communications linked to Al Qaeda suspects, said they were unimpressed by the administration's public push.

David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who took part in a panel discussion by both liberal critics and conservative supporters after Mr. Gonzales' speech, said that the program was "clearly" illegal in his view, and he attacked what he saw as a "blatantly political" attempt by the White House to establish a legal footing for the program.

Administration officials "can say over and over and over again that it's lawful - as if the American people will believe it if you say it often enough," Mr. Cole said.

The question of the N.S.A. operation's legality will probably be settled not in the court of public opinion but in a court of law.