In the wake of the discovery of an unauthorized wiretap on the Harvard Law School office telephone of Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe '62 last week, Harvard officials said they conducted a follow-up investigation of several other professors' phones.
Although the second investigation failed to turn up wiretaps, the University has placed padlocks on all telephone closets, many of which were unlocked before this incident, said Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54.
"If there were any interception, it's both a serious violation of Professor Tribe's privacy and a serious intrusion into the academic community," Steiner said.
Both of Tribe's secretaries heard strange noises over his phone two weeks ago, which sounded as though someone were picking up the extension phone. But the secretaries heard the noises on a weekend, when no one was in the office with the extension.
Tribe, who testified for three hours against Judge Robert H. Bork in the Senate confirmation hearings, last week told The Boston Globe that he hired a surveillance expert on Monday, November 2--two days after his secretaries heard the sounds--on the advice of his attorney.
Although the expert found a wire leading from Tribe's third-floor office in Griswold Hall to a computer terminal on the second floor, Steiner said it was not "100 percent certain that there was in fact any interception."
The investigator did not find any listening device attached to the wire, but he told The Globe that the transmitter could have been removed in the two days after the secretaries became suspicious and before the investigation began. The expert, whose name was not given in the article, estimated the tap was on the phonefrom two to eight months.
Steiner said that Harvard officials informedthe FBI and the Massachusetts Attorney General'soffice about the wiretap. The FBI is conducting aninvestigation, Steiner said.
Both Tribe and Steiner refused to speculate onwho tapped the phone.
But Tribe told The Globe the only time he had acontroversial conversation on that phone was theday before President Reagan nominated JudgeDouglas H. Ginsburg to the Supreme Court onOctober 29.
Tribe said in two conversations that Ginsburgwas an inexperienced candidate and that the formerLaw School professor could face obstacles in theconfirmation process. Tribe told The Globe thatthe day after this personal phone call, acolleague called him to tell him there was a rumorin Washington that he was against the nominee.
Tribe also represented Pennzoil in its $10billion case against Texaco, arguing part of thecase in front of the Supreme Court, which decidedin favor of Pennzoil in April. Other parts of thecase continued to be negotiated through the summerand fall.
Steiner said that to his knowledge, no otherphones in the University have ever been tapped. Hesaid that the incident would "probably make somepeople somewhat more nervous for awhile, but it'sa very unusaul occurance.