Friday, May 12, 2006

Phone-Records Surveillance Is Broadly Acceptable to Public

This is even more troubling than the surveillance:
Americans by nearly a 2-1 ratio call the surveillance of telephone records an acceptable way for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, expressing broad unconcern even if their own calling patterns are scrutinized.
Lending support to the administration's defense of its anti-terrorism intelligence efforts, 63 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say the secret program, disclosed Thursday by USA Today, is justified, while far fewer, 35 percent, call it unjustified.

We are in terrible trouble when Americans don't understand the issues involved here. Bill of Rights' issues rarely poll well - most Americans are ignorant of 1.) the polling process itself (you can get a poll to say whatever you want merely by changing the phrasing of the question, making polls powerful tools for propaganda, and 2.) how Bill of Rights' guarantees in the Constitution translate into our daily lives.

Bush may actually get a bump in the polls because of this poll. But not for long. This is an opportunity, a time when people's attention is focused on that which might have caused them to switch the channel before today.

I would guess that most Americans have no idea about any of the NSA's invasions into our privacy that have become commonplace over the years, and the abuses that have occurred for partisan political gain. We have to keep talking about it and provide specific examples of the dangers we face when our civil rights are denied or given up. That can be difficult to do when these programs are classified and not even Congress can get answers. But not impossible. In this, the courts may be the best means of forcing answers.

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