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January 10, 2006

ABCNews Poll: 51% Support Warrantless (Wait, No, I Was Right The First Time) Warrantless Intercepts By NSA

Yep, they used the word.

Three in 10 Americans believe the federal government has made unjustified intrusions into personal privacy as it investigates terrorism, which is nearly double the level of concern shown a few years ago, albeit still far from a majority.

More broadly, the public still grants investigating terrorism a higher priority than guarding privacy rights, but by somewhat less of a margin than in the past. And Americans divide about evenly on the specific issue of warrantless wiretaps by the National Security Agency: Fifty-one percent call them acceptable in investigating terrorism, 47 percent unacceptable — views marked by huge partisan and ideological gaps.

Separately, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds George W. Bush's overall job rating unchanged after a gain following the Iraqi elections last month. Forty-six percent of Americans approve of his work in office, while 52 percent disapprove. That's almost identical to its mid-December level, but better than his low (39 percent approval) this fall.

I had to agree with the critics of the Rasmussen poll: yes, throwing that scare word into the question would have reduced the number of respondants in favor-- but not, I thought, by all that much, as everyone understood what the question was asking about. (And, of course, that raises the question of whether or not the scare word should be offset by a caveat like "when the President determines national security depends on a warrantless intercept.")

Putting the word in did reduce support. But not below majority level.

One more point: Democrats are just crazy to push on this issue. For one thing, it convinces the public, which already doesn't need much convincing, that the Democrats are simply soft on national security, and are willing to put a host of other concerns (union proectections for national-security employees, Fourth Amendment protections for terrorists' pen-pals who happen to reside in America) above that as a top priority.

In addition, while many Americans may have reservations about this -- I do, myself, as do many readers here, and many conservatives generally -- we are not "outraged" by steps of dubious propriety taken with the intent of saving our frigging lives. Bothered? Maybe. Concerned? Sure. Saddened that we have to engage in this sort of activity? Perhaps.

But outraged? Calling for impeachment? Definitely not.

Conservatives are right to generally be fearful of expanded government power, but, you know, once in while there comes along an even greater fear. Like fundamentalist lunatics detonating an atomic bomb in downtown New York. It's not that the government still shouldn't be feared. It's that something else has overtaken it, by a comfortable margin, as a threat to our lives and freedom.

I think the liberals have this idea that Bush will use this program to spy wholesale on domestic political opponents... and the more unhinged on-line legions of "dissidents" and "political prisoners of Bush's Amerikkka" actually think Bush cares enough about them to spy on them personally, just because they wrote "Chancellor Chimpy McHilterburton" on the Daily Kos. There is always that possibility, and this becomes more of a fear when you simply don't trust the guy making the call.

But forgive me for thinking this fear is a rather -- what's the right word? -- fictitious threat. Bush may be "intellectually incurious," but surely he's heard about what happened to Nixon when Nixon began doing such things.

Via the "Six Days, Bitch" newswire.

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posted by Ace at 06:22 PM

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