Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Domestic Spying Update

WaPo has a poll on it. Some of the results:

The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.

This almost caused me to post about how far the mighty have fallen. No longer do we cry "liberty or death!", but now we whine "save us oh King, please keep us safe, we'll give you anything, just comfort us please." But, if you check out the entire poll, you can see a definite trend away from that type of thinking. Four years ago 65% of folks thought the government was doing enough to protect liberty as it sought to fight terrorism. Now that number is 53%. So maybe people are waking up.

Then again, there was this:

By a 56 percent to 42 percent margin, Americans said it was appropriate for the news media to have disclosed the existence of this secret government program.

Almost half those polled think the media should NOT have released the story?! There are some situations where secrecy may be needed, this is not one of them. What harm is going to come from the story? Maybe some people change phone companies? How will releasing it hinder the real terrorist investigations? Are they all going to stop using the phone now? Maybe we are in trouble.

For a good discussion of why we needed this story, and why the government - be it Republican controlled or Democrat controlled - should not be tracking our phone calls, read this post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Finally, whatever our views may be on the wisdom of the policy, lets not confuse the legal issue with the policy issue. People may support the spying, and the spying may be helpful, but those points are irrelevant to the question of its legality.