THE BLOG
12/28/2005 05:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Popping the Wrong Question

We may be hearing more about a Rasmussen poll showing that "[s]ixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States." Prominent warblogger Instapundit as well as the first of what undoubtedly will be several minor wing-nut sites are already trumpeting this as showing that the public supports what Bush has done and the Democrats are barking up the wrong tree.

Notice anything missing from the question? How about the part that the wiretapping is done without a warrant, although there is a court set up to consider the evidence and issue just such warrants. There is no doubt that the FISA Court would issue a warrant to listen to calls between "terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States." All the government needs is some articulable basis for the suspicion. Apparently that is what it did not have.

If the polling question asked was "do you think that the government should be able to listen secretly to any international phone calls to the United States that it wants to on the approval of a shift supervisor at the National Security Agency without a warrant or any court or legislative supervision whatsoever," the numbers would be very different.

Note the Kaus referred to by Instapundit is my brother, not me, but I am not sure what he was right about.

Update There undoubtedly is something to the point that people are happy to hear that Bush is doing anything, even somethibng illegal, to actually fight terrorism. Given the massive ineptitude of the Katrina effort, the documented disaster that is the Department of Homeland Security and the lack of any discernable security benefit from the war in Iraq, even an illegal effort could be seen as at least a sign of life.