Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More voices for the Roots Project

Diane Silver, former wire service editor and reporter, writes about Making the grassroots heard:

Kansas is a testing ground for this kind of grassroots activism. I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Not only is one of our senators, Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but Kansas is, after all, THE iconic red state. If we’re upset about this program -- and we most certainly are -- then the opposition to this kind of illegal wiretapping can’t be painted as being out of the mainstream. I applaud Josh and the other bloggers who’ve been promoting this idea, and I join them in asking you to write to your newspaper.
Meanwhile, Tim Burger at GrandNewParty misses the point of SUSA's poll. Is the poll meant as a replacement for the Supreme Court? No. It's meant to assess what the public thinks of the situation, something SUSA is very good at.

Burger's beef shouldn't be with the wording, but with how the results are used. If people cite this as showing that the program is illegal, that's bad. A few thousand people chosen at random aren't the ones to make that decision. In my writing about it, I pointed specifically at what it says about public perception, and what supporters or opponents should take away from it. The public is split, with a big group who aren't sure about the program.

If the program is actually legal, supporters have 2/3 of the country to convince, and whining about poll wording won't change that. If it isn't legal, then there's a crime going on right now and the President admitted to it. That, too, is a problem. And if the legality of the program is actually ambiguous, that's a problem as well. We're a nation of laws and we shouldn't be satisfied with "maybe what the government is doing is legal."

No matter what, this poll says there's work to do.

A discussion of the details of the program is worthwhile too. Criticizing SUSA for not running that poll is silly. I wish SUSA gave me a pony, but I'm not complaining that they ran the particular poll they did.

Our own congressional delegation is split over this. Senator Roberts thinks that if FISA keeps the President from doing whatever he wants, the law is unconstitutional, while Senator Brownback thinks the President broke the law and that he shouldn't do that. Both support the basic outcome of the program, but differ on its legality.

And that's why we all, supporters and opponents alike, need to write letters to our local papers and to our Senators calling for hearings. There needs to be clarity about the warrantless wiretapping, one way or the other.