Friday, February 24, 2006

Polling domestic spying

The ACLU (remember, it's conservative!) did a poll that amplifies a point I've been making.

Asked whether or not they agreed that "the President should not be acting on his own in deciding how to fight terrorism without the checks and balances of the courts or Congress," a whopping 60% said that he should not be acting without the Courts or Congress.

Sixty-three percent said that the President should get a warrant to spy on Americans.

A mere 43% believe the President when he says he operated within the law.

Doesn't that number scream for hearings? A majority of Americans think the President lied about operating within the law and the Constitution. I tend to agree. But if you disagree, shouldn't Congress make some effort at changing my mind?

Furthermore, 61% think that it's wrong "for the President to assume that the Congressional resolution to go to war in Afghanistan to fight terrorism also gave him permission to eavesdrop on Americans without a court warrant." Given that this is generally seen as the more interesting justification, I imagine supporters of the program would like to see Congress weigh in on that point. Prove me wrong!

Fifty-four percent disapprove of the government eavesdropping on Americans' calls overseas without getting a warrant. But if you ask whether they support such wiretapping if it could lead to catching terrorists, 57% approve.

That means that there's a huge chunk of people ready to be convinced, given compelling evidence. Either this is just scooping up Americans at random, or it's highly targeted. The President says one thing, the FBI says none of the leads have gone anywhere, who should we believe? Congressional hearings would sort that out double quick.

And given that 55% of the public want Congress to shut down the spying, Congress needs to act.

In entirely unrelated news, Rasmussen reports that more people trust Democrats in Congress on national security than trust President Bush. This poll was entirely post-port kerfuffle. The lies and evasions about that deal are poisoning his only electoral strength as the next elections loom. In Pew's routine tracking poll, the only issues where Republicans outscore Democrats are security related, and recent events are tearing that apart.

The Rasmussen poll again shows that even though 72% of people claim they're following the ports scandal, 46% don't know who currently owns the port (a British company), and 15% think it's a domestic company. Congress should be educating the public, not just letting the White House force things on us.

Write a letter.