Saturday, May 13, 2006

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday the Washington Post said that 63% of Americans support the NSA phone data sweep.

A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

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.

Today, Newsweek says:

Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

In order to make a fair comparison, let’s look at the questions they asked in the polls. Here’s the Washington Post/ABC:

It’s been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Acceptable NET — 63
Unacceptable NET — 35

Here’s what Newsweek asked:

As you may know, there are reports that the NSA, a government intelligence agency, has been collecting the phone call records of Americans. The agency doesn’t actually listen to the calls but logs in nearly every phone number to create a database of calls made within the United States. Which of the following comes CLOSER to your own view of this domestic surveillance program:

41 — It is a necessary tool to combat terrorism
53 — It goes too far in invading people’s privacy
6 — Don’t know

I’m not a polling expert, but those questions sound pretty similar to me. The Post/ABC polled 502 randomly selected adults nationwide. Newsweek polled 1,007.

Hmm. So further along this goes and the more people they ask, the more people are against it. At some point, they’re going to ask everybody, and I don’t think the administration and their sycophantic toadies on the right are going to like the answer.