Yesterday I was listening to some NPR show on which callers were talking about the NSA surveillance programs whereby agents have access to citizens phone records and internet usage. A female caller complained about the complainers and assured listeners that it wasn't a big deal because it was the federal government, and it was silly to think the government was going to do bad. I was probably not the only listener who remembered how we were expected to think that George W. Bush wanted to obliterate all our civil liberties.Today we have a president who seems to be trying hard to do just that.
Here comes a very telling Pew Poll which reveals that 56% of the pollees say that NSA's telephone record dragnet is an acceptable way to investigate terrorism.
Not surprisingly, Republicans more strongly oppose NSA surveillance programs when there's a Democrat president, and the opposite is also true with Democrats more strongly opposed to the surveillance when there's a Republican president. So there's definitely a partisan component to the way people look at this.
A question that wasn't on the poll but which would be revealing would be whether the respondents believed the president would use the information for political purposes. I don't believe George Bush would have. But Obama? He has certainly given us plenty of reasons to think he would.