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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Griper Blade: Continuing the Surveillance State

Sea of cell phones

A Pew poll out yesterday has some calling Democratic voters hypocrites on the subject of the surveillance state. In 2006, only 37% answered that NSA surveillance was "acceptable." Today, that number is 64%. The accusation is that Democrats were against it under Bush, but are now for it under Obama. And there's a measure of truth to the charge. When broken down as Democrat, Republican, and Independent, dem voters are the most accepting of NSA snooping under President Obama, by more than ten points. But Democrats can be excused for some of those numbers by the wording of the questions.

In 2006, respondents were asked, "The NSA has been investigating people suspected of terrorism by secretly listening in on phone calls and reading emails without court approval..." The 2013 question is, "NSA has been getting secret court orders to track calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism..." The first asks if you approve of something that is a crime, while the second asks your opinion of something that's not a crime. Independents follow Democrats on this -- though not in the same numbers -- with 55% rejecting illegal wiretaps and 53% accepting the NSA's collection of metadata, where (we're assured) no one listened to the content of the calls. These are, in fact, two very different questions; it should come as no surprise that people gave two very different answers.

Unfortunately, that defense falls apart on another question: "Should the gov't be able to monitor emails if it might prevent future terrorist attacks?" In 2002, 51% of Democrats said no. Today, 53% say yes. Republicans also flip on support, so they're not getting off the hook. But the bright spot in this one is Independents. In 2002, indies were closely divided on email interception -- 45% pro, 49% anti. Today, they are overwhelmingly opposed -- 38% pro, 60% anti...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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