Saturday, May 13, 2006

American flip-flop

Whaddaya mean? We're protecting you. Fiercely.

It was certainly astounding to learn from the hurried and disingenuous WaPo/ABC News poll, that 66% of American thought the NSA call monitoring program was "acceptable." But a Newsweek poll conducted after a day or so of the news sinking in now shows a flip in opinion and 53% say that the program "goes too far in invading people’s privacy" and that 57% disapproved of the Bush/Cheney surveillance measures, in general. While this is somewhat heartening, it is still shameful that disapproval of this latest revealed affront to the American public is not significantly higher. But there are probably a few reasons for this.

One, several media outlets have been studiously engaged in portraying the call monitoring program as disconnected from the NSA warrantless wiretap program, something that is assuredly not true:
Government access to call records is related to the previously disclosed eavesdropping program, sources said, because it helps the NSA choose its targets for listening. The mathematical techniques known as "link analysis" and "pattern analysis," they said, give grounds for suspicion that can result in further investigation.
Two, probably most people at the time of the initial WaPo/ABC News poll hadn't even heard of the program, perhaps mistaking reference to it for the earlier exposed NSA warrantless wiretap program, which has also been similarly portrayed, both by the White House and those many media outlets that simply broadcast White House statements, as "limited" and focused on al Qaeda. These statements, of course, have never addressed the fact that the NSA wiretap program was assuredly not limited to al Qaeda and has been responsible for thousands of "calls to Pizza Hut" the FBI was obliged to make on the advice of the NSA.

Three, and this goes back the Rovian landslide scandal theory*, Americans are now so bludgeoned with news of Bush administration lawlessness, they have simply gone numb with scandal fatigue.

And really, who can keep up with all this shit?

* The landslide scandal theory posits that the public will grow more disenfranchised and apathetic with each new scandal that is exposed. As scandals mount, at an ever increasing rate, a scandal-slide develops, burying concerned citizens is such a mountain of bad news from so many different directions, civic suffocation ensues as even civically-minded Americans fall into a catatonic state and cower in their homes, content to cheer American Idol contestants and deride decisions there as scandalous. Bush/Cheney are then free to conduct any and all police state programs they wish with little or no resistance.


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