Saturday, January 07, 2006

Poll: Most Say U.S. Needs Warrant to Snoop

This is not good for the Bush administration. From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans want the Bush administration to get court approval before eavesdropping on people inside the United States, even if those calls might involve suspected terrorists, an AP-Ipsos poll shows.

Over the past three weeks, President Bush and top aides have defended the electronic monitoring program they secretly launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, as a vital tool to protect the nation from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

Graphic shows the results of a poll on government monitoring communications. (AP Graphic)

Agreeing with the White House, some 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe the court approval is necessary.

"We're at war," Bush said during a New Year's Day visit to San Antonio. "And as commander in chief, I've got to use the resources at my disposal, within the law, to protect the American people. ... It's a vital, necessary program."

President Bush. Reuter's File Photo

According to the poll, age matters in how people view the monitoring. Nearly two-thirds of those between age 18 to 29 believe warrants should be required, while people 65 and older are evenly divided.

Party affiliation is a factor, too. Almost three-fourths of Democrats and one-third of Republicans want to require court warrants.

This is not a good poll for the Bush White House to see. Ever since the New York Times broke the story regarding the secret NSA wiretaps, the Bush White House has been scrambling to defend its use of these wiretaps in the face of both public criticism, and Congressional concerns. There have been plenty of calls from both senators and representatives in Congress for investigating the legality of the wiretaps, and this disclosure is certainly going to be raised in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. And with all the speeches that President Bush has given defending his right to domestically spy on American citizens, and all the talk his White House spin-meisters have given through the Sunday talk shows, and news briefs, the American public is still not convinced of the Bush administration's defense regarding this issue.

I have a feeling it is going to get worst over the course of this election year.

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