As word of the NSA’s data collection in search of terrorists reached American eyes via USAToday and then ears via every boraadcast network, the American people recoiled in horror and…well, wait a minute. They didn’t.
Expect the professional recoilers-in-horror and the Jack Cafferty/Keith OHlbermann axis of talking head nuttters long ago felled by Bush Derangement Syndrome to sound the alarm. Excitable Pat Leahy led the way with some memorable blather:
“Are you telling me tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaeda?” said Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. “These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything.”
Actually, Pat, there are hundreds of millions of Americans who aren’t suspected of anything (well, not including speeding.) But the problem is that there are sleepers in the U.S. who are very difficult to find and who intend us great, great harm.
Like the NSA surveillance of al Qaeda contacting its operatives in the US, this latest to be revealed NSA program will strike the public as, well, common sense.
There’s a reason why Chuck Schumer yesterday refused to criticise Michael Hayden on the grounds of the first NSA program, and why the general won’t be widely opposed on this ground either: Both programs make obvious sense to the American people, and will continue to do so unless and until any actual abuse of innocent Americans is brought to light.
This is the folly of the hand-wringers. They have cried the Orwell’s 1984 wolf too many times toget a rise out of the vast majority of Americans who recall that the enemy would still like to incinerate them and millions of their fellow citizens in their beds or behind their desks. Democrats are willing to be understood as believing this risk is secondary to the need not to have phone numbers collected in search of patterns that detect terrorist activity.
Fine. Let the elections be fought over these two NSA programs. The Most Democrats oppose them. Most Republicans don’t.