Wash. Post's Will claimed public doesn't care about wiretapping, but polls suggest otherwise

››› ››› SAM GILL

On ABC's This Week, Washington Post columnist George F. Will called President Bush's controversial warrantless domestic spying program "a winner politically" because "[t]here's no question the country says, 'You're listening in? We don't care.' " However, polling shows that, depending on the wording of the poll question, a strong minority of the public or even a majority opposes the program.

On the February 12 edition of ABC's This Week, Washington Post columnist George F. Will called President Bush's controversial warrantless domestic spying program "a winner politically" because "[t]here's no question the country says, 'You're listening in? We don't care.'" However, polling shows that, depending on the wording of the poll question, a strong minority of the public or even a majority opposes the program.

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken February 7-8 with a margin of error of +/-3 percent found that 54 percent think the president should "have the power" to "monitor electronic communications of suspected terrorists" without a warrant even if one end of the call is in the United States, while only 40 percent say the president should not have that power. But when the polls don't ask about presidential powers and instead focus on this specific program, the results are mixed. A February 6-8 Associated Press/Ipsos poll with a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent found that a 50-percent majority think the president should "be required to get a warrant from a judge before monitoring phone and Internet communications between American citizens in the United States and suspected terrorists." Similarly, a January 26-29 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll with a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent shows that while 51 percent approve of the administration's "approach" to wiretaps, 53 percent said that the administration should nonetheless be required to obtain a court order to conduct such electronic surveillance.

From the February 12 edition of ABC's This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): OK, but then let me ask just one more question on this since you raised it. If you -- if you are right about the substance of this -- and clearly, now that we've been talking about the program for two months, if the terrorists didn't know beforehand, they certainly know now that they're gonna be monitored -- do you believe the administration will just hold the line all year long, even against these other Republicans, in order to have the issue?

WILL: Yes, for two reasons. Obduracy is their political philosophy. They simply are not going to give an inch on anything. It may be a weak person's idea of strength, but it's their idea. Second, it's a winner politically.

DAVID GERGEN (former presidential adviser): Exactly.

WILL: There's no question the country says, "You're listening in? We don't care."

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Domestic Spying, National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
George F. Will
Show/Publication
This Week
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