THE UNCONCERNED AMERICAN....

THE UNCONCERNED AMERICAN. Most Supreme and Enlightened Overlord Mike wonders if the NSA program's weirdly high poll numbers point to a populace "still very, very scared of another terrorist attack," and willing to do, or sacrifice, just about anything to stop it. I'd go in the opposite direction: This seems to me a populace not terribly worried about the government peeking at their phone logs, and willing to sacrifice whatever abstract privacy rights such a program violates in order to possibly prevent an attack.

It's perfectly plausible that Americans have X level of anxiety over another attack, where X is a low number, but only Y amount of concern over the government knowing they don't call their grandparents enough, where Y is a lower number. And since terrorist attacks are both rare and really bad, you can have a country both relatively unconcerned about their reoccurrence and willing to give up quite a bit to prevent their success. Nevertheless, were Americans accepting high gas prices, or more taxes, or curfews in order to prevent an attack, that would prove their fear. As it is, opening their call logs to the NSA isn't actually an inconvenience in any way, and only chilling in an abstract, look-where-it's-leading sort of way. But make no mistake, it is chilling. And my guess is Americans really just haven't thought this one through. Yet.

--Ezra Klein

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