White HouseWhite HouseLast June, after news reports revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was surreptitiously collecting everyone's telephone records, President Obama called this massive dragnet a "modest encroachment" that "the American people should feel comfortable about." Last Friday he portrayed the program as a significant threat to privacy.

Which is it? Evidently, writes Jacob Sullum, the answer depends on the latest polls, which find that the American people are not as comfortable with the NSA's snooping as Obama said they should be. Sullum says the president's obvious lack of conviction about the threat posed by mass surveillance makes it hard to believe he is serious about addressing it.