It's at every other level that their imagination fails:
They can't imagine why people don't want to be spied on. They have nothing to hide, after all. Actually, they have plenty to hide, but until recently they couldn't imagine getting caught.
They can't imagine that there is anything Bush could do that would be illegal. They believe that Bush has full-on "war powers" based on the authorization of force against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pretty much "war powers" means whatever they think they need to do to keep us safe. I suspect that if it turned out that Bush has been personally overseeing summary executions of American citizens, many of his backers would say that it was authorized by Congress as well, and they would feel a lot safer from the terrorists.
They can't imagine that all this power for Bush might be a bad thing. But, as Laura Rozen writes:
It's not much of a stretch to imagine there are plenty of files opened on people of all sorts of political stripes. I imagine, it's not just the anti-war groups monitored by the Pentagon who have reason to wonder, if they're being monitored by the full technological apparatus of the US foreign intelligence system. It's a very blunt instrument, and there's a "and then they came for me" aspect to all of this, that conservatives shouldn't be so quick to dismiss.
In fact, what starts out as one thing might very quickly have become something else. There's no evidence of any court cases that have resulted from Bush's illegal unauthorized warrantless NSA spying on Americans. As I wrote earlier, presumably even the Bush administration hasn't figured out a way to use secretly, illegally obtained evidence against the accused in a court of law. Cases where it's tried to declare the accused has some extra legal judicial status have virtually all collapsed. No successful terrorism prosecutions, no al Qaeda cells wrapped up domestically. So what has it been used for?
They can't imagine that there's anything wrong with casting such a wide net. But after a university student is visited by DHS for requesting a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's "The Little Red Book," the student's professor says:
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.
Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk.
"I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
They can't imagine that they will ever leave power. That's the only explanation, because otherwise they would be shit scared of what a ruthless, LBJ-esque Democrat will do with those files once she is elected.
"Yes, is this [redacted] at the New York Times? We understand that you are preparing to write a negative piece about our plan for national heath care. How do we know? Oh, you know, we have our ways. Yeah. Well, the thing is, we'd really appreciate it if you didn't write that piece.. We'd show our appreciation by not telling your editor about what you've been downloading on company equipment. And really, we don't think your wife needs to know about who you've been talking to every Thursday, now does she? I'm so glad we appreciate each other."