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Americans Shift Their View Against U.S. Surveillance Programs Americans Shift Their View Against U.S. Surveillance Programs

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Defense

Americans Shift Their View Against U.S. Surveillance Programs

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance leaks, American attitudes towards U.S. counterterrorism efforts have drastically shifted.

You didn't need a poll to confirm this, but a new Quinnipiac poll still shows a staggering swing in the aftermath of the leaks that outlined the widespread reach of U.S. surveillance programs.

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said these efforts go too far and restrict civil liberties, while 40 percent think more should be done. When the same question was asked to voters in a Jan. 10, 2010, poll, 63 percent of those surveyed thought that surveillance programs didn't go far enough.

 

It seems that the more that Americans realize the level in which the federal government is spying, with an increased number of stories and relevations, the more concerned they feel about those programs.

There is a bit of a difference between male and female voters when asked this question, however. While 54 percent of men think the U.S. has gone too far, just 36 percent of women think the so. On the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans seem evenly divided on the issue, while independent voters think the U.S. has gone too far by a 49 percent to 36 percent margin.

The biggest shift happened with men and with Republicans, two groups of people who generally support antiterrorism efforts over other groups. Here are more details:

So, What Do We Call Him?

Yes, Snowden seems to have shifted the debate. But what do we call him: a traitor or a whistleblower?

A majority of Americans think that he is a whistleblower and not a traitor, by a 54 percent to 34 percent margin. And this sentiment seems to be universal among all gender, political, income, age and education groups. Black voters are the only exception, as 43 percent call Snowden a traitor and 42 percent call him a whistleblower.

Officials in the intelligence community and federal government are so far largely leaning away from the "whistleblower" label. After all, they did cancel his passport and are asking countries to extradite him so that he can be prosecuted in the U.S. Here are further details:

Do Americans Support the Programs, Though?

Here were some of the other questions Quinnipiac asked:

Do you support or oppose the federal government program in which all phone calls are scanned to see if any calls are going to a phone number linked to terrorism? Support 51 percent, Oppose 45 percent

 

Do you think this program is necessary to keep Americans safe or not? Yes 54 percent, No 40 percent

 

Do you think this program is too much intrusion into Americans' personal privacy or not? Yes 53 percent, No 44 percent

Just days after Snowden revealed that he had leaked classified information about the U.S. government's surveillance programs, several polls showed mixed reactions from Americans about Snowden's actions. In the immediate aftermath, just 27 percent of Americans were even paying close attention to the NSA leaks. With that in mind, it's hard to say for sure just how much Snowden's leaks actually directly resulted in the shift in public opinion. Public reaction seems to have leveled off in the last few weeks.

This recent Quinnipiac poll was conducted between June 28 and July 8 among 2,014 registered voters, and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

 

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