Majority of Americans support NSA phone tracking

National Security Agency SquareBy Jessica Huseman
@JessicaHuseman

Despite the “scandal” title, a Pew poll out Monday indicates the majority of Americans — 56 percent — view the National Security Agency’s recently uncovered program that tracks millions of Americans’ phone records as an “acceptable anti-terror tactic.” Only 41 percent described the program as “unacceptable.”

While loud opponents are hooting and hollering, it turns out that Andrew Snowden’s leak to The Guardian last week has changed few minds on the trade off between privacy and security. The poll indicates that 62 percent of Americans believe it is more important for the government to investigate terror threats than avoid intrusions on privacy, compared to 68 percent of Americans who said the same in 2010, and 65 percent in 2006.

While responders evidently acknowledge there are differences between the Bush Administration’s and the Obama Administration’s approach to surveillance, the reactions for both administrations are similar. The current poll indicates that 56 percent of Americans find it acceptable that the NSA “has been getting secret court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism.” In January 2006, a few weeks after the Bush administration’s program was reported, 51 percent said they believed it was acceptable for the NSA to investigate “people suspected of involvement with terrorism by secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails between some people in the United States and other countries, without first getting court approval to do so.”

The obvious difference is that the current poll indicates approval for listening into the phone calls of millions of Americans regardless of whether they are suspected of wrongdoing, while the 2006 poll stipulates that the investigation would only focus on “people suspected of involvement with terrorism.” Given the broader surveillance mentioned in the recent question, it is interesting that it has an even higher approval rating.

For Republicans specifically, however, the approval for these measures has done a massive 180. Today, only 52 percent of Republicans say it acceptable for the NSA to obtain phone records, while in 75 percent of Republicans approved of similar measures in January 2006. In a similar switch, Democrats now view the NSA’s phone surveillance as acceptable by 64 percent to 34 percent. In 2006, only 36 percent approved of phone call scrutiny of suspected terrorists.

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Posted by on June 11, 2013. Filed under Military,National Politics,Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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