Americans Support NSA Telephone Record Program
Nearly two-thirds of Americans support the NSA’s collecting and searching telephone call records in order to look for terrorists, according to a new WaPo-ABC News survey
A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it. A slightly larger majority–66 percent–said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.
Underlying those views is the belief that the need to investigate terrorism outweighs privacy concerns. According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats “even if it intrudes on privacy.” Three in 10–31 percent–said it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats. Half–51 percent–approved of the way President Bush was handling privacy matter.
The results aren’t surprising, considering that a similar number supported the more intrusive electronic eavesdropping program when it was announced. The public is widely supportive of programs to catch terrorists.
Indeed, Mark Blumenthal thinks this story might be quite helpful to President Bush, figuring he “can only stand to gain if the public’s attention shifts from his handling of gas prices, the economy, immigration and Iraq to his administration’s efforts to ‘investigate terrorism.'” That’s for sure.