Shifting US perceptions on counter-terrorism policies and the NSA's surveillance programmes?

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A recent poll by the Quinnipiac University suggests a shift in US’ voters perception on the US’ counter-terrorism policies.

“In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010 when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country. There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 – 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 – 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 – 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far”.

The survey also asked whether respondents supported the recently disclosed Mainway ‘caller records’ database, that stores metadata of all telephone conversations in the U.S. While the question was slightly leading (“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), a small majority (51%) supported the programme. Democrats (58%) overall supported the programme more than Republicans (49%). A small majority (54%) found the programme to be “necessary to keep Americans safe” as well. Among democrats this number rose to 64%. At the same time, the same small majority (53%) thought that this programme could be seen as “too much intrusion” into Americans’ personal privacy. Democrats were significantly less likely to find this an intrusion (40%) than Republicans (56%)

The Quinnipiac University surveyed more than 2000 registered voters in the United States between the 28th of June and the 8th of July 2013.

The answers to the last poll-question are in line with an earlier poll of the PEW research centre in June, where 56% of the surveyed Americans agreed that it was acceptable that the NSA “got secret court orders to track calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism”. The PEW numbers revealed a clear partisan shift in attitudes towards the NSA’s surveillance programmes. While 75% of Republicans found these programmes to be ‘acceptable’ in January 2006, only 52% did in June 2013. Democrats on the other hand did not find these programmes acceptable in 2006 (61%), while only 34% did not find these programmes acceptable in June 2013.

Categories: EUI