Making Sense of Public Attitudes Toward NSA Surveillance

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5 Responses

  1. John Armstrong says:

    A particular Disraeli quote is responsible here.

    This may be my own mix of cynicism and East-Coast Ivy Academic Elitism (TM), but if half of those Americans who bother to respond to polls think a hot-button issue like warrantless NSA surveillance is a good idea, that reinforces my intuition that it’s a bad one.

  2. John Armstrong says:

    er, I blame the hour and my work preparing a calculus lecture for my addledness. Substitute “appropriate” for “responsible” above.

    Honestly, I have no idea what could cause such aphasia.

  3. MJ says:

    Here’s my unscientific response. I talked to most of my extended family about this issue this weekend at a family function. My family is decidedly middle-class, non-political (although given that I have had a family member in Iraq for more than a year – not particularly President Bush fans), and as typically down-to-earth and midwestern as you are going to find.

    They all seemed to understand that there was a legal argument about whether or not the President could do this. In other words, none of them thought that it was a slam-dunk that the WH was just breaking the law – that this was probably right on the line.

    They all – to a person – thought that it made sense to do try to intercept terrorist phone calls, and that the government was not up to anything underhanded – they believed this was being done to protect the country.

    About half sympathized with the WH, kind of a “people complained that they weren’t doing enough, now they complain that they’re doing too much” line of comment.

    In the 20 or so family members I talked to about this, the phrase “if you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” or some variation thereof, came up 5 or 6 times. Not one of them was up in arms about this, and the strongest negative reactions about the program were along the lines of “I don’t know, he (the President) might have gone too far.” – followed, invariably by “but I guess you have to do stuff like this…”

    Thus, here’s my conclusions from my un-offcial, unscientific Middle-America polling (of my family):

    Average folks don’t think this is a big deal and expect things like this to be done in the interest of protecting the country from an attack.

    Average folks don’t think the President is trying to spy on them for nefarious reasons.

    Average folks don’t think that this is a big intrusion on thier privacy.

    Average folks seem, grateful is too strong a word – resigned may be too weak a word – accepting, of the President’s actions as being proactive and necessary, or at least arguably so.

    So… I think that while people who already can’t stand the President are going to yell that the sky is falling (See Al Gore yesterday), average folks aren’t likely to see it that way.

  4. Qbi's Weblog says:

    Haben Sie etwas gegen

  5. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

    It should surprise no one that citizens will only agree to regulate things that won