Poll: Fifty-six percent of Americans say NSA tracking of phone records is OK as anti-terror tactic


Given all the hysteria and hyperbole of recent days, I’m a little surprised at THIS:

More than half of all Americans – 56 percent – say that the National Security Administration’s program tracking the phone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, while 41 percent find it unacceptable, according to a Pew Research Center and Washington Post poll released Monday.

The survey, conducted between June 6-9, found that the recent revelations of the government’s wide collection of personal phone and email records have not shifted public opinion on the tradeoff between national security and protecting citizens’ privacy. Sixty-two percent of respondents say it is more important for the government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Only 34 percent of those polled said it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy.

A January 2006 Washington Post/ABC poll—which was released in the wake of President George W. Bush’s “terrorist surveillance program”—found that 51 percent of Americans believed it was appropriate for the NSA to investigate suspected terrorists 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.”

Pew highlights partisan shifts on the issue between 2006 and 2013, which may be attributed to a change of party in the White House. In 2006, 75 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats thought it was acceptable to monitor phone records in the name of national security. Today, 52 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats find it acceptable.



  1. Robert

    I’d like to see how those questions were phrased and what the response options were? This means nothing Patrick without the actual survey to see how people could respond and how that matches the actual situation.

    I’ve done these polls before they don’t give you any options that really meet your thoughts or feelings on said subject, just something you have to pick that is close but often times not anywhere near your personal beliefs. Again this poll means nothing if we don’t know the actual questions asked and the available choices. Try again.

    This is why I say you’re part of the propaganda machine in this country. You’re way too much of an enabler for this administration.

  2. Robert: You just get wackier and wackier, don’t you?

    Now you’re suggesting that the Pew Research Center, working in conjunction with the Washington Post, is going to risk its reputation as a reliable polling outfit by asking loaded questions of poll respondents so as to get desired results.

    Pollsters who do that kind of thing don’t last long. Loaded questions can ruin a pollster’s reputation overnight and thus reduce its income potential.

    If you’ve got proof that Pew asked loaded questions on this matter, let’s see it.

    From what I can gather, Pew posed the question thusly: “The NSA has been getting secret court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism. Is this acceptable or not acceptable?”

  3. One other thing, Robert: Why can’t you do your own research on how this Pew poll was conducted?

    Why do you jump to baseless conclusions about the legitimacy of the poll and then come up with that silly crap about how I’m “part of the propaganda machine in this country.”

    You’re like a petulant child.

  4. Robert

    I’m “part of the propaganda machine in this country.”

    But ya are Pat, ya are.

    If the left is so willing to give up their right to privacy, the anti-abortion crowd should jump all over it. The whole pretense of the right to an abortion was settled upon the right to privacy. If we don’t have that anymore, then how can abortion still be legal? I hope some right wingers research this and use the left’s own flawed decisions against them.

  5. Robert: If you were able to read, you would understand that even a majority of Republican respondents in the Pew poll find the NSA phone-records surveillance acceptable.

    So much for your crapola about how “the left is so willing to give up their right to privacy.”

    Oh, and some of the sharpest critics of the NSA leaker Edward Snowden are right-wingers, as I noted in a post earlier this afternoon. A Fox News analyst even wants Snowden executed.

    This NSA issue has not produced a clear left-right split in this country — a point I’ve made over and over again in recent days. But you apparently missed it. Instead, you just come up with ill-informed nonsense about “the left’s own flawed decisions.”

    I don’t know where you went to school, Robert, but you should sue the place for educational malpractice.

    Now, I’ve got other things to do tonight. So feel free to blather on without any effort on my part to correct your imbecilities.

  6. Robert

    Here’s what the Pew Research Center asked the respondents.

    “The NSA has been getting secret court orders to track millions of telephone calls. Would you consider this access acceptable or unacceptable.”

    I say, what a thoroughly dishonest question. They should make that question more fitting to the actual content they’re grabbing. It should read more like this:

    “The NSA has been getting secret court orders to track millions of telephone calls. ,The content they are collecting not only includes the 10 digits you enter but any additional numbers including any bank accounts or brokerage account numbers and the associated pin numbers you may use to access your banking information. They are also recording the content of all calls, so they can be reviewed at a later date for criminal content should a person become a suspect in a crime or communicate with someone who is or was a suspect in a crime. Everything in your conversations would be recorded including any account names or pin numbers or other secret type questions your service provider may ask to identify you. Would you consider this access acceptable or unacceptable.”

    That is a more fitting question. I’d like to see the response to that question.

    Robert, the imbecile.

  7. Craig Knauss


    You may think that yours is a more acceptable question, but try asking someone that over a phone. By the time your caller finishes his narration (more like a dissertation) the listener will have forgotten what the question is about. And talk about a loaded question! You do everything but tell the listener what the “correct” answer is. Hardly an opinion poll.

    And do you have any real proof that the NSA is getting bank account numbers, brokerage account numbers, PIN numbers, etc. from phone conversations? I don’t know about you, but I seldom give that information to anyone over a phone.

  8. Robert

    Craig, what do you think they’re grabbing? Do you think they stop grabbing numbers after the 10th digit (that’s called truncating). Why would they stop collecting digits after the 10th one entered? Just by chance they were tracking the phone calls of a terrorists, and that terrorist was doing business with someone at an extensi0n # (an extension # in a large company with 100o extensions), don’t you think the NSA would want to know who that extension belonged to? So do you think they are only grabbing the first 10 digits? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of tracking their calls? So, by default, if they’re doing major sweeps of all calls, as that’s what Snowden is claiming, then wouldn’t they be collecting the entire data string? If not, why wouldn’t they and how could be them not collecting be an effective criminal investigation? I think there’s some things we should assume here.

    PS – I used to work in the credit card industry, I know a little bit about it. Encryption does occur on some transmissions (bank to bank), but not when your entering your acct number into your phone to access your account. By the way, I talked with the internet security dept at my bank and told them of my concern, it became theirs too. They hadn’t thought about it but could see how my concerns could be relevant. That was long before this story broke. I knew about this 10+ years ago. I also used to work in a law firm. Lots of confidential conversations go on there. Lots of info that the opposing law firm would love to know. I know the govt wants us to believe they’re not collecting audio and storing it, but Snowden said differently. We’re being lied to by someone. Who has the greater motive to lie? The Govt? or the guy who put his life on the line to let people know the constitution is being trampled on, basically ruled invalid in some occurrences.

    Another PS – In an article I linked on another Applesauce thread, it discussed the Prism program. It claims the govt is only collecting data on non-USA citizens. Really? I just got a new phone carrier. They never asked me if I was a U S citizen? How does the govt know who is a foreign citizen and who is not when it comes to phone records. Craig, we’re being lied to. “According to the official, the sessions that took place over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011 touched on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, which gives the attorney general and director of national intelligence the authority to gather intelligence on non-U.S. citizens for up to one year. ”

    Read more: http://blogs.e-rockford.com/applesauce/2013/06/10/fox-news-analyst-says-nsa-leaker-should-be-executed/#ixzz2Vs5446g4

  9. Robert

    Good grief, I sure mangled this sentence. From the above post. Here’s what I meant to say.

    ” So, by default, if they’re doing major sweeps of all calls, as that’s what Snowden is claiming, then wouldn’t they be collecting the entire data string? If not, why wouldn’t they and how could they conduct an effective criminal investigation without all the necessary info? I think there’s some things we should assume here.

  10. Craig Knauss

    Here’s some history on the NSA and its intended function. It was created in 1952. None of the current “controversy” should be much of a surprise.

    “The predecessor of the National Security Agency was the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA), created on May 20, 1949.[4] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The AFSA was to direct the communications and electronic intelligence activities of the U.S. military intelligence units: the Army Security Agency, the Naval Security Group, and the Air Force Security Service. However, that agency had little power and lacked a centralized coordination mechanism. The creation of NSA resulted from a December 10, 1951, memo sent by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Walter Bedell Smith to James S. Lay, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council.[5]”

    “The creation of NSA was authorized in a letter written by President Harry S. Truman in June 1952. The agency was formally established through a revision of National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9 on October 24, 1952,[5] and officially came into existence on November 4, 1952.”


  11. Brian Opsahl

    It would probably scare the hell out of all of us if we knew all the stuff they can do…I would like to believe that all of it is used to catch and kill terrorist….here or elsewhere…but im not stupid either….always remember someone has to guard the henhouse so to speak…and you want them on that wall fully loaded and ready to go to war at any time…!!

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