Weird poll: Majority say NSA leaker did a “good thing,” but most also want him prosecuted


Earlier today, I told you HERE about the divergence among respective results of several polls on the subject of National Security Agency surveillance as a safeguard against terrorism.

Well, HERE‘s another poll on the matter — and this one has divergence built right into its results:

More than half of Americans approve of a former intelligence contractor’s decision to leak classified details of sprawling government surveillance programs, according to the results of a new TIME poll.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said the leaker, Edward Snowden, 29, did a “good thing” in releasing information about the government programs, which collect phone, email, and Internet search records in an effort, officials say, to prevent terrorist attacks. Just 30 percent disagreed.

But an almost identical number of Americans —  53 percent —  still said he should be prosecuted for the leak, compared to 28% who said he should not. Americans aged 18 to 34 break from older generations in showing far more support for Snowden’s actions. Just 41 percent of that cohort say he should face charges, while 43 percent say he should not. Just 19 percent of that age group say the leak was a “bad thing.”

Overall, Americans are sharply divided over the government’s use of surveillance programs to prevent terrorist attacks, according to the results of the poll. Forty-eight percent of Americans approve of the surveillance programs, while 44 percent disapprove, a statistical tie given the poll’s four-point margin of error…

A majority of the poll’s respondents say that the surveillance programs have helped protect national security, with 63 percent saying they’ve had “some” or a “great deal” of impact in protecting the country. Just 31 percent says they’ve done “not much” or “nothing at all.”

A narrow plurality of those polled, 48 percent to 43 percent, believe that the federal government is striking the right balance between protecting Americans’ privacy and protecting their physical well-being or that the government should be doing more to prevent terrorism.



  1. Robert

    The headline reads “NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants”. Got the main story from the Huffington Post.

    My predictions:

    In the next 5 years, all these video cameras we see at all the stores and businesses we patronize will be well on their way to being connected to the Utah NSA data tracking facility.

    In the next 5 years, the ping that our cell phones gives off will track our every where about (already does) and that data will be stored at the Utah NSA facility. The same goes for those little antenna’s that are on all new cars since about 2006 (if I recall correctly). Those antenna’s will send a ping to the Utah NSA data tracking facility showing every place our car has traveled using the GPS system. (If you’re a politician or some prominent figure, be careful about parking too close to your mistress’s apartment or taking your cell phone with you that could give away your exact whereabouts.).

    In the next 10 years, that same ping will alert devices installed in every store and street that will track our every move. Those video cams lenses will have something comparable to a fly’s eye with multiple lens built into them so they can track hundreds, maybe even thousands of separate pings (and the people’s images they are emanating from) as we move about the stores we shop in and the streets we travel on. We’re all actors now.

    And just remember, the NSA contracts out much if not most of its endeavors to private contractors who see collecting data as a source of revenue to be sold. You are not only a consumer but a commodity to be sold for the value o=your data represents. And better hope that some tyrant doesn’t get elected because all they will have to do is look up people based on key words, key words that tyrant believes are what people who don’t like him/her would use. Dissent is at peril but most people haven’t realized that yet.

    Reality TV had its role to play in getting people accustomed to what its like to live under the lens. Most viewers didn’t realize they would soon become reality tv stars too. And people thought it was just a new form of entertainment. Some are saying the same thing about buying bottled water, that its a way of getting people used to a time when clean drinking and bathing water isn’t going to be as easily available as it is today (but that’s a different story to be covered at a later date). What if that movie, Hunger Games, is based in a future reality?

    I could make a bunch more predictions, but this should be enough for now.

    Welcome to the 21st century. Enjoy. Does it make you feel safer or creeped out?

    But what do I know, I’m just a paranoid conspiritorialist, wacko, wierdo. Even weirder than expdoc, because Pat says so.


  2. expdoc

    Weird, huh?

    I am the most upstanding, rule abiding and least weird person you have ever interacted with Robert. If that is Pat’s measuring stick then you are on solid ground.

  3. Robert

    expdoc, I have no doubt you are as you claim. I have no doubt I’m raising legitimate issues and I suspect my predictions are probably already in play, if not well past the planning process. I have many more to come.

    I said this NSA scandal had legs numerous days back. It’s not going away. 3000 people died on 911. How many people die each year from murder by hand guns, at the hand of drunk drivers, from cancer, from mistakes made hospitals? I can tell you, far more than 3000? But somehow, 911 was the rallying call to destroy everything we know or thought we knew about our country.

    This NSA program is nothing more than the TIA system repackaged as something more palatable and easier to sell to a minimally apathetic society, not to mention heavily drugged on anti-depressants and soon, Marijuana, a very mellowing substance. Didn’t Orwell’s 1984 talk about a very compliant society that made way for the future he foresaw?

    The right to privacy and freedom of speech and association are severely under attack because people will be intimidated into watching everything they say. Spontaneous thought and expression will soon become very guarded, like it was in East Germany and the other communist countries (for example). The right to peacefully dissent may still be in place, but how long before those comments will be used against us, should some tyrant get elected? People need to look further out at the long term effects this data gathering will have.

    I broke down this week and decided maybe I better call my elected reps and tell them of my fears. I was amazed by their reactions. They too are very concerned about the abuses gathering such information can lead to. These NSA employee’s are mostly private contractors. How easily will it be for them to gather data on someone if they are approaced by some entity with lots of money? Especially if its data that could throw an election or sway the decision of some big legal case, for instance? We’ve seen how photo’s can be altered? How long before data can be altered to place some target of the govt at the wrong place and make it look real just like those doctored photos do?

    expdoc, I know you’ve supported this NSA effort, but even you could find yourself on the wrong side of an issue that some leader down the road might find threatening. None of us will spared that potential outcome. Information is power. Power that could be mishandled and very destructive to us as individual and as a society, if in the wrong hands.

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We are handing absolute power over to the corporations our government is subcontracting all this data grabbing to. Think long term. Where are we heading?

  4. Robert

    I’m posting this story contradicting the first link I put in my original post. I wanted to do that before Patrick does. Now it seems there is a backlash to what Jerry Nadler claims he heard. His understanding of the meeting is being challenged. Jerry is a very intelligent man with a good education and legal background. Now his credibility is being attacked. Where and how many times have we seen that happen when someone representing the authorities springs up to defend the undefensible.

    Truth is so hard for the American people to uncover because truth becomes whatever the more powerful entity can overrule. People are going to believe along their political leanings. Use to be a time when there was only one truth on a given subject, not anymore.

    From wikipedia, “Nadler graduated from Columbia University and Fordham University School of Law in 1978.” Should we all believe that somehow Jerry is foolish man incapable of interpreting correctly what is put in front of him or was the original article written in a sloppy manner? Either way, if they’re collecting all calls, abuse of that information is going to happen. Snowden said lots of analyst had access to that date. It makes sense the NSA would oppose his claims even if it was true. I think that’s a given. There’s enough politicians outraged by this program that hearings will occur. Senator Wyden is leading the way.

    I’m fairly certain Jerry Nadler will put out a statement to clear up this growing controversy.

    And Patrick, to bad if you think I’m bogarting this board. This is an issue that is very important to me. I’m sure it is to many people.


  5. Robert

    I listened to NPR this evening. Terry Gross interviewed a man named Shane Harris, author of The Watchers. He gave a fascinating overview of the intelligence gathering networks being used by our government and also how these various sub-contractors, that the NSA employs, do work for other governments who want to set up an intelligence gathering program.

    He noted how these programs are basically built to be benign in usage and its the various administrations or leaders of the country’s they’re doing business with that will determine how the information gathered is used.

    In America, these programs are presented as narrowly defined and supposedly done under court oversight, but we forget that as this information is being gathered, and also gathered on us by other countries who use the very same programs we are using (think of the military industrial complex who sells weapons to the same regimes that eventually turn them on us), how this information is used in the future could be very telling about what the immediate goals are gathering this information is now.

    It was a fascinating interview. Well worth listening to. There’s obviously long term goals for all this data. As I’ve said in the past, the ruse for gathering it is all about protecting us from terrorist and terrorism, but information is power and in the wrong hands, we’ve seen how information can and is used against people. Especially when dissent is involved.

    We hear a lot about cloud technology. Just where is this cloud? Couldn’t the NSA site in Utah and others like it, be the very cloud that’s being posed as the future of where all of our activities are archived and stored? What if the NSA facility in Utah and all the others that are like it, is the cloud?

    People really need to think about a time when someone or some ideology like we’ve seen in the past, who has access to all this information, could use it in a way that nobody here wants to believe will or could ever happen.


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