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.