Gallup: Two-thirds of Americans don’t want anti-terrorism efforts to violate civil liberties


In the months just after  the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, a Gallup poll showed that almost half of all Americans weren’t too concerned about protecting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism.

The situation has changed dramatically, however, as time has passed.

HERE‘s the latest:

The federal government’s recent actions to limit the scope of what it can do to prevent terrorism are consistent with Americans’ preference to prioritize civil liberties over anti-terrorism efforts when the two come into conflict. Sixty-five percent of Americans say the government should take steps to prevent terrorism but not violate civil liberties, while 30% think any steps to prevent terrorism are justified, even if they violate liberties. In the first few months after 9/11, Americans were more divided on the issue.

The latest results are based on a June 2-7 Gallup poll, conducted after Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law the USA Freedom Act, designed to replace the expiring and controversial Patriot Act that was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These laws help define the scope of government efforts to prevent terrorist attacks against the U.S. Notably, the new law does not authorize the government to collect data on citizens’ electronic communications, a secret program that was exposed by former government contractor and now U.S. exile Edward Snowden. However, the government can still obtain those records from the phone companies if it has a warrant.

In January 2002, four months after the 9/11 attacks and with concerns about terrorism still high, 47% of Americans said the government should take all necessary steps to prevent terrorism, even those that violated individual civil liberties, while 49% said anti-terror efforts should stop short of violating civil liberties.