June 11, 2013

WaPo-Pew poll: 56% of Americans support NSA access to phone records. 41% oppose.

Back in 2006, when Bush was President and before a court order was part of the procedure, there was a poll that showed 51% support and 47% opposition.

There was also a question about what's "more important right now" — "for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy" or "for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats." In the new poll, 62% favored investigations and only 34% said privacy. The partisan skewing here is fascinating:
Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say terrorism investigations, not privacy, should be the government’s main concern, an 18-percentage-point jump from early January 2006...  Compared with that time, Republicans’ focus on privacy has increased 22 points.

The reversal on the NSA’s practices is even more dramatic. In early 2006, 37 percent of Democrats found the agency’s activities acceptable; now nearly twice that number — 64 percent — say the use of telephone records is okay. By contrast, Republicans slumped from 75 percent acceptable to 52 percent today. 
Compared with a 2002 Pew poll, Democrats are now 12 percentage points more apt to support the government’s monitoring of all e-mails and other online activity if officials say that it might help prevent terrorist attacks. On the flip side, the number of Republicans who say the government should not do this has increased by 13 points.
That reminds me of the poll I took on June 7th, based on my observation that "The NSA data collection program separates the partisans from the ideologues, now that the President is a Democrat":



Maybe there's an algorithm that can get us to what Americans really think of privacy and security, without the filter of partisanship, but I'm afraid there is no such real thinking. It's all, always, inside the filter, even the desire to present oneself as ideologically consistent.

63 comments:

Clyde said...

"Mother, should I trust the government?"

No.

Colonel Angus said...

Well I guess that settles it. The American people have spoken and now they must be punished.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think, primarily, it is an issue of trust. Republicans trusted Bush wouldn't use his power to punish his opponents, so they were more willing to let him do what needed to be done. Same deal with Democrats and Obama.

Lem said...

It's all, always, inside the filter, even the desire to present oneself as ideologically consistent.

The pageantry quotient skews the results. Only poll disabled Americans.

God bless you, very useful, success.

campy said...

Same deal with Democrats and Obama.

Ha. Democrats and repubs both want the other side punished.

Lyssa said...

I can understand drifting away from a position of more surveillance and towards more privacy in the past several years without it necessarily being partisanship-driven. After 9/11, we were all scared, and angry, and wanted Something To Be Done. We're more removed from that now. Also, we know more about the governmental abuses now, with the IRS abuse and so forth.

I can't imagine any possibly justification, other than naked partisanship, for being against it before, and OK with it now.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Ha. Democrats and repubs both want the other side punished."

-- Yet, there's been no credible evidence of abuses of the First Amendment by Bush to target Democrats, compared to the IRS scandal and the persecution of Fox reporters. So, you know, maybe Republicans -want- it, but they haven't been willing to pervert the government to do so.

Matthew Sablan said...

One reason I can see for the shift though is the new knowledge of what, exactly, they can do. For example, the story that said they can watch as you type emails if they wanted to do so. I could imagine before when people assumed only known or suspected terrorists were bugged, that they'd be for that. Then, when they learn, no, everyone is potentially bugged, and it is much more intrusive than we thought, that people might balk at that idea. A bit like a wake up call.

Going from not liking it to liking it is harder to square.

Astro said...

Let's have another poll and ask that same 56% what the letters NSA stand for. If they don't know, toss their numbers out of the poll.
And yes, I do think the 41% know the answer.

Jay said...

So in other words, Democrats like the idea since their guy is in charge.

Clyde said...

As I noted in the open thread downstream, somewhere, Felix Dzerzhinsky is smiling.

Lem said...

Do most people with a computer and a smart phone with GPS know that their gadgets are loaded with cookie like features tracking/tracing everything they do with them?

I'm going to assume that more of them do, more of them now that Obama happens to be president than then when Bush happened to be and the tracking technology was not as advanced and common as it is today.

So, there is that commercial/convenience aspect that maybe some people are adding to the mix.

MayBee said...

I oppose it being secret. I oppose the lack of oversight.

Matthew Sablan said...

Trust really is a central matter; between the IRS and EPA leaking information to political enemies of conservatives, it seems obvious to me why conservatives would sour on the idea the government is collecting information on them. Sort of like once your significant other cheats on you, if you for some reason accept them back, every late night at the office is going to be suspect.

Lem said...

I'm not looking at any of this in a vacuum... I want to pick up everything.

Michael Haz said...

It is a false issue. The real issues are the use of a federal agency - the IRS - to forcefully punish the political opponents of this administration, and seemingly willing failure to defend US property and personnel in the embassy in Benghazi.

Keep you eyes on the ball, people.

Robert Cook said...

It's official...56% of Americans are fucking clueless idiots.

Well, Benjamin Franklin called it...he knew we wouldn't be able to hold on to our republic.

It's lost, over...done.

Tank said...

Robert Cook said...

It's official...56% of Americans are fucking clueless idiots.


Yep, it's their country now.

Reason 824 why voting is overrated. Ijits happy to give Lois Lerner and Carl Rove access to everything in their lives. What could go wrong?

Aridog said...

Question: What, exactly, have we learned that is new from Snowden? Aside from the "drama" I mean. Four other whistle-blowers said essentially the same things as Snowden a few years ago. What makes it different now?

I really would like to know what is special now that wasn't last year and the year before.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think the main reason this leak made a splash is that trust in government has been reeling, whereas years ago, A) We didn't actually see the slides (which, apparently, he also leaked) that showed the scope and scale of the program, and B) We weren't just hearing about tons of other government abuses of data collected for perfectly legitimate means perverted by government operatives.

Steve Koch said...

Cook,

Good for you.


---------------------

Althouse said:
"Maybe there's an algorithm that can get us to what Americans really think of privacy and security, without the filter of partisanship, but I'm afraid there is no such real thinking. It's all, always, inside the filter, even the desire to present oneself as ideologically consistent."

Althouse might be projecting. Lots of people are mostly principled and decide based on principle rather than politics. For example, most libertarians and constitutional conservatives distrust government no matter which party is in control. My guess is that well over half GOP voters want to shrink the size, power, and cost of government.

Bob Ellison said...

I like your idea of an algorithm. The poll bugs me, though, because the poll question is so simple. I don't think most respondents know nearly enough about the PRISM, the NSA, its methods, the history of privacy rights, the 4th Amendment, and related issues to make a response that matches their true feelings.

A friend of mine said about the disparity between the 2006 and 2013 polls, "It's all about the team jerseys." That seems right to me. Your algorithm would require sophisticated methodology, like that Tim Groseclose deployed in his survey of media bias.

Chip S. said...

As I posted yesterday, Rasmussen finds exactly the opposite.

Balfegor said...

I wish we had data from before and after the IRS targeting scandal blew open -- I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans' concerns re: privacy spiked right after that.

Bob Ellison said...

Excellent point, Chip S.

Bob Ellison said...

I'd like to know how many people read the Professor's headline and think initially it's about a disease or a fancy Asian dish: "WaPo-Pew poll? Ew!" And would that make them more likely or less likely to read the whole post?

Colonel Angus said...

It's official...56% of Americans are fucking clueless idiots.

Well, Benjamin Franklin called it...he knew we wouldn't be able to hold on to our republic.


This really should not come as a surprise. When the citizenry demand more government, this is what you get. You demand government health care, government protection from evil corporatations, government protection of the environment, protection from unemployment. All those protections come at the expense of freedom at some level.

The irony is leftists during their Captain Renault imitation when the big government they demand acts like one.

Aridog said...

Matthew Sablan said...

I think the main reason this leak made a splash is that trust in government has been reeling,...

I can see that, however, it still seems that we've not learned anything new. More drama, a lot of it dubious at best, nothing else.

@Leslyn's comment on the "extradition" thread seems about right to me ...

... a man who would love to secretly wear a colorful uniform with lots of gold braid and medals in his spare time, admiring himself in the mirror.

For example: the US army's chief civilian spokesman, George Wright, [cited by The Guardian] said ...

"His records indicate he enlisted in the army reserve as a special forces recruit (18X) on 7 May 2004 but was discharged 28 September 2004, ... He did not complete any training or receive any awards, ..."

Essentially, he washed out before finishing the preparation course for direct 18X enlistees, and never made it to the first assessment level.

Puzzling, but likely a misstatement, is the "did not complete any training" statement by the US Army...given he should have completed basic, advanced individual training [infantry], and airborne school, with the award of the Army Parachutist Badge...within the period he was enlisted in the SF program.

Bryan C said...

This is meaningless. It was a different program in 2006. Also a different question from Pew.

Bryan C said...

"It is a false issue."

It's all the same issue. If we're willing to abandon the limits on government power found in the Bill of Rights, then what exactly did the IRS do wrong?

Paco Wové said...

"in other words, Democrats like the idea since their guy is in charge."

Oddly similar to Republicans in that way.

edutcher said...

MOE = 4.5 - joke.

I couldn't find a breakdown of Ds, Is, and Rs - anybody else see it?

Chip S. said...

As I posted yesterday, Rasmussen finds exactly the opposite.

There's a shocker - 59% Oppose Government’s Secret Collecting of Phone Records.

edutcher said...

If I'm reading this right -

22% - R

35% - I

33% - D


Joke.

Darrell said...

People are voting based on the old explanation of the program that doesn't include PRISM. When they find out what PRISM can really do--and more importantly, what was done with it--they will change their tune. Do you think NSA employees exist in a vacuum? They lost girlfriends/boyfriends to rivals and have the same sort of prurient interest we all do. They looked. They listened. They try to screw enemies in ways they thought could not come back to them. Politicians that knew about it tried to get them to do the same.

Phil said...

Aridog, he may have enlisted on May 7, but that doesn't mean he reported to BCT that week. My son enlisted in April of last year, but they didn't send him to BCT until August.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Look, if Rand Paul got the White House, HE would continue the NSA program. Because his aides would pull him aside and explain to him that his fears are based on ignorance, and that the consequences of not using an NSA style program and having a terrorist attack get through and saying he removed a program of this type that could have tracked terrorist activity and potentially have stopped the attack would be devastating to his presidency.

This is why Obama continued Bush's programs. Because Bush's programs were right all along, and Obama demagogued the issue when running because he was ignorant or cravenly , or both. But now that he has to deal with the threat of terrorism he wants tools in place that will do that.

And so too will the libertarian. Not that I expect a libertarian to be president. Ten again, I was shocked that Obama became president (the first time).

Chip S. said...

I see jr565's back w/ more made-up "facts" that "prove" his point.

Look, we get it. You're cool w/ anything your Gov't Daddy tells you is necessary for your protection.

You don't have to keep posting counterfactual assertions.

jr565 said...

Colonel angus wrote:
This really should not come as a surprise. When the citizenry demand more government, this is what you get. You demand government health care, government protection from evil corporatations, government protection of the environment, protection from unemployment. All those protections come at the expense of freedom at some level.


What if you want bigger govt, but only in the role that govt should play without question? Namely, defense and the protection of the country. I don't want that to be small govt. that is really the only role of govt that not even libertarians should question.
Not to to say that you can't cut some programs, and change your priorities about what the threats are. But no one else will perform that role.

jr565 said...

Chip S wrote:

Look, we get it. You're cool w/ anything your Gov't Daddy tells you is necessary for your protection.

and look we get it. Chip s is back with his complete lack of detail as to what he would do to deal with terrorism. But he still demands results!
Join Code Pink while you're at it.

Larry J said...



Michael Haz said...
It is a false issue. The real issues are the use of a federal agency - the IRS - to forcefully punish the political opponents of this administration, and seemingly willing failure to defend US property and personnel in the embassy in Benghazi.

Keep you eyes on the ball, people.


Actually, you need to keep your eyes on multiple balls. Not only has the IRS been politicizied but also the DOJ, DOS, DHS and the EPA. Why should we believe that the NSA is different? The intelligence you can derive from phone call metadata, emails and credit card purchases is extensive should anyone take an interest in you. How can we believe that the NSA is any less politicized than the IRS?

jr565 said...

Look, we get it. You're cool w/ anything your Gov't Daddy tells you is necessary for your protection.

but you would be ok with your super special surveillance program restricted in the exact way you say will protect all our rights, while infallibly weeding out all terrorist threats. And that wouldn't be Govt Daddy.
Not that your program could actually ever exist because its based on fantasy thinking requiring literally zero detail that needs to be described.
But suppose govt were to enact that exact program? would you support it? No, because you are simply talking out of your ass.

edutcher said...

Larry J said...

Actually, you need to keep your eyes on multiple balls. Not only has the IRS been politicizied but also the DOJ, DOS, DHS and the EPA. Why should we believe that the NSA is different?

Don't forget DoD, Labor, HHS, or Treasury.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Larry J, don't cut off your nose to spite your face. I have an assumption that a conservative (and not a libertarian unless he grows a brain) will take the White House soon. And my guess is, right after Obama actually.
But do you want THAT president to have a DOJ and an NSA program. Villify the people in charge, but don't neuter the tools that a president you support will need to do things like run govt and protect the country. Because if your guy wins the White house, he will need those tools.

Aridog said...

Phil said...

Aridog, he may have enlisted on May 7, but that doesn't mean he reported to BCT that week. My son enlisted in April of last year, but they didn't send him to BCT until August.

Yes, I am aware of the delayed entry programs, especially those with Reserve components or otherwise directed at particular MOS schooling. I don't know what Snowden accomplished in his 4.5 months, total time, and it may very well be that he washed out in the first month in BCT. That would fit with what the Army spokesman said.

In his dramatic interview he made a point of "training for Special Forces" etc...when, even with his total time, he could not have entered the first actual Special Forces assessment phase.

MikeR said...

I would think the solution is obvious. NSAR and NSAD. NSAR spies only on Democrats, and employs only Republicans. NSAD is the reverse. Both report directly to a triumvirate consisting of a Democrat, and Republican, and a member of Al Qaeda. Once a year, they each send a team to a volley-ball match, to maintain camaraderie between the services.

What’s not to like?

edutcher said...

Aridog said...

In his dramatic interview he made a point of "training for Special Forces" etc...when, even with his total time, he could not have entered the first actual Special Forces assessment phase.

That may be a reference only to going in under the 18X program.

blackfive had a piece on this yesterday.

Simon said...

Told you so. Well, okay, I predicted support by "vast majority," and I'm surprised that the number isn't north of 70%, but it's still a solid majority.

Robert Cook said...

"This really should not come as a surprise. When the citizenry demand more government, this is what you get. You demand government health care, government protection from evil corporatations, government protection of the environment, protection from unemployment. All those protections come at the expense of freedom at some level."

No.

Government "of the people, for the people, and by the people" should serve the people, and act as the mechanism by which people can effect improvements in their society and living conditions they cannot bring about individually.

The problem is not "big" government, as such--if we're going to have a federal government at all for a nation as large as ours, it will be and must be "big." The problem is government that is not responsive and answerable to the people, that serves itself and/or other constituents--the financial elites, as ever throughout history--rather than serving us. This is the result of the ambition and greed of human beings, which is why those we elect to represent/serve us must be subject to the law and must be kept under close scrutiny as they perform their public service.

Simon said...

MayBee said...
"I oppose it being secret. I oppose the lack of oversight."

There is oversight. There's oversight from the FISA court and the FISA court of review. There's oversight from Congress. There isn't the kind of normal full, transparent, disclosure that we like to see in other areas, certainly. We can't oversee it. But then, we can't and shouldn't! This kind of program must operate secretly. Nothing I can say is more trenchant than Justice Stewart's concurrence in the Pentagon Papers case:

"[I]t is elementary that the successful conduct of international diplomacy and the maintenance of an effective national defense require both confidentiality and secrecy. Other nations can hardly deal with this Nation in an atmosphere of mutual trust unless they can be assured that their confidences will be kept. And, within our own executive departments, the development of considered and intelligent international policies would be impossible if those charged with their formulation could not communicate with each other freely, frankly, and in confidence. In the area of basic national defense, the frequent need for absolute secrecy is, of course, self-evident.

"I think there can be but one answer to this dilemma, if dilemma it be. The responsibility must be where the power is. If the Constitution gives the Executive a large degree of unshared power in the conduct of foreign affairs and the maintenance of our national defense, then, under the Constitution, the Executive must have the largely unshared duty to determine and preserve the degree of internal security necessary to exercise that power successfully. It is an awesome responsibility, requiring judgment and wisdom of a high order."

Robert Cook said...

"Villify the people in charge, but don't neuter the tools that a president you support will need to do things like run govt and protect the country. Because if your guy wins the White house, he will need those tools."

If tools of such virtually unlimited, unchecked power are kept in place, they will be used to their fullest extent by whomever is in office. The POTUS is supposed to be neutered and is not meant to have monarchical power.

Tank said...

Simon

FISA granted 100% of the applications that were not withdrawn by the gov't. Is that likely to be good oversight?

Congress is busy with other things. They are not overseeing this anymore than the thousands of other things they are supposedly overseeing.

Simon said...

Robert Cook said...
"The problem is not 'big' government, as such--if we're going to have a federal government at all for a nation as large as ours, it will be and must be 'big.'"

Well, yes and no. That depends on what is meant by "big" and what we think that the federal government ought to be doing. Big is as big does, of course; if every government entity except the EOP, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the department of defense were to be abolished tomorrow, we would still have a pretty big government by some measures. But anyway: Our nation has been as large as it has, more-or-less, since the latter half of the 19th century. (Yes, yes, Alaska and Hawaii... Really?) Yet government today is larger. Why? Not because the nation is bigger but because the government does more. If the government did less, it could be smaller. Which was the Colonel's point. If you want government to do more things, bigger machinery will be needed. You take it as a given, you just assume, that government can and should do more things, limited only by individual rights and the nebulous notion that government should expand to do those things that are "good" for "the people" but not to do those things that are "bad" for "the people." But you are wrong. Big government is in itself bad for the people, and for that reason, many of us would have government do less (some less than others), and would evaluate a new program not only in terms of its potential benefits but its potential costs in terms of the expansion of government which it entails.

Simon said...

Tank said...
"FISA granted 100% of the applications that were not withdrawn by the gov't. Is that likely to be good oversight?"

Yes. Next question?

Aridog said...

edutcher said...

That may be a reference only to going in under the 18X program.

I am aware of that, and he didn't lie about entering a directed program, just slighted a bit on the "training for" part...which for the time of his enlistment he could have competed only what any other airborne infantry candidate would accomplish. Several of the veteran commenters here did as much or more and still didn't "train for Special forces."

However, within that direct 18X MOS specific program, each step is prerequisite to the next, and acceptance in to the Special Forces Assessment/Assignment and Selection course...which is actually the first phase of SF training...the rest is preparatory for entry and entry is not guaranteed...even if you pass the prerequisite courses.

edutcher said...

Agreed.

edutcher said...

Robert Cook said...

Villify the people in charge, but don't neuter the tools that a president you support will need to do things like run govt and protect the country. Because if your guy wins the White house, he will need those tools.

If tools of such virtually unlimited, unchecked power are kept in place, they will be used to their fullest extent by whomever is in office. The POTUS is supposed to be neutered and is not meant to have monarchical power.


For once, we are in agreement.

And very well stated, may I say.

Darrell said...

There is oversight. There's oversight from the FISA court and the FISA court of review.

And yet the FISA court has been dubbed a "rubber stamp" according to recent news reports of "off-the-record" conversations. FBI poeple are saying that some 75% of FISA warrant applicants could be BS--made up. The FISA Court has no way of checking facts. The FBI would rather use "high-tech" than doing things the old-fashioned way and they make shit up about the suspects contacts, saying that they were seen on several occasions talking to a known bad actor on the list. What's worse, FBI brass knows about it and doesn't stop it.

Tank said...

Well Simon, we'll have to disagree. LOL.

Larry J said...

jr565 said...
Larry J, don't cut off your nose to spite your face. I have an assumption that a conservative (and not a libertarian unless he grows a brain) will take the White House soon. And my guess is, right after Obama actually.
But do you want THAT president to have a DOJ and an NSA program. Villify the people in charge, but don't neuter the tools that a president you support will need to do things like run govt and protect the country. Because if your guy wins the White house, he will need those tools.


I've spent almost all my adult life either in the military or working as a defense contractor. I certainly don't want America to be weak. However, I don't see the people working at the NSA (or any of the other TLAs) as being inherently more trustworthy than those who work at the IRS, DOJ, etc. While many of them are likely good people with good intentions, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see their data on American citizens being abused. Go to Amazon and search for "Three Felonies a Day" to see how even someone with nothing to hide can get into trouble should someone in the government take an interest in him.

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