Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you give it to others.”     William Allen White

December 13, 2006

Support For Domestic Spying Slipping

by Doug Mataconis

Five years after 9/11, fewer Americans think it’s such a great idea for the government to spy on it’s citizens:

Two-thirds of Americans believe that the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on privacy rights as part of terrorism investigations, but they remain divided over whether such tactics are justified, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday.

The poll also showed that 52 percent of respondents favor congressional hearings on how the Bush administration has handled surveillance, detainees and other terrorism-related issues, compared with 45 percent who are opposed. That question was posed to half of the poll’s 1,005-person random sample.

Overall, the poll — which includes questions that have been asked since 2002 and 2003 — showed a continued skepticism about whether the government is adequately protecting privacy rights as it conducts terrorism-related investigations.

Compared with June 2002, for example, almost twice as many respondents say the need to respect privacy outranks the need to investigate terrorist threats. That shift was first evident in polling conducted in January 2006.

That sentiment is still a minority view, however: Nearly two-thirds rank investigating threats as more important than guarding against intrusions on personal privacy, down from 79 percent in 2002.

Slowly but surely, though, the public seems to be coming to the realization that the surveillance state is not the best of all possible worlds.


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