A recent poll revealed some surprises about how Americans feel about their constitutional rights after ten years of changes in how the Fourth Amendment has been applied in their lives. They still care a great deal about civil liberties protections, even in the face of the need to deal with increased government surveillance. They have differing levels of tolerance for intrusions however, depending on the circumstances.
Readers are encouraged to read the full WaPo article for the details of this truly fascinating poll.
Poll: Americans open to trading off some liberties _ within limits _ to fight terrorism
By Associated Press, Published: September 6
WASHINGTON — Surveillance cameras in public places? Sure. Body scans at airports? Maybe. Snooping in personal email? Not so fast.
Ten years after the 9/11 attacks led to amped-up government surveillance efforts, two-thirds of Americans say it’s fitting to sacrifice some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
A slim majority — 54 percent — say that if they had to choose between preserving their rights and freedoms and protecting people from terrorists, they’d come down on the side of civil liberties. The public is particularly protective of the privacy of U.S. citizens, voicing sharp opposition to government surveillance of Americans’ emails and phone calls.
The poll asked people to grapple with some of same quandaries that the government and the courts have been wrestling with over the past decade, and even before the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Two-thirds of those surveyed believe the resulting policies are a mish-mash created in reaction to events as they occur rather than clearly planned.
The AP-NORC poll found that about half of those surveyed felt that they have indeed lost some of their own personal freedoms to fight terrorism. Was it worth it? Close to half of those who thought they’d lost freedoms doubted it was necessary.
Overall, six in 10 say the government is doing enough to protect Americans’ rights and freedoms as it fights terrorism. But people may not even be aware of what they’ve given up. The extent of government eavesdropping and surveillance is something of a mystery.