Edward Snowden seen as whistle-blower by majority of U.S. registered voters

“A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released today shows,” Jonathan D. Salant reports for Bloomberg.

“Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, in the survey from Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University,” Salant reports. “hirty-four percent said he’s a traitor. Snowden, 30, worked for McLean, Virginia-based federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp.”

Salant reports, “The poll also showed that by 45 percent to 40 percent, respondents said the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism. That was a reversal from January 2010, when in a similar survey 63 percent said anti-terrorism activities didn’t go far enough to protect the U.S. from attacks, compared with 25 percent who disagreed.”

“‘The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor, are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,’ said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute,” Salant reports.

MacDailyNews Take: “Trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” sure. But, is that all they’re doing or is that just a convenient excuse?

Salant reports, “The view of Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than traitor predominated among almost every group of respondents broken down by party, gender, income, education and age. Black voters were the lone exception, with 43 percent calling Snowden a traitor compared with 42 percent saying he was a whistle-blower… The poll showed both Democrats and Republicans about evenly divided on whether government counter-terrorism measures have become excessive. Independent voters view the methods as having gone too far by 49 percent to 36 percent… The poll showed that men, by 54 percent to 34 percent, see the government as having gone too far in its efforts while women, by 47 percent to 36 percent, said the measures haven’t gone far enough. ‘It would be naive to see these numbers as anything but evidence of a rethinking by the public about the tradeoffs between security and freedom,’ Brown said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “David G.” for the heads up.]

80 Comments

    1. Nah, if the NSA wanted us to think of him as a traitor, we would. This just keeps their narrative out there and keeps everyone distracted while the REAL deal is still unknown.

    1. Then you’re wrong, stupid and un-American.

      If the NSA, and the private contractors they hire, can. Read anyone’s email (texts, chats, Skype calls, SkyDrive, etc, etc.), and if they are unsupervised and accountable to no one (and it turns out that’s the case) then they hold all the power in this “democracy”.

      1. NSA is again organization or terrorist organization. Take your pick, both really. The US goverent has become the Soviet Union that we supposedly fought against and the terrorist have already won since I can’t take a water bottle or shoes onto a plane, and they have to bathe me in X-rays every time I want to fly, and yet they won’t profile.

        Now every communication or action I do anywhere with anyone is subject to unwarranted unconstitutional searches. But don’t worry, we are ‘safe’!

        Safe from what exactly? I would feel far safer near the hero Snowdrn than anyone from CIA, NSA, or FBI.

    2. I think this whole story polarizes too much. I think what Snowden did was to expose something that he felt right in doing. He isn’t looking to harm the government and I don’t think the NSA is looking to harm the general public.

      In this age of terrorism, one must learn to stay ahead of the enemy and being able to intercept and monitor electronic communications is key.

      How else can the U.S. defend against terror networks or countries like China that are actively looking on how to disrupt American telecommunications and technology?

      I think the U.S. should give Snowden a full pardon and learn how to institute its programs better.

    3. Having nothing to hide is not the issue.

      The issue is that what you, or we, do is not the Governments business. We are allowed to do any legal thing we like and they don’t even have a right to know. They don’t have a right to infiltrate our organizations, they don’t have a right to know who we talk to, they don’t have a right to know which library books we read and they don’t have a right to know which web sites we visit (neither does Google).

      These freedoms are as much a Constitutional right as those guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Yet we get all pissy if the Government even wants to make sure we’re not a felon before we buy a gun. And the same people who send their money to the NRA to protect gun marketing get all crazy every time the ACLU tries to protect the rest of the rights in the Constitution. I guess prying a court filing from ones cold dead hands just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      The point is that the Government does things in secret, sometimes for good reason. Keeping the secret activities in check and legal is hard and the Congress clearly isn’t up to the task. The actions of people like Snowden are necessary to inform the American people so we have the knowledge required to demand Congress get off their overpaid asses and do their jobs.

      Please consider this. While you may not be doing anything that you want to keep from the Government of today, you never know about the Government of tomorrow.

  1. Why does it matter what the polls say?

    Polls just tell us what the people think. The president, congress and the NSA aren’t accountable to the American people anymore.

    1. Not only they are not accountable any more, they are persecuting whistle-blowers and keeping them as political prisoners.

      The guy who disclosed torture practices is now in jail. But those authorities who committed illegal, criminal (both according to domestic and international law, which has higher power) actions — torture — are free.

      Horrid practices of illegal Iraq war were disclosed by Bradley Manning, and he was subjected to torture for almost nine months (it was solitary confinement, no clothes, sleep deprivation at nights with lights turned on, he was forced to be naked and observed for 24/7, and even glasses were taken away), and kept for three years in jail without a trial, and now accused of espionage even though Manning obviously never shared any secrets with foreign intelligence agencies, nor there was any actual harm from his actions. Now judge has forbid evidence of lack of harm, as well as evidence for his motives. This all is done to jail him for life.

      Edward Snowden faces the same fate if he will be caught by the authorities. He will be another political prisoner for life.

      Remember the definition of whistle-blower: it is a person who uncovers illegal actions of the government. There is protection for such cases, but, of course, the government abuses its power and punishes the whistle-blowers, and not those among themselves who commit the crimes.

      Both Manning and Snowden are accused of sharing information with Al Qaeda by leaking it through Wikileaks or Guardian/Washington Post. Al Qaeda has Internet, you know? This is how it is “espionage” and this is how it is going to be not just few years for the leaks per se, but a life sentence.

      The three examples I mentioned are purely abusive regime practices. And USA, unfortunately, became Orwellian, totalitarian regime.

      1. The US government now has the constitution printed on their toilet paper rolls. It’s disgusting that this country has become. Bin Ladin won and we have lost.

  2. At least its better than going to war and spending trillions of dollars… for what?

    Osama once said he was going to win the war by bankrupting america, and he nearly has done that, look at our deficit now, all in the name of war on terror.

    1. Ignorance always has a way of revealing itself during discussions like this.

      The US government has been engaged in deficit spending since LBJ’s “War on Poverty”. Social exceeds defense spending since then, to accomplish what? There are more people collecting welfare in Chicago and Detroit than there are people working. Nationally the percent of people living “in poverty” is higher today than in 1963, the year before LBJ took office.
      Our current economic state is the result of Congress forcing lending to those that didn’t otherwise qualify (Community Reinvestment Act 1998), and now Obama’s Healthcare system is destined to quickly exceed defense spending.
      Osama and his ilk aren’t going to bankrupt the US anymore than Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIIGS). It will be the spending practices of a liberal dominated government that does it.

      1. Actually, deficit spending goes further back than LBJ. The criminal Democrat FDR put us in the hole with his New Deal and then the outrageous War on Hitler. The liberals will be the end of Amerika as we’d like to believe it ever existed.

        1. Actually, deficit spending goes further back than FDR. Alexander Hamilton believed that deficit spending by getting loans from other countries would protect the fledgling USA because then the countries that government owed money to would have incentive to help it remain intact. He believed a lot of other things, too.

  3. I don’t mind the spying if it is for good reason as a whole. We have terrorists that are going to use technology as a means to communicate, organize, and get the info they need to carry out their plans. So for defense, we have to keep up inside that technology. If spying saves thousands or even hundreds of lives due to early detection of plots I don’t care if they do it. If security personnel read my boring eMails, chats, and whatever, I’m OK with that because I’m more concerned with the big picture and am certain I have nothing of interest to them. If me giving up a bit of privacy saves lives, go for it. BUT I wouldn’t want just any employee of these companies having access to the info. I’m sure there are trigger words and targeted people anyway, doubtful each correspondence isn’t studied with a microscope.

    With that opinion said, I have to add that with all their spying, the Government Security doesn’t seem to be using the info they have gathered intelligently. As with the Boston tragedy. They had info but did not follow up with what they had.

    1. So you would throw away our democracy for the sake of saving a few hundred, or a few thousand lives?

      That’s not the America I knew.

      Terrorism isn’t an existential threat to democracy. An unaccountable government is by definition the end of democracy.

      1. Devil’s Advocate–
        Put to you, if “saving the democracy” meant your family had to die but you could live, would you still be in favor of saving it _at all costs_? What would be an acceptable cost in lives to maintaining democracy? Up to, say, half the population?

        1. If I put my family before our democracy, I’d be the traitor.

          Why don’t we ask the founding fathers if they would put their families lives at risk for a democratic future?

          We didn’t throw away everything to defend ourselves against the Soviet Union, and they really were an existential threat. Terrorism is just that, terror. They can cause damage and misery to a few hundred or a few thousand. Only we can dismantle “America” — and sadly that’s exactly what we’ve done.

          1. The founders did not give us a “Democracy”, they gave us a “Constitutional Republic”. There is a HUGE difference between the two. Under a Democracy, the attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, without restraint or regard to consequence. Under a Constitutional Republic, the attitude toward law is the administration of justice in accord with fixed principles and established evidence, with a strict regard to consequences. Unfortunately, an apathetic (or is it pathetic) citizenry surrendered our Republic decades ago.

          2. “We didn’t throw away everything to defend ourselves against the Soviet Union”

            So, empirically, how many lives should be expected to be lost in the name of democracy? Half? 75%

            “Only we can dismantle “America” — and sadly that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
            Sooo, I don’t have to pay taxes, I won’t be called up for jury duty and no more elections? If not, then which part of democracy did we dismantle?

            1. How many lives were lost in the revolution to establish the country in the first place? In WWII?

              It’s worth at least that many lives.

      2. I agree with Devil’s Advocate, and like I said, if some from National Security need to check, fine, but access to the info should be tight, not open to a multitude of lower level employees.

      1. That is a clever retort, but that extreme is obviously not the same comparison. I said I didn’t expect EVERYONE to have access to info as in your reply, but if trigger words are followed up on by upper authorized security people who have special government clearance I have no problem with that at all.

  4. As for the MDN take and quote from Ben Franklin. Yes that’s a great flashy quote to throw around until it’s YOUR child, brother, wife, best friend, etc. that is being lowered into the grave. Then you’d be crying “Why didn’t use every means possible that we obviously have access to in 2013 to investigate and stop this terror plot before it became a killing zone!”

    1. We can’t stop terrorism any more than we can stop theft or murder. Even if these measures could successfully prevent attacks, we can’t throw away our founding principles for that small amount of additional safety.

        1. America’s own corporations make all terrorists added together look like a bunch of sunday-school picnickers. The tobacco industry alone has KNOWINGLY killed astronomically more Americans than all acts of terror combined — and continues to do so every month. How many people are killed by how many other companies producing various poisonous or dangerous products? Talk about misdirected effort.

            1. Nothing like being sarcastic about something a person didn’t say.
              No, not “do nothing”. But what I AM saying is to get some perspective and stop spending such astronomical amounts of money to supposedly stop the relatively tiny number of deaths due to terrorism. Get that spending into PROPORTION and do much more to save all the enormously greater number of people being killed EVERY MONTH by American corporations.

        2. 1. By what means? Sounds like it wasn’t through these programs. Just good old-fashioned police work.

          2. If we have to give up our basic principles to save a few dozen people now and then, it’s not worth it.

          3. What about Boston???

          1. 1. Your opinion of it.

            2. If it is your own child, spouse, or parent killed let’s still see if your spouting it’s not worth it.

            3. I stated elsewhere here that they were idiots in the Boston case.

  5. I’m with MDN and Ben Franklin on this. Beginning with the lack of outrage over the warrantless wiretapping in the Bush administration, I believe that the American people have failed to exercise proper control of their government’s surveillance programs. If the NSA can spy on the activities of Americans – like the church police do the ordinary citizens of Iran – then the terrorists have won.

    1. And was approved and continued by Obama.
      So with 2 different Presidents allowing this, each one of opposing sides, doesn’t that make some of you think that maybe the bigger picture they are privileged see due to their high security status means this level of spying involvement in communication access is necessary for producing the best National Safety? Not talking about abuse of it they need to run it right and concentrate on terrorism plots that we know are bubbling up here.

  6. You have to wonder what personal info Snowden has. These days seems n one cares about the mores and ethics of a politician unless it is a Republican who transgresses. Still wonder why Spitzer wasn’t prosecuted for his crimes. Violation of the Mann act I believe is a federal crime, I believe.

  7. And to think I was worried! Now that we all know where a majority of its citizens, I’m sure the representational democratic government of the United States is going to quickly and efficiently fulfill the will of the people!

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