Most Americans say the government collects what is actually being said in phone calls and emails – and not just ‘metadata.’ Nevertheless, 50% approve of the surveillance program, while 44% disapprove.
Young people are more likely than other age groups to think that the NSA leak serves the public interest and are divided over whether Snowden should be prosecuted.
56% of Americans say the NSA’s monitoring of the phone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable anti-terror tactic. Americans have supported government efforts to investigate terrorist threats, even at the expense of personal privacy, since 2006.
Since 9/11, Americans generally have valued protection from terrorism over civil liberties, yet they also have expressed concerns over government overreach and intrusions on their personal privacy.
In his address Thursday on U.S. counterterrorism policy, President Obama defended the use of drones, which has the support of the U.S. public but is strongly opposed abroad.
More Americans favor than oppose the U.S. and its allies taking military action against Syria, if it is confirmed that Syria used chemical weapons against anti-government groups.
The Boston Marathon bombings last week attracted broad public interest, with 63% of Americans saying they followed the news very closely. The incident appeared to confirm the public’s long-held belief that occasional terrorist acts are to be expected.
While the public is divided over whether North Korea is willing and capable of following through on its threats against the United States, most Americans say the U.S. should take the threats very seriously.
The public is paying far closer attention to news about the gun control debate than news about threats from North Korea or the debate over immigration policy.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed John Brennan to be the new director of the CIA after several senators took part in a filibuster focusing on the administration's drone strategy. A majority of Americans support drone strikes against suspected terrorist targets abroad, but some (31%) express concerns are about the legality of the program.