In the wake of reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been listening to phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other heads of state, a 56% majority of Americans say it is unacceptable for the U.S. to monitor the phones of allied leaders.
To better understand how the manner in which the government’s surveillance program is described affects public evaluations, the Pew Research Center conducted a question wording experiment.
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.
So far, public interest in a trio of controversies connected to the Obama administration remains limited. Republicans are following the stories much more closely.
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.