TIME/CNN Poll Shows Increasing Number Of Americans Won't Give Up Civil Liberties To Fight Terrorism

from the the-government-can't-give-you-safety,-but-it-can-take-your-rights dept

When discussing NYPD Police Chief Ray Kelly’s assertion that “privacy is off the table” as a result of the Boston bombing, I mentioned I hadn’t heard any public outcry demanding the government and law enforcement step in and do something (i.e., curtail civil liberties) in response to the tragedy. The responses we were seeing seemed to be nothing more than legislators and law enforcement officials pushing their own agendas.

This isn’t just me not hearing what I don’t want to hear. There’s actual data available that explains the lack of concerned noises from Americans. A CNN/TIME poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans aren’t interested in sacrificing rights to combat terrorism.

When given a choice, 61 percent of Americans say they are more concerned about the government enacting new anti-terrorism policies that restrict civil liberties, compared to 31 percent who say they are more concerned about the government failing to enact strong new anti-terrorism policies.

This is a vast improvement over 1996, when a post-Atlanta Olympics bombing poll showed only 23% opposed giving up freedom in exchange for fighting terrorism.

Breaking it down further, the poll also shows a bit of split along party lines. Self-identified Democrats are most likely to put their faith in government/law enforcement to make the U.S. “safer” by curtailing freedoms (51%). Republicans are less likely to favor this exchange (41%). For independents, less than a third (32%) are willing to give up some freedom to combat terrorism.

There is a bit of bad news contained within this generally positive indicator that Americans are less willing to give up something of theirs in exchange for the vagaries of “safety.” The percentage of respondents who support additional surveillance in public areas has increased to 81% from 63% the week after the 9/11 attacks. On the other hand, there’s a growing reluctance among Americans to allow the government to expand its surveillance efforts to cover more private venues, like email or cell phones. Only 38% approve of these efforts, down from 54% after 9/11.

Now, when legislators and law enforcement reps make strides towards reducing civil liberties, they do have some support. Those over the age of 50 (across all political parties) are most likely to support a loss of freedom (50%, as compared to only 34% for those under 50). Tellingly, this is pretty much the same demographic that feels video games are a bigger “safety threat” than guns (72% of respondents over the age of 45).

Unfortunately for the under-50 crowd, the over-50 demographic is historially the most active at the polls. If this perception of widespread support for invasive policies and legislation is going to change, the under-50 demographic is going to need to do a whole lot more voting. If not, these politicians are going to be able to truthfully say they have support for these policies — at least, the only support that matters: die-hard voters.

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Comments on “TIME/CNN Poll Shows Increasing Number Of Americans Won't Give Up Civil Liberties To Fight Terrorism”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Either I’m an odd ball or their poll ain’t worth a hoot for sample. I’m a senior and I can tell you, I don’t like one bit all this prying into stuff by the government. I strongly dislike all their security theater. I sure don’t believe by any means we are safer for all their crap. I also strongly value my privacy.

Big brother has gotten too big for it’s britches.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was a fixin’ to say me too is senior like, until i read your post and thought to myself 50/50 be the odds. At that point I remembered feeling that way as I read the article. It’s the same problem as the citizenry dividing apx. 50/50 along the phony political party lines.

I am a senior but that has nothing to do with my political views or my views on the safety of our country from a minuscule terrorist threat, unless you count the fact that the longer I inhabit this planet the more cynical I become of institutional motives, be they political or business institutions.

Windy I know, but that’s what you get when your old and can’t sleep. Statistics and polling are nothing but a game anyway. The stats themselves can be massaged in many ways and the questions asked and how they are asked are the first bit of massaging, then katie bar the door when the stat math takes over.

Landpaddle (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Augh, stop saying Big Brother!! While I agree with your post, that phrase has been so overused by tin-foil hat nutjobs and teenagers that it’s completely lost credibility.

As for the article above – well, good! Glad to see people are growing conscious of privacy concerns. If the government had real validity in their claims, surely someone would explain the snooping process in more detail to the U.S. citizenry, or at least provide a smidgen of transparency beyond the current state of affairs.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Increasing Number Of Americans Won’t Give Up Civil Liberties To Fight Terrorism”

They must be terrorists then.
They will be brought to justice, even if the laws must be broken to do so.

btw … when were our civil rights ever “on the table” anyway? I do not recall any negotiations, nor do I recall being given anything in return for what has been taken.
Soon Bloomberg’s private army will be goose stepping through Times Square gleefully stopping and frisking to their hearts content, because – who needs laws anyway?

horse with no name says:


If you asked them same people if they wanted the government to not investigate potential terrorists because they might have to pry, most people would tell them to go in guns blazing.

Polls can be made to say almost anything you want. What was the exact question used, and how did it vary from previous surveys?

Anonymous Coward says:

29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL] by Connor Sheets, International Business Times, May 5, 2013

A major segment of the American voting public is of the belief that an armed rebellion to protect their freedoms may be needed in the near future, according to a startling new poll.

The poll, conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind and released Wednesday, found that 29 percent of registered voters agree with the assertion that “in the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties,” while another 5 percent said they were undecided on the question.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

In related news – 29% of Americans are mental

Political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

In the twentieth century, systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place in the Soviet Union. Psychiatry was used as a tool during the reign of Leonid Brezhnev to eliminate political opponents (“dissidents”) who openly expressed views that contradicted official dogma. The term “philosophical intoxication” was widely used to diagnose mental disorders in cases where people disagreed with leaders?.?.?.?.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

black on white, it’s been pretty clearly laid out that this govt is the lackey of gigantic corporations that have the power to make the individuals that compose government extremely filthy wealthy. You can still eat, for now, so maybe you don’t see the need. But I don’t doubt armed revolution will happen given enough time, unless things change.

DCX2 says:

Re: 29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

I have a hunch that most of that 29% who feel armed revolution is necessary are only interested in protecting the second amendment from Democrats. Wait until we have a Republican president and I bet this number goes way down.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

For me its not First Second or any Amendment, i am against infringement of any of the Amendments by the Government, so until they have a convention and change them, they can not, and should not be violated (and if they are violated there needs to be responsiblility placed on the violators…)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: 29% Of Americans Believe Armed Revolution May Be Needed [POLL]

Actually, it’s 29% think revolution may be needed, not necessarily is needed. I would be in the “may be” camp, but not the “is” camp. I think the danger is there, but the jury is still out.

My opinion could not be less related to second amendment issues — about which I am pretty much completely agnostic — and is not partisan.

Rather, it’s about the question of whether or not we can regain control over our government. I think there’s still a chance, but I grow increasingly pessimistic about it over time.

The Real Michael says:

Frankly, I don’t believe a single poll as conducted by mainstream media. They can poll whoever they choose to and fiddle with the results and you’d be none the wiser. Neither I nor anyone else that I know of has ever been polled in such regard, and besides, our civil liberties are not up for grabs. Besides, one can observe how people think just by looking at posted responses on internet forums: the overwhelming majority are opposed to any breach of civil liberty or violation of privacy. The one thing that seperates America from other countries is supposed to be our freedoms, not merely our borders.

Rick Smith (profile) says:

Poll is too late....

That ship has already left the port and has no return voyage, ever.

America’s had its short window of partisan cooperation for the twenty-first century; which was used to take away said rights. Check back again in a 75 to 100 year and maybe they will consent working together again.

Now that they have have the right monitor you with no oversight (public at least, I’m sure there a hidden structure in there somewhere), we’ll get more reasons why they can’t rescind the bad laws they made than there are pages in the IRS tax code.

Rocco Maglio (profile) says:

How about social safety net?

What liberties are you willing to give up for a social safety net? Do you have the right not to purchase health insurance? Can you choose to smoke a cigarette? Do you have the right to drink a large soda? These are rights you may be giving up for universal health insurance not tied to risk. Our current health care costs are becoming tied to income not to risk, so there is no financial incentive for consumers to make good choices. To lower cost the government will either ban things it believes raises costs or heavily tax them.

Greg Burton says:

Civil Liberties vs. Fighting Terrorism

Hmm, looks like that whole 9/11 (inside job) PATRIOT Act, NSA spying, eternal wars of pillage, torture, color-coded alert, troops on the streets-global gulag, economic implosion, jobless, homeless, Gulf oil spill, Fukushima planet killing thingee is getting a bit long in the tooth?

FarSide (profile) says:

It's a little late

On the other hand, there’s a growing reluctance among Americans to allow the government to expand its surveillance efforts to cover more private venues, like email or cell phones.

Washington Post had a huge expose a couple years ago about govt secrecy state, including how trillions of intercepted communications are stored every DAY.

Now we have FBI counter-terroism agent saying that conversations are recorded:

“No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”

Not sure how much more they can expand it…

DCX2 says:

Interesting party breakdown

I bet the reason more D are willing to give up freedom is because the man in the oval office allegedly is allegedly a D. I bet if there was an R in power, that the results would be flipped, and more R would be willing to give up freedoms.

That’s the problem with the short sighted electorate. They never understand that whatever power they vest in their current trusted leader will similarly be vested in the next leader that they abhor. It’s best to keep the party most closely aligned with your interests in check or you will regret it in 4-8 years. The progressives who are silent now are going to freak out when an R becomes president and starts exercising those powers of targeted killing, indefinite detention, and drones…

special-interesting (profile) says:

Its nice to see that basic constitutional values still enter the daily radar scope for the average person at least in some level. Long way to go.

The young crowd is as wet behind the ears as ever. The ?nothing can hurt me I’m an American? syndrome infects the young mostly during the school years.

The Time/CNN group may not be noted for journalistic perfection and wonder if the questions used were neutral. Even when reading them its hard to tell without some professional physiological analysis.

Government officials have a tendency to ignore what is unpleasant to their ears and hype up the little bits/incidences that support their agenda. Unless this pols results start to influence the ballot box its only just a good sign.

out_of_the_blue says:

This poll is goddamn bullshit there is no way that 31 percent of people would give up rights in the name of terrorism.

My guess is this poll was meant to be sent out to the 1 percent but somehow only 31 percent of the people they sent it to were actually part of the 1 percent.

If this went to the 99 percent the results would have been not a goddamn one of us are willing to give up our rights no matter the case.

Anonymous Coward says:

this is pretty much the same demographic that feels video games are a bigger “safety threat” than guns (72% of respondents over the age of 45).

Yeah, and their parents thought their rock music was going to ruin values and destroy families yadayada. And I’m sure I’ll hate {insert fashin/fad ten years from now} when my kids ll do it. Boohoo.

anonymous coward (2) says:

Liberty vs. Security

I concur with AC1. No one ever polled me!

I am 67 and a retired cop. I HATE the way this country has moved towards removing free speech (the teenager who rapped about ‘terrorism’ being arrested), increased monitoring (the FBI fellow who acknowledges the government is already collecting all e-mails and phone calls), and overall knee-jerk reactions to extremely minor offenses (nearly any school in the news.)

I have 9 guns in my house and play FPS (first person shooters) all the time. Iv’e never fired a gun off a range and am (reasonably) polite on-line. I certainly do not think gun ownership is inherently bad/unsafe or that ‘video games’ are ” a bigger “safety threat” than guns.”

ColoringBook.com (user link) says:

Terrorists are living among us every day.

The 911 Vol. II The True Faces of Evil – Terror, parental guidance is suggested. It is about Good vs. Evil. There is no fantasy in this book. Some people in America refuse to believe the terror that exists, sometimes literally next door. To a terrorist, this is a way of life and they do not consider themselves to be radicals, they consider themselves as soldiers. Current examples of modern evil are the Radical Islamic Muslim Tsarnaev brothers,Tamerlan and Dzhokhar one of which became a US Citizen on 9/11/2012

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