Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poll shows “Massive Swing” In Public View Of Terror/Liberty Trade Off

Majority of Americans see Snowden as hero, despite relentless government and media attacks

Steve Watson
July 10, 2013

A new scientific poll out this week finds that former NSA leaker Edward Snowden is viewed by the majority of Americans in a positive light as a whistleblower, and not a “traitor”, as the mainstream media and government officials would have it.

The poll from Quinnipiac, also reveals that a plurality of registered voters believe that government anti-terrorism programs have gone too far in stripping away liberties.

When given the two options, 55% of poll respondents said that they believed Snowden to be a “whistleblower”, while only 34% see him as a “traitor.”

The terms were used as an acknowledgement of the media talking point that has been repeated again and again since Snowden fled the US to Moscow, from where he is still seeking political asylum.

The poll found that the description of Snowden as a whistle-blower and not a traitor was the majority opinion in practically every demographic of voter, regardless of party, gender, income, education or age.

Only amongst black voters did more people say they thought Snowden to be a traitor, with the margin at 43% to 42%.

“The verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment,” commented Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute.

Several elected officials, including House Speaker John Boehner, have referred to Snowden as a traitor, and have called for him to be given the harshest possible punishment.

The findings have bolstered the results of similar polls undertaken when the news first broke last month in early June, and underscore the fact that people no longer believe the idea that exposing government surveillance of Americans makes the country less safe.

Perhaps the more telling revelation from the poll is the fact that by a 45-40% margin, voters now believe that the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism efforts.

Those figures represent a monumental reversal from just over three years ago when the public told Quinnipiac by a 63-25 margin that the government didn’t go far enough.

“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.

Put simply, Americans are no longer buying the idea that the threat of terrorism warrants their own government spying on them en mass. Neither do they believe that it is right to punish and demonize anyone who speaks out about it, just as an authoritarian regime would.

The poll also revealed that both Democrats and Republicans were evenly divided on whether government counter-terrorism measures have become excessive. By a margin of 49 percent to 36 percent, independent voters said the government has taken things too far.

“The fact that there is little difference now along party lines about the overall anti-terrorism effort and civil liberties and about Snowden is in itself unusual in a country sharply divided along political lines about almost everything,” Brown said.

“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 added.

In related news, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the Snowden leaks has revealed that Snowden has this week “vehemently denied media claims that he gave classified information to the governments of China or Russia.”

” He also denied assertions that one or both governments had succeeded in ‘draining the contents of his laptops’. ‘I never gave any information to either government, and they never took anything from my laptops,’ he said.”

Greenwald explains how the claim was generated in the media without a shred of evidence, and subsequently spread everywhere as “truth”, being repeatedly cited in an effort to demonize Snowden.

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