According to a new Zogby poll: The President's vigorous defense of an anti-terror surveillance program may be a hard sell to a public obsessed with privacy and civil liberties, a new Zogby Interactive poll suggests. The survey of 13,456 likely voters finds Americans largely unwilling to surrender civil liberties -- even if it's to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks -- a significant departure from their views in the months immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks. Even routine security measures, like random searches of bags, purses, and other packages, were opposed by half (50%) of respondents in the survey. Other measures fared worse. Just 37% would be willing to allow random searches of their cars -- a dramatic drop in support compared to a survey conducted by Zogby International in December, 2001. Support for regular roadblocks to facilitate such searches was even lower, with just one-third of voters (33%) in favor. Four years ago, 59% backed such measures. Two sensitive privacy issues associated with the President's communications surveillance program, however, scored worst of all. Just 28% are willing to allow their telephone conversations to be monitored, and 25% favor allowing random searches of mail.
Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).