Majority of the Americans Render Edward Snowden a Whistle-Blower, StudyBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Around 55 percent Americans think Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, when compared to 34 percent, who believe he is a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll conducted from June 28 to July 8. The remaining 11 percent did not have an opinion.
Snowden, the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent who is believed to be in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, grabbed headlines when he leaked classified information about the National Security Agency (NSA)'s phone and Internet surveillance programs.
When it comes to black people, their opinions about Snowden were almost divided equally. About 43 percent blacks feel he betrayed the country and 42 percent claimed that he leaked the contents of classified documents.
Approximately 2,014 registered voters participated in the survey. The survey, which also studied Americans' perceptions about government's counter-terrorism activities, revealed that 45 percent of the civilians think that their freedom was encroached; on the other hand, 40 percent state that their civil liberties were not restricted.
The same study conducted on government's anti-terrorism efforts in January 2010 showed complete opposite results. At the time, 63 percent felt, the government did not curb their civilian liberties, in comparison to 25 percent who differed with the majority.
"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, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"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. Moreover, the verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation's political establishment," he added.
The survey also revealed that 51 percent voters agree with the phone-surveillance programs than 45 percent who oppose them; 54 percent believe that the programs are 'necessary to keep Americans safe,' while 44 percent say that the program 'is too much intrusion into Americans' personal privacy.'
"Americans' views on anti-terrorism efforts are complicated," Brown said. "They see the threat from terrorism as real and worth defending against, but they have a sense that their privacy is being invaded and they are not happy about it at all."