Contrary to the opinion of the nation's political establishment, most Americans see NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor.
The results of a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that 55 percent of American voters regard Snowden as more of a whistle-blower, while 34 percent see him as more of a traitor.
Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA, made headlines last month by revealing details regarding controversial data gathering programs by U.S. intelligence agencies.
In documents leaked to the Guardian and the Washington Post, Snowden revealed that the U.S. government has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans and tapping directly into the central servers of several leading internet companies.
Quinnipiac noted that almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower. The lone exception is black voters, who are split.
The poll also showed a massive shift in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti- terrorism efforts.
Forty-five percent of voters now say the government's anti-terrorism policies have gone too far in restricting the average person's civil liberties, while 40 percent said the policies have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country.
The latest results reflect a reversal from a Quinnipiac survey conducted in January of 2010, when voters said 63 percent to 25 percent that the government's anti-terrorism policies did not go far enough.
While there is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts, with men more likely to say the policies have gone too far, Quinnipiac said there is little difference among Democrats and Republicans.
Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said, "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.
Reflecting Americans' complicated views on anti-terrorism efforts, majorities say the government's phone-scanning program is "necessary to keep Americans safe" but also say it is "too much intrusion into Americans' personal privacy."
The Quinnipiac survey of 2,014 registered voters was conducted June 28th through July 8th and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
by RTT Staff Writer
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