07/10/2013 09:01 am ET Updated Jul 10, 2013

National Security Policies Go Too Far In Restricting Civil Liberties: Poll

A plurality of Americans say that counterterrorism policies go too far in restricting civil liberties, revealing a massive change in attitudes since 2010, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed.

Forty-five percent said the government's anti-terrorism efforts go too far in restricting civil liberties, compared to 40 percent saying they did not go far enough. A 2010 poll by the group found that 63 percent felt anti-terrorism policies did not go far enough, while just 25 percent said they went too far.

The numbers suggest that the revelation of the NSA's telephone and Internet spying programs has caused many Americans to change their opinions of the national security state.

Men, by a 54-34 margin, said that policies had gone too far, while women, by a 47-36 margin, said they had not gone far enough, revealing a sizable gender gap.

In the new poll, 55 percent of Americans characterized former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as a whistleblower, while 34 percent deemed him a traitor. Forty-nine percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents said he is a whistleblower.

The survey reveals that the public disagrees with many lawmakers -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who have called the former NSA contractor a traitor. Snowden is believed to be holed up in the transit zone of a Moscow airport after he leaked classified documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post detailing the agency's massive telephone and Internet spying programs.

Nevertheless, other recent surveys have shown that more Americans disapprove than approve of Snowden's actions. A HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 38 percent of Americans thought Snowden had done the wrong thing in leaking the documents, while 33 percent condoned his actions. Twenty-nine percent were unsure. A CNN poll released on June 17 showed that 52 percent disagreed with his actions, and 44 percent agreed.



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