On Thursday, Harris Interactive released results from a poll conducted in the second week of February that will likely not receive much press attention. The headline of this survey read “Majority of U.S. Adults Feel President is Justified in Authorizing Wiretaps Without Court Approval to Monitor Suspected Terrorists.” The summary of Harris’s findings: “Although almost half (47%) of U.S. adults are not familiar with the National Security Agency program that involves monitoring communications of people in the United States suspected of having ties with terrorist organizations, a clear majority (69%) of U.S. adults believe that President Bush is sometimes or often justified in authorizing wiretaps without court authorization.”
Here are some of the survey’s key findings:
- "Nonetheless, the president can take some consolation in the fact that almost seven in 10 (68%) adults think that he is justified in authorizing wiretaps without court authorization. A substantial 43 percent think the president is often justified, with another quarter (25%) saying that he is sometimes justified. Less than one-third (31%) say that the president is not justified, with 13 percent saying he is rarely justified and 18 percent saying he is never justified."
- "As one might expect, most Republicans (92%) say that the president is either often (67%) or sometimes (25%) justified in authorizing wiretaps without court authorization. Independents also support the president on this issue, with seven in 10 (70%) saying he is justified. However, what is perhaps most surprising is that Democrats appear to be split on this issue, with half (50%) saying he is justified and half (49%) saying he is not justified."
- "Among adults who are familiar with the NSA program, 48 percent say that the president is often justified, and another 21 percent say he is sometimes justified. The results are similar for those who are not familiar with the program, though those who say the president is often justified is 10 percentage points lower at 38 percent, and those who say he is sometimes justified is nine percentage points higher at 30 percent."
Once again, it appears that Americans don’t share the outrage concerning this issue demonstrated by the antique press since The New York Times first revealed the existence of this terrorist surveillance program in December.