Voters think the National Security Agency surveillance program is more likely to hurt than protect law-abiding Americans. They are also concerned the agency can’t keep its own secrets secret.
That’s according to a Fox News poll released Thursday -- a day after the U.S. House voted down legislation that would have stopped the NSA from collecting the phone records of millions of Americans.
By a 47-41 percent margin, more voters think the government’s electronic surveillance program does more to hurt Americans by using their private info improperly than it does to help track down terrorists and protect Americans.
The number of Democrats who believe the NSA’s efforts are more likely to help catch terrorists (52 percent) is matched by the number of Republicans who think it will hurt everyday Americans (52 percent). More than 7 in 10 voters who are part of the Tea Party movement say the tracking is more likely to hurt Americans (72 percent).
In May a government contractor named Edward Snowden gave classified details about the previously secret NSA surveillance system to two newspapers. Snowden’s leak did more than expose the government’s power to collect private information on Americans. By walking out the NSA’s front door with some of its most important secrets, the contractor also revealed that the spy agency had serious security problems of own.
The poll asks voters which of those issues concerns them more: 30 percent say the NSA’s vast power to peek into their lives, while over half -- 52 percent -- say the agency’s inability to guard the nation’s secrets.
Democrats (56 percent) and Republicans (50 percent) agree the greater concern is the security agency’s incompetence.
As for Snowden, who has been in a Moscow airport waiting for a country to take him since June 23, twice as many voters disapprove (60 percent) as approve (31 percent) of him disclosure of NSA information.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham thinks the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 winter Olympics in Russia if Snowden is granted asylum there. Just 17 percent of voters like the idea of sitting out the games. Most disagree (75 percent), including more than 7 in 10 independents (79 percent), Republicans (74 percent) and Democrats (72 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,017 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from July 21 to July 23. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.