Poll: Americans More Concerned About Civil Liberties In Wake Of Boston Bombing

Two weeks after the Boston Marathon terror attacks, the Americans people are far more concerned about new government limits on civil liberties than the need for new law enforcement measures to prevent future attacks.

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Homeland Insecurity
Photo-Illustration by Ji Lee for TIME. Statue of Liberty: Tetra Images / Getty Images, Cameras: iStockphoto, Background: Martin Lladó

Two weeks after the Boston Marathon terror attacks, the American people are far more concerned about new government limits on civil liberties than the need for new law enforcement measures to prevent future attacks, according to a new TIME/CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday.

When given a choice, 61 percent of Americans say they are more concerned about the government enacting new anti-terrorism policies that restrict civil liberties, compared to 31 percent who say they are more concerned about the government failing to enact strong new anti-terrorism policies.

The poll comes at a time when the Boston bombings, which killed three and maimed dozens, has reignited the debate over the unresolved tensions between civil liberties and our security, a topic that is the subject of TIME Magazine’s cover story this week. As Massimo Calabresi and Michael Crowley report, Tamerlan Tsarnaev exhibited a classic pattern of radicalization that might have been spotted through more intrusive surveillance of his online and religious activities. But although new guidelines expanded the FBI‘s counterterrorism powers in 2011, they also limited the bureau’s ability to conduct surveillance on mosques like the one where Tamerlan had two public outbursts suggesting the extent of his religious radicalism.

(PHOTOS: Images: Joy and Relief in Boston After Bombing Suspect’s Arrest)

The TIME/CNN/ORC poll, which was conducted to coincide with the cover story release, found that Americans are becoming more resigned to the reality that future terrorist attacks will occur on the homeland. Only 32% of Americans believe that the U.S. government can prevent all major attacks, down from an average of 40% in 2011 and 41% in 2006.  That said, only 27% of Americans said they are less likely to attend large public events in the future because of fears of terror attacks, a number roughly on par with polls taken after the Atlanta Olympics bombing in 1996.

Concerns about government encroachment on civil liberties, however, have grown in recent years, despite the Boston attacks. When asked if they would be willing to give up some civil liberties if that were necessary to curb terrorism, 49% of Americans said they were not willing, compared to 40% who were willing. A poll by the Los Angeles Times in 1996 after the Atlanta Olympics bombing asked the same question, and found resistance from only 23% of the country.

But popular opinion varies significantly about specific law enforcement techniques to track and detect terrorists. Expanding camera surveillance on streets and in public places draws the support of 81 percent of Americans, up from a 70 percent in a 2006 Harris Interactive poll and 63 percent in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Surveillance cameras proved to be a pivotal law enforcement resource toward identifying and hunting down the perpetrators of the Boston attack. But expanding government monitoring of cell phones and email has just 38 percent in favor and 59 percent opposed — down from 52 percent in favor in the 2006 poll and 54 percent in favor after 9/11. The nation is more evenly split on the question of law enforcement monitoring online chat rooms and forums, with 55% saying they would support increased efforts and 42% saying they would oppose.

But while Americans are increasingly amenable to passive surveillance efforts, including cameras and facial recognition, they are growing more opposed to expanded monitoring of cell phones and email and are more concerned about law enforcement monitoring Internet chat rooms. A plurality, 49 percent, are unwilling to give up civil liberties even if deemed necessary to curb terrorism in the United States — 40 percent say they are willing, and 9 percent day it depends.

In this week’s magazine, Calabresi and Crowley reveal new details about the Obama administration’s domestic anti-terror policies:

  • In Oct. 2011, Obama’s Justice Department issued new restrictions on FBI counterterrorism work in mosques. Under the new rules, agents could no longer enter a religious organization without special new approval. Moreover, according to still-classified sections of the new rules confirmed by TIME, any plan to go undercover in a church or mosque—a tactic employed by the bureau after September 11, 2001—would now need special approval from a newly established oversight body at Department of Justice, the Sensitive Operations Review Committee (SORC).
  • The new restrictions came as the administration moved towards greater cooperation with religious groups. “You are actually better able to protect our security if you can enlist mosques and Muslim communities as our partners,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor tells TIME.

The poll surveyed 606 adult Americans by telephone on April 30, 2013 and has a sampling error of ± 4 percentage points.

46 comments
BillMears
BillMears

Google the name "Emad Salem" for an education about how  "terrorism" really works in the New Improved Amerika.

GroverWatrous
GroverWatrous

Unfinished state, and unsuccessful systems are caught in the planetary limb that interferes with the European project in the logic of including those areas that already belong to the European territorial structure. 

Must be articulate strong anti-European stance in order to have a chance to connect all the elements into a meaningful whole. For example., it turns out that Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece are unfinished state, unlike Germany, Great Britain, Sweden., which are top noch. It is an economy power, which by itself is not the superiority of organization and construction of the state. This superiority comes from forcing those state mechanisms in the economic purpose of achieving profit and capitalist expansion.

But the point is that the state system is not based on economics, but the other way around. Organization of the state is based on the idea of ​​what is good, just, true, free. When the idea is its set, its legality, content, such that recognizes itself, its proper implementation, in the world of production of goods and services, goods and cash flows, the singularity of property, then we have a capitalist state in which the principle of freedom remains at the level of abstract individuality. This means that it is understood solely by its point of singularity, which it defines as excluding relation to the other, as to the knowledge of the moment of generality that it also constitutes - not mature, or it remains clouded. This side developed communism, but we will not talk about that.

Everything is anxious to determine what is the individuality and its freedom. And now we have capitalism with its exclusionary attitude; individual and the state can˙t reach equality, mutual respect with other individuals or states, because excluding relation to other is just constitutive for them. They are nothing more than that relation.

And now Germany and other northerners oppressed less developed economically southerners; course within the states they oppressed, more or less, immigrants, low-class, and so on. Northerners also somebody oppress, it is America. Telling them what to do and how, when someone is not listening there is a beating. Let's not mention examples, as they undergo the Western statesmen who dare to go to visit Fidel Castro and practice socialism, and what methods are available when the communists in a western country too their heads, for example in Italy.

In capitalism, everyone is at the same time on one oppressor and oppressed on the other side. The cause is that the abstract individualism of both the individual and the state can not come to independence, because it does not know the moment of generality. So it is not only opposed to the other from him but also depend on. Capitalist is dependent on workers and vice versa. The same applies to the states. European countries, although they are subordinated - need big boss. Condition, a situation in which both individuals were equal and mutually respected in the overall integrity of its person and its liberty will remain unknown to the West. Thus we see that the rule of the principles of abstract particulars of "free world" has in itself still a problem unsurmounted ancient contrast of lordship and bondage. The instability of this world rests in the fact that he basically does have the principle of liberty, that is, also the principle of universality, equality, and so on., but fails to reconcile it with other moment of individual freedom - the principle of singularity, which is that world's leading and which is the same way as the principle of universality for freedom is constitutive. From there, the tension, there crumbling, hence the crisis. This world is torn apart in itself.

Who oppresses America? Is it the top of the chain and hierarchy? Does the principle of capitalism that America finally moves from exclusionary relationships to each other, necessarily, except in relation to himself. It certainly was. However, someone in a certain, although much milder way almost oppressive and does not respect even America. We know that it is Israel, according to which America shows weakness and condescending astonishing. The reason for that is not the power of the Israeli economy, or the military, and as we can see in this example, that reality is not what rules, but there is a principle, the idea of the West that in Israel is carried out more consistently and more extreme. That is its superiority.

America and Israel are so deeply involved in the paradoxical relationship, where the all-powerful protector of big brother humbly obey his ward, that you might think that there comes a kind of internal conflict. Internal conflict is the essence, but as it is a two-state here is not its stage. Israel appears to be perhaps the greatest master. He does not humiliate, except in a moral sense. He still can not impart lessons on human rights, those who have the make-up can still: this is the price going to the extreme. Everything has a price to different payment method.

subscriber
subscriber

It was Ben Franklin, I think, who accurately observed that anyone prepared to give up liberty -- read privacy --in exchange for security is deserving of neither.

AmberDru
AmberDru

Isn't it obvious we are not doing an adequate job of vetting our current "immigrants" who go through the legal channels. Once someone is on the terrorist watch list can't we deport them?  What horrors await us if S744 - the latest mass illegal alien amnesty goes through? There will be no in-person interview- just like there isn't for the DACAs.  We need to make our immigration laws benefit us- not hurt us.

MichaelHale
MichaelHale

The number stated who supposedly support more surveillance cameras on the street is very suspect to me. Americans never agree on anything that much... 70% is even pushing it...

fitty_three
fitty_three

Zeka J Miller:

Would you PLEASE republish the poll document in the window - in English?

fitty_three
fitty_three

Statists seem to feel that the individual states should have more rights than the federal government.  There are a lot of flaws in that reasoning:

* Most cameras are maintained by local governments, in many cases in violation of the Constitution

* Most data collection is not by the federal government, it's by commercial interests, sanctioned by the states

The idea that civil liberties, particularly those accorded us by the Constitution, are squishy depending on what entities are doing the violating (employers demanding social media passwords are a good example), is leaving the American people wide open for a different type of tyranny.


shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

...still works.  Cameras in public places don't meet the standard. Monitoring people's cell phones and emails is much more of a violation of the 4th Amendment than restrictions on 30-round mags and political TV commercials are of the 2nd and 1st, respectively. This is another case where the public has it mostly right; mostly on the left.

onlytwiter
onlytwiter

US and other European countries should rewrite some of their Laws. Freedom doesn't mean citizens could do anything and use the same Law to escape. I have worked in Gulf countries..and have seen their laws very closely..!!! There is some freedom...but if someone tries to harm their country they will show you...your place. And finally they deport you from their country. US should be more tough.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

This is a pleasant surprise. Perfect security is impossible to achieve, no matter how many civil liberties are compromised — look at Russia vs the Chechens. I'm OK with the current balance between privacy and security. If I weren't, I would probably disappear into a tarpaper shack in the wilderness, like Ted Kaczynski.


DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Here's a tip for people that are paranoid about being watched: you are already being watched.  That cell-phone you carry with you everywhere has a microphone on it that can be tapped in to in order to overhear/record everything around it.  That web-cam you have on your laptop you use to Skype can easily be taken-over by anyone with the knowledge to do so and can film you or watch you at any time.  That computer you're posting on and browsing this webpage with not only may contain a trojan without your knowledge that collects your financial information and can hijack your computer; it also legally collects data on every website you visit and every advertisement you view in order to create a consumer profile on your activities available to the highest bidder.  Facebook itself is an even simpler means of doing this - you do the work for them by listing all of your likes, dislikes, preferences and social activities.

You lost your sense of individual privacy a long time ago.  You never realized it because it came in the form of "cool toys" that you thought would make your social life more interesting or give you something to play with.  If you think the Government has anything on you like large corporations do, you're in for a rude awakening.

fitty_three
fitty_three

I also suggest looking at the document in the window you've provided.

It doesn't seem to be written in English.

fitty_three
fitty_three

wait until the American people find out hat only one party believes that trampling civil liberties is ok as long it's a commercial entity.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@fitty_threeI clicked in the little box in the lower right hand corner and had no problem.



fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

Did you happen to notice that two days ago, Washington State banned employers from demanding social media passwords?

It might be of interest for two reasons:

1. It ain't the gubmint, this time government was on the right side of things

2. Liberties being violated (unreasonable search & seizure - A4)were being violated by commercial interests.

Garzhad
Garzhad

@onlytwiter 

No thanks. I prefer more freedom, not less.But they definitely need to be tougher on scum.

destor23
destor23

@SirDonQuixotic In college I worked for a chain video store.  The sheer amount of information, including social security numbers and authorizations to deal with credit agencies, to rent a $2 movie for three days, was amazing.  But, people did it.  And, heck, so did I!

When we talk about "personal information," we should start the conversation by everybody laying out their loyalty cards, gym memberships, buying club memberships and what they stored with Amazon.  Might be a good discussion.  We could regulate the private use of personal information first.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@SirDonQuixotic 

"You lost your sense of individual privacy a long time ago.  You never realized it because it came in the form of "cool toys" that you thought would make your social life more interesting or give you something to play with.  If you think the Government has anything on you like large corporations do, you're in for a rude awakening. "

Spot on!

fitty_three
fitty_three

@Ivy_B

Not sure what's going on here.  I tried that and it just made it larger.  I get this:

Botkrvbkws wbtl 656 nmuit N`krbanos ahomuatkm cy tkikplhok cyHSA Botkrontbhoni ho Nprbi 15) 35>1/ ]lk `nrjbo hf sn`pibojkrrhr fhr rksuits cnskm ho tlk thtni sn`pik bs pius hr `bous =pkrakotnjk phbots/]lk sn`pik boaiumks ==6 botkrvbkws n`hoj inomibok rksphomkotsnom >65 botkrvbkws n`hoj akii plhok rksphomkots/

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three @rmcmillen01 It interests me enough, but just enough... and yes, I saw that little bit of news.....

Why did it interest me "just enough"? Well..... right or wrong (usually wrong), FOR THE MOST PART... the government has been the one snatching our civil liberties right from our hands time and time again.... regardless of if someone or something else did so at other times for whatever reasons (commercial or otherwise), the government has been paving the way for others to do as they do for years.....

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@shepherdwong @rmcmillen01 wait..... you tell me to wake up, yet in the same breath you prove my point that our civil liberties are screwed and always have been as they've been chipped away at and dwindled down over the last 12 YEARS OR SO.... proving I am right by posting an article that's about 7 YRS. OLD that cites a moment in time in January of 10 YEARS AGO............................................................ and I'm the moron?...... ok, just checking.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@destor23

We should, with the recognition of this starting point:

No one is entitled to violate constitutional rights - if the government can't do it, neither can anyone else, like commercial interests.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@fitty_three @SirDonQuixotic 

Let's nor forget all the security cameras posted on many  corners in our largest cities, or the cameras that are posted on traffic lights for cities to gouge out from us more of our hard earned dough. Pretty soon every segment of socieyt will be watched as if we are on the floor of a casino - cameras everywhere.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@fitty_three I just clicked on the Scribd name a few seconds ago and the correct version came up there as well.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

@fitty_three I'm using Chrome. Also downloaded Scribd at some point because Gordon Ramsay uses it for recipes. Don't know if that made a difference.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

I can agree with that, but there is really no equivalence.  We do have our crazy, but also, a lot of us are former GOPers.  I'm kind of centrist, but a little left.

The crazy I see now just has no equal in the Democratic party.

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three @rmcmillen01 As much as I hate to say it.... I would not be the last to say Dems lie and have an agenda to push..... all sides lie... all people lie.... all sides have agendas.... all people have agendas..... this may not be a "fact of life" but there is a nugget of truth there to an extent.... just that some fail to admit it to themselves. I agree on the GOP I knew when I was younger.... I have sat next to Bill Janklow (a staunch republican politician on the state level) on many occasions and while I may not have agreed with him at all times, I will say he was one of "the good ones" you speak of.... both sides have a little dose of the crazy in them to some extent.... its just that Republicans seem to not mind letting their crazy just lay out on the table and breath, while the Dems like to dole their nutty out in small doses from time to time.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

I think the reason they do it is to try to sound more reasonable than they are.  When you scratch 'em the crazy comes out.

I would be the last to say that Dems to lie and have an agenda to push, but for the most part, Dems seem to be a lot more innocuous than Teh Crazy.The GOP I knew when I was younger has been purged of all the good ones (except maybe Christie and Powell + others) leaving Teh Crazy who can't seem to hold their own outside of FOX.

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three @rmcmillen01 I have right wing family and friends and I am right there with ya..... me? Well....... Eastwood would prob. call me a "little left of Lenin".... and Id call him "so old he may have been actually clinically dead"

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three @rmcmillen01 Accepted.... think nothing of it. You can never really know just from what someone types what is truly in their heart, so it is easy to take what I was saying with a grain of salt even if I meant it from the bottom of my heart (if that sucker is still in there)...... there are worse things you could call me than a teabagger............. cant really think of any right now.... but I am sure they are there.............................................. actually? probably not.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

I had to douse three friends for pitchfork waving.  I still have a couple right wing friends, and I'm more centrist, but it's the pitchfork waving that I dislike.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

Point taken, not for how you voted, but I've misread you. You sounded like what I call a "ringer" - one who claims to be "not teabagger / hater" but really is.

Apologies.

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three I would never want to turn a blind eye to getting the moral shaft like this my friend.... and I agree, teabaggers don't know what hostile gov. really is... but they know how to be real hostile to their own government ;-) ..... guess that explains why I voted for "the other guy" (that one still makes me chuckle)

fitty_three
fitty_three

...and as far as "new", no it's not, but the intensity has ramped up far beyond what I've seen in the '70s, '80s, '90s, and even earlier this century.

So "not newness" is no excuse whatsoever to turn a blind eye to commercial data collection, which by the way, could be seized without difficulty by a real** hostile government.

**Double star here because the teabaggers and their ilk don't know what a real hostile government actually is.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Interesting that you are really doing a lot of cloaking with respect to the teabaggers.

Hmmmm...

rmcmillen01
rmcmillen01

@fitty_three @rmcmillen01 I am including all government my friend..... I am not including the gun debate (it isn't over yet, no need to include something history is still out on)...

Nor am I including any "misconceptions" on one party or another..... I have no misconceptions as far as what I speak of.... unlike most who spout off at the blink of an eye no matter the subject matter (even if they have no idea what they are talking about), I speak only of experience and what I know to be true about any one group of people...... I have family and friends who are part of both the republican party as well as one or two "teabaggers" and ex-teabaggers... all of whom have pretty much confirmed or denied any ideas I may have ever had about the groups......... so I know of what I speak....

As for my liberties? Well, they were real.... my rights were real....and what ever is left of them that has not been dwindled down since 9/11? Well.... those are real as well.... but that doesn't mean government, big business and lobbyists for those businesses are not all working together in one way or another to take those liberties.... those rights... just as they have before.

.... As for being "fine"? Well...I am not "fine" with any of it.... but let us not act like this is something new.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rmcmillen01

I think that you might be right - ONLY as long as you include state and local governments.

I'm sure you're including the gun debate and other teabagger misconceptions, too.  Throw those out, they aren't real.

And as for "paving the way", it's commercial data collection in a new media environment that doing that.

But it's ok.  I'm sure you'll feel good that your liberties (A4) weren't violated when your employer demands your facebook page and then fires you.  If you're fine with the conflict with A4, you're a lost soul, indeed!

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@rmcmillen01 "...and I'm the moron?"

Our civil liberties, re: the 4th Amendment, aren't "no more in danger," neither have they been "slowly" chipped away for a good long while. After 9-11, they were completely obliterated in a matter of months ("a moment in time"). 

roknsteve
roknsteve

Watching security videos has to be the most boring job in the world.  For instance, for shop lifters you have to watch in real time.  I've done it-never again. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@tommyudo

And these are run by......local governments and.......commercial ventures.

Not that the Federal government is squeaky clean, it's more like that it's only the tip of a very large iceberg.