FOI Daily Dose: Poll shows Americans support NSA surveillance but still want answers

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that although 58 percent of Americans support the National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence-gathering program, an even larger majority is still eager for answers.

According to the poll conducted June 12-16 on a national random sample of 1,017 adults, 65 percent want Congress to hold public hearings on the NSA surveillance programs.

The Washington Post analyzed the results June 19, comparing the findings to previous public opinion polls about the NSA surveillance since the programs were unveiled June 6. A CNN/ORC poll on June 17 showed that 66 percent of Americans supported the federal government tracking foreign Internet activity, and yet a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll published the same day found only 48 percent approved of the phone and Internet data collection.

To help clear up confusion about the surveillance, NSA Director Keith Alexander told a House committee on June 18 that the programs helped foil more than 50 terror threats worldwide, including more than 10 in the U.S. Homeland, according to USA Today.

Alexander told lawmakers: ”I would much rather be here today debating this than explaining why we were unable to prevent another 9/11” attack.”

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at khackett@spj.org or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

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