NSA, no way! Anti-spying sentiments on the rise amid steady stream of disclosures

Published time: September 11, 2013 17:38

Reuters/Jason Reed

The National Security Agency isn’t making many friends, apparently: a new poll published this week suggests that a majority of Americans continue to have complaints with the NSA’s surveillance practices amid a myriad of recent disclosures.

According to the results of survey released this week by the
Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research,
anti-NSA sentiment remains rampant in the United States more than
three months after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden
first began disclosing top-secret documents exposing the
inner-workings of a vast surveillance apparatus operated by
America’s premier spy agency. Meanwhile, concerns regarding those
practices are growing amid members of Congress and even
independent coalitions.

Polling conducted by the AP and NORC last month and released on
Tuesday suggest that 56 percent of Americans surveyed oppose the
NSA’s collection of telephone records, and 54 percent said they
were against the practices that put Internet metadata into the
hands of federal investigators.

A poll confused earlier this year in July by the PEW Research
Center found that 44 percent of Americans disapproved with the
NSA program, with half of the country not opposing the
surveillance methods.

Now only 34 percent — or roughly one-third of those polled — say
they are okay was the dragnet collection of metadata, or raw
information including information on the sender and recipient,
time and location pertaining to emails and phone calls.
Additionally, 53 percent of Americans polled from a group of
1,008 adults say the federal government is doing a good job of
ensuring freedom, a drop in seven percentage points since 2011.
That earlier study concluded that 40 percent of Americans thought
the government was doing a good job of protecting privacy, and
today that number is down to 34 percent.

The AP poll also concluded that an overwhelming 71 percent of
those asked opposed US officials eavesdropping on calls without
warrant, and 62 percent said they were against the monitoring of
email content.

Results from the latest poll were published on Tuesday, one day
before the UK’s Guardian newspaper published the latest
top-secret document in a series of classified leaks attributed to
Snowden since early June. On Wednesday morning, the Guardian
published a NSA memo from 2009 in which its revealed how US
intelligence officials have shared raw data collected from
American persons with Israeli counterparts without domestic agents even
analyzing that information before it changes hands.

Commenting to the AP, Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier
Foundation suggested the recent NSA disclosures undoubtedly have
influenced the public’s perception of the US intelligence
community and the way it conducts itself.

For the first time, the public is able to see what’s going on
behind closed doors and it’s changing minds
,” Timm told the

The EFF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and more
than two dozen other entities, are named as plaintiffs in a
collection of lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s
surveillance programs. Attorneys for the EFF are representing
plaintiffs in the matter of First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA,
which grew in size this week when five new organizations signed
on to sue the White House. The EFF announced on Tuesday this week
that Acorn Active Media, the Charity and Security Network, the
National Lawyers Guild, Patient Privacy Rights and The Shalom
Center have all signed on to the suit, which attorneys say
challenges the government’s surveillance alleged abuse of Section
215 of the Patriot Act to collect bulk telephone metadata — an
activity first disclosed on June 5 after Snowden leaked documents
to the Guardian and Washington Post.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom to associate and
express political views as a group
,” EFF legal director Cindy
Cohn said in a statement. “The NSA undermines that right when
it collects, without any particular target, the phone records of
innocent Americans and the organizations in which they
participate. In order to advocate effectively, these
organizations must have the ability to protect the privacy of
their employees and member

Also signing on in support of NSA reform is US Rep. Darrell Issa
(R-California), who only this week announced he’d be seeking
changes in the way America conducts surveillance operations. Issa
previously voted against a measure proposed by colleague Rep.
Justin Amash (R-Michigan) which would have aimed to thwart the
NSA’s now-infamous practices, but this week wrote a letter to
Congress saying lawmakers on Capitol Hill should debate those
policies once again as leaks continue to raise concerns.

Now that it has been publicly acknowledged that the
communications of Americans were included in the NSA’s data
collection program, likely violating their Fourth Amendment
rights, Congress must respond in a manner that both increases the
transparency of the agency’s programs and reinforces the
constitutional protections of our citizens
,” Issa wrote in a
letter first published by Politico.

We’re very pleased that Chairman Issa supports our
,” Amash spokesman Will Adams told US News &
World Report. “If the Amash amendment does get taken up by the
House and it does pass this fall, it will put pressure on the
committees to start passing comprehensive reforms

The Amash Amendment would have barred the NSA
from using the PATRIOT Act provision at the center of First
Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
to collect the phone
records of all Americans. It was defeated in the House last
month by a 12 vote margin.

Copyright: RT