WASHINGTON - February 24 - A new poll commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union
and released publicly today shows that a majority of American voters oppose the
Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance of Americans by the National
Security Agency. The poll also shows a strong belief in the need for the
executive branch to be subject to the checks and balances of the courts and
"Despite the rhetoric from the White House, these new data show that American
voters recognize the need for a strong system of checks and balances," said
Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The
secret eavesdropping is clearly illegal, and Congress must do its duty and
demand the president stop breaking the law." It is unfortunate that the
president continues to present Americans with a false choice: that we must
choose between our constitutional rights and our security. This poll is the
latest evidence that Americans believe the president does not need to subvert
the Constitution to keep us safe."
The poll, conducted by the Washington-based firm Belden, Russonello &
Stewart, measured voters’ attitudes toward the warrantless surveillance of
Americans by the NSA. The findings were reached through a national telephone
survey of 1,012 registered voters conducted between February 8 and February12,
2006. The margin of sampling error for the entire survey is plus or minus 3.1
percentage points at the 95 percent level of tolerance.
The survey reveals key findings about voters’ attitudes toward the
government’s warrantless domestic spying program. Specifically, the poll found
- A majority of voters want Congress to “demand that the
warrantless eavesdropping be stopped because it is illegal.”
- A majority of voters oppose the government eavesdropping
on Americans’ calls to people overseas without a court
- A majority of voters are skeptical that the President
acted within the law.
- A majority of voters express the view that the President
can “effectively combat terrorism and follow the law and get court warrants to
spy on Americans.”
- A majority of voters believe the President is wrong to
assume that “the Congressional resolution to go to war in Afghanistan to fight
terrorism also gave him permission to eavesdrop on Americans without a
at least a third of Republican voters consistently expressed viewpoints that
they are concerned that the president is operating outside the law.
The ACLU noted that the results of the poll should be taken into
consideration as Congress continues to deal with the illegal program. On
Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold its second hearing
on the warrantless eavesdropping. The ACLU, legal scholars, members of Congress,
and the non-partisan Congressional Research Service have all raised questions
about the legality of the program. The ACLU has also filed a legal challenge to
the unconstitutional program.
The poll also found that American voters have serious concerns about the
Patriot Act. The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday on the reauthorization of
that bill, and the ACLU has urged Congress to adopt several amendments that
would better protect the civil liberties of ordinary Americans. Specifically,
the poll found that:
- Two-thirds of voters who have heard of the act believe “some changes need to be made.”
Only two in ten voters say the law should be made permanent.
"When presented with an honest representation, the American voter has serious
concerns about the government’s actions," said Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel
for Legislative Strategy. "Congress must listen and take steps to protect our
Constitutional freedoms. The American people recognize that the rule of law must
be followed by all - especially the president."
The ACLU is a non-partisan organization that does not support or oppose
candidates for public office.
To see the PDF results of the poll, go to:
To read an HTML summary of the poll, go to:
For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the warrantless NSA spying
program, go to: