However, a majority believe investigative powers should r…

However, a majority believe investigative powers should require
congressional authorization

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Aug. 17 LAWFUEL – Legal News Network — A Harris Poll conducted in late July, before news of a terrorist plot to blow up U.S.-bound airplanes broke, found that large majorities of U.S. adults support strong surveillance measures when dealing with suspected terrorist activities.

Given that this poll was conducted prior to the British arresting people
suspected of a plot to blow up planes between the U.S. and the U.K., it is possible that opinions about government surveillance in the U.S. may have changed.

This Harris Poll found that when law enforcement agencies are
investigating terrorism:

— 70 percent of all adults favor “expanded camera surveillance on streets
and in public places” – something which is currently more widespread in
Britain than the United States.

— 61 percent favor “closer monitoring of banking and credit card

— 62 percent favor “law enforcement monitoring of Internet chat rooms and
other forums.”

— While the public was still divided on whether the government should
expand the “monitoring of cell phones and email,” a modest 52 percent
to 46 percent majority supported it. In February, a modest 55 percent
to 44 percent majority had opposed it.
These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 1,000 U.S. adults
surveyed by telephone by Harris Interactive(R) between July 21 and 24,

While most of these majorities favoring tougher surveillance are
substantial, it is important to note that most U.S. adults do not believe
that activities such as these should be done without congressional
authorization. Less than four in 10 adults said that the president should
be able to authorize any of the following by executive order without
congressional approval:

— Collecting the records of telephone calls made inside, or into, the
United States (38%)

— Monitoring cell phone and email (35%)

— Monitoring international financial transactions (35%)

— Monitoring the content of Internet discussions (31%)

Other interesting findings in this survey include:

— A modest 54 percent to 45 percent majority gave President Bush negative
ratings on fighting terrorism. (These results may be partly a “halo
effect” of the President’s negative job rating. However, it is possible
that this may have changed since the arrests in Britain.)

— A 50 percent to 42 percent plurality believed that the government’s
programs for investigating terrorist activities strike the right
balance between investigating terrorism and protecting civil liberties.

— While only 47 percent of adults were even somewhat familiar with the
Federal Government’s analysis of millions of telephone traffic records,
most people (by 60% to 35%) support this program when they are told
about it.
Harris Interactive asked Dr. Alan Westin, the noted authority on
privacy issues, and the publisher of Privacy and American Business, to
review these findings. According to Dr. Westin, “Since 9/11, the Bush
Administration has maintained that it has the constitutional mandate to
conduct a wide range of anti-terrorist surveillance operations under the
president’s own executive authority. While majorities continue to support
these investigative programs as necessary, 59% to 66% of Americans now feel
that such programs should be done ‘only with Congressional authorization.’
This reflects the historic American belief that serious intrusions into the
civil liberties of individuals — even when justified — need Congressional
standards and oversight, to guard against potential abuses and
over-reaching by the executive branch.”
some increased powers of investigation that law enforcement agencies
might use when dealing with people suspected of terrorist activity,
which would also affect our civil liberties. For each, please say if you
would favor
or oppose it.”
Base: All Adults

Not Sure/
% Favor Oppose Decline
to Answer
Expanded camera
surveillance on
streets and in public
places July 2006 % 70 28 2

Feb. 2006 % 67 32 1
June 2005 % 59 40 1
Sept. 2004 % 60 35 4
Feb. 2004 % 61 37 2
Feb. 2003 % 61 37 1
Mar. 2002 % 58 40 2
Sept. 2001 % 63 35 2

Closer monitoring of
banking and credit card
transactions, to trace
funding sources July 2006 % 61 37 2

Feb. 2006 % 66 33 1
June 2005 % 62 35 3
Sept. 2004 % 67 30 4
Feb. 2004 % 64 34 3
Feb. 2003 % 67 30 2
Mar. 2002 % 72 25 2
Sept. 2001 % 81 17 2

Law enforcement monitoring
of Internet discussions
in chat rooms and
other forums July 2006 % 62 34 3

Feb. 2006 % 60 39 1
June 2005 % 57 40 4
Sept. 2004 % 59 37 5
Feb. 2004 % 50 45 6
Feb. 2003 % 54 42 4
Mar. 2002 % 55 41 4
Sept. 2001 % 63 32 5

Expanded government
monitoring of cell
phones and email, to
communications July 2006 % 52 46 3

Feb. 2006 % 44 55 1
June 2005 % 37 60 3
Sept. 2004 % 39 56 5
Feb. 2004 % 36 60 4
Feb. 2003 % 44 53 4
Mar. 2002 % 44 51 4
Sept. 2001 % 54 41 4

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

“Now, regardless of whether you favor or oppose each of the following
of investigation, do you think this use of investigative powers by the
president should be done under his executive authority without needing
Congressional authorization, or should this use of investigative power by
president be done only with Congressional authorization?”

Base: All Adults Without Only With Not Sure/
Congressional Congressional Decline to
authorization Authorization Answer
Collecting from telephone
companies the records of
telephone calls made either
in the U.S. or to the U.S.
by people suspected of
al Qaeda or terrorist
activities July % 38 59 3

Monitoring of cell phones
and e-mail to intercept
the content of
communications of
people suspected of
terrorist activity July % 35 62 2

Monitoring of
transactions to
trace terrorist
funding sources July % 35 63 2

Monitoring of the
content of Internet
discussions in chat
rooms and other
forums July % 31 66 3

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

* Less than 0.5%.

“How would you rate the job that the Bush administration has done
terrorism – excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?”
Base: All Adults
February September June February July
2004 2004 2005 2006 2006
% % % % %

Positive (NET) 70 62 57 52 45
Excellent 33 29 23 25 13
Pretty Good 37 33 34 27 32
Negative (NET) 30 37 41 47 54
Only Fair 20 22 23 29 24
Poor 10 15 18 19 30
Not sure/Decline to answer * 1 2 * 1
Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.
* Less than 0.5%
“Overall, based on what you may have seen, read or heard about the U.S.
Federal Government’s programs for investigating terrorist activities,
do you
think that the government’s programs strike the right balance between
investigations of potential terrorism and protecting civil liberties, or
Base: All Adults

Strike the right balance 50
Do not strike the right balance 42
Not sure/Decline to answer 7

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.

familiar are you with the program where the U.S. National Security Agency
as part of its efforts to investigate terrorism requested that telephone
companies in the U.S. provide millions of telephone traffic records about
which numbers called other numbers – very familiar, somewhat familiar, not
very familiar or not familiar at all?”

Base: All Adults

July 2006

Familiar (NET) 47
Very familiar 14
Somewhat familiar 33
Not Familiar (NET) 53
Not very familiar 21
Not familiar at all 32
Not sure/Decline to answer *

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.
* Less than 0.5%

“Based on what you may know about this program to obtain telephone traffic
records, would you say that you favor or oppose this government program?”

Base: All Adults

July 2006
Favor (NET) 60
Strongly favor 23
Somewhat favor 37
Oppose (NET) 35
Somewhat oppose 19
Strongly oppose 16
Not sure/Decline to answer 5

Note: Percentages may not add up to exactly 100% due to rounding.
* Less than 0.5%

This Harris Poll(R) was conducted by telephone within the United States
between July 21 and 24, 2006 among 1,000 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures
for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the
household, number of phone lines in the household were weighted where
necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the
All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include:
sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed);
measurement error due to question wording and/or question order,
deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse
(including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used)
and weighting.
With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that
result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a
finite “margin of error” for any survey and the use of these words should
be avoided.
With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is
possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not
other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure
probability sample of 1,000 one could say with a 95 percent probability
that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-3 percentage points.
However that does not take other sources of error into account.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the
National Council on Public Polls.

The Harris Poll(R) #63, August 17, 2006
By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive(R)

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market
research firm in the world. The company provides research-driven insights
and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions
which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris
Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll(R), one of the longest
running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market
research methods. The company has built what could conceivably be the
world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris
Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and
Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in France and through a
global network of independent market research firms. The service bureau,
HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data
collection, panel development services as well as syndicated and tracking
research consultation.
More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at
To become a member of the Harris Poll Online, visit

Press Contact:

Jennifer Cummings
Harris Interactive

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