- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. voters say the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program has thwarted terrorist attacks in the United States, but a majority also think it’s likely that the program has violated Americans’ civil liberties.

Sixty-five percent say they believe the NSA program has helped prevent terrorist attacks in the United States, compared to 28 percent who don’t believe it has, according to a Fox News poll.

Meanwhile, 57 percent say they believe the surveillance program has led to civil liberties of law-abiding Americans being violated, compared to 36 percent who don’t believe that it has.

But a plurality of voters, 49 percent to 42 percent, said the government’s surveillance of U.S. citizens is more likely to help catch terrorists and protect Americans from additional attacks, as opposed to hurting law-abiding Americans by using private information improperly.

Backers of the program have said there aren’t any documented abuses, while opponents have pointed to a recent report from the Justice Department’s inspector general saying the program hasn’t been responsible for a big break in a terrorism case, either.

Sixty-one percent said they don’t trust the federal government to keep their personal information confidential, while 39 percent trust the government “some” or “a great deal.”

Key provisions of the post-9/11 Patriot Act temporarily lapsed earlier this week after a Sunday deadline to renew them came and went. The Senate on Tuesday passed the USA Freedom Act, quickly signed into law by President Obama, which imposes restrictions on the government’s access to records and will have phone companies store the information rather than the government.

Even with those conditions, 58 percent of voters still said they don’t trust that their personal information will remain confidential, compared to 40 percent who said they trust it would.

The survey of 1,006 registered voters was taken May 31-June 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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