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Americans Less Likely to Give Up Freedom for Security Than at Any Time since 9/11



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Two days after the bombings in Boston, Fox News asked the question, “Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?” For the first time since the attacks on September 11, 2011, more Americans said “No” (45 percent) than said “Yes” (43 percent).

One day later, the Washington Post conducted a similar poll, which featured this inquiry:

Which worries you more: that the government (will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights), or that it (will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism)?

41 percent of respondents were worried that the government “will not go far enough,” while 48 were worried that the government “will go too far.” Again, this represented a significant change in atittude from 2010, when the Post asked: ”Which worries you more: (that Obama will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights), or (that Obama will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism).” The results:

          Will not go   Will go   Neither     No
          far enough    too far    (vol.)   opinion
1/15/10      63          27          6        4

And in 2006, the Post asked: ”Which worries you more: (that Bush will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights), or (that Bush will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism)”:

          Will not go   Will go   Neither     No
          far enough    too far    (vol.)   opinion
1/8/06        48          44          6        2

For once, there appears to be bipartisan agreement on the question. In Fox News’s April 17 poll, 51 percent of Democrats said that they would trade more of their freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism, while 47 percent of Republicans agreed. Independents, meanwhile, are holding the torch for liberty: only 29 percent were willing to give up more of their freedom in exchange for greater security.



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