Poll: Snowden is whistleblower

Edward Snowden illustration

HAMDEN, Conn. -- American voters say Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a majority says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, said a poll released from Quinnipiac University.

Fifty-five percent said Snowden became a whistle-blower when he leaked details to the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data. Thirty-four percent said he’s a traitor. Snowden, 30, worked for for federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va.

The poll revealed that by 45 percent to 40 percent, participants said the government goes too far in restricting civil liberties as part of the war on terrorism. That was a reversal from January 2010, when in a similar survey 63 percent said anti-terrorism activities didn’t go far enough to protect the U.S. from attacks, compared with 25 percent who disagreed.

“The massive swing in public opinion about civil liberties and governmental anti-terrorism efforts, and the public view that Edward Snowden is more whistle-blower than traitor, are the public reaction and apparent shock at the extent to which the government has gone in trying to prevent future terrorist incidents,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute.

Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor. The lone exception is black voters, with 43 percent calling him a traitor and 42 percent calling him a whistle-blower.

There is a gender gap on counter-terrorism efforts as men say 54 - 34 percent they have gone too far and women say 47 - 36 percent they have not gone far enough. There is little difference among Democrats and Republicans who are about evenly divided. Independent voters say 49 - 36 percent that counter-terrorism measures have gone too far.

Some of the largest growth in those concerned about the threat to civil liberties is among men and Republicans, groups historically more likely to be supportive of governmental anti- terrorism efforts.

Snowden has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving there on June 23 from Hong Kong, which refused a U.S. extradition request. President Barack Obama’s administration has been pressuring other countries not to grant Snowden asylum.