Was it OK for Snowden to leak secrets?
June 12th, 2013
06:32 PM ET
2 years ago

Was it OK for Snowden to leak secrets?

(CNN) - Was it right or wrong for Edward Snowden to leak information about secret government surveillance programs?

A new national poll indicates Americans are divided.

Documents Snowden provided to journalists revealed the existence of secret National Security Agency programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the internet activity of overseas residents. Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, was fired from his position Monday at the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm. The FBI is investigating the leaks.

According to a survey by Gallup that was conducted Monday and Tuesday and released Wednesday, 44% said it was right for Snowden to share information about the surveillance programs, with 42% saying it was wrong and 14% unsure.

There was a slight partisan divide, with nearly half of Republicans and independents questioned saying it was right for Snowden to leak the information. That number drops to 39% among Democrats.

The Gallup poll questioned 1,008 adults nationwide by telephone, with an overall sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. The question regarding Snowden's actions was asked to half the respondents, with a sampling error of plus or minus six percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: NSA • Polls
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Dr R Somashekar

    USA is built by adventurous,creative,inteligent and industrious people. I do not know why make fuss of Mr Snowden.

    June 13, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  2. Greg

    Had this been George Bush doing it, the Democrats would be up in arms against it. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said Obama would take the worst of Bush's policies and make them popular. Are we really such sheep? Answer: Yes.

    June 13, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  3. Donkey Party

    He gave secrets to Communist China. Anyone that calls him a "hero" or thinks that's ok, is a Communist sympathizer, plain and simple.

    June 13, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  4. morgan blank

    The only split is between the brainwashed and the independents. Impeach Obama arrest Bush!

    June 13, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  5. Michael Suter

    Congress has once again lost touch with our constitution. Before you call any man a traitor ask yourself where is the proof. We are forever being told if this is done Americans will die yet never do they point to a specific case that can be proved to have been caused by the so called treasonous act. I can not remember voting on giving up my bill of rights to privacy nor the freedom of the press. Always government go after the press when they do not like having their illicit secrets known. Show me proof where the NSA has saved American lives by these activities that out weight the loss of our constitutional rights. Let the public decide based on facts not rants and ravings from politicians who gain power through fear.

    June 13, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Michael Suter

    Congress has once again lost touch with our constitution. Before you call any man a traitor ask yourself where is the proof. We are forever being told if this is done Americans will die yet never do they point to a specific case that can be proved to have been caused by the so called treasonous act.
    -------------------–
    How can you claim that your rights are being violated when you signed them away in the TOU, "Terms of Use", agreement that you made with your phone service provider? Blame the phone carrier, not the government. But, since you willingly signed a contract, winning will be hard to do.

    June 13, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  7. chill

    A plurality of Republicans think it is okay to leak classified documents, endangering national security???? Does Obama Dereangement Syndrome know no bounds? That is just bizzare.

    June 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  8. Malory Archer

    Greg

    Had this been George Bush doing it, the Democrats would be up in arms against it. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said Obama would take the worst of Bush's policies and make them popular. Are we really such sheep? Answer: Yes.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    There are plenty of Dems who ARE speaking out about it – just as we did during the 8-year reign of error wrought by the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only difference is we were called every name in the book by your ilk and told that if we have nothing to hide we have notihing to worry about, and that we need to watch what we say &do lest we give "comfort to the terrists", and advised that if we didn't like it we should leave America. That guy ann coulter suggested that the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should use violent tactics to "intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too". Yet you had no problem then.

    June 13, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. Yas

    Anyone who thought that any type of social media was not being monitored especially after 9/11 (and if it stops another 9/11 go for it) was living in the dream world. Bottomline if your not doing anything wrong what is the problem???
    As far as Snowdon is concerned...He should be indicted, tried as the traitor that he is along with the reporter, hopefully that will stop anyone else from wanting his 15 min. of fame from doing the same thing.

    June 13, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    Additonally Greg, there are plenty of hardline repubs who were for it then, and they're still for it now. Funny how you have no admonishment for them. What's up with the selective outrage?

    June 13, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. Cartimo

    I could be way off base but it seems to me the only privacy we have is what we don't tell to others. The telephone companies keep track of who we call, when we call and for how long. Insurance companies keep track of our health status. Credit Bureaus keep tabs of our banks, investment, savings and paying habits. Many neighbors keep track of when we come and go. The government already keeps track of when we are born and die, how much we make, where we work, how many dependants we have etc. So what is this big deal about privacy???????

    June 13, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. fish flu

    I don't think we are "split". Those in the baby boom years...we kinda thought it was going on. The young people are more outraged, but isn't youth always careening instead of proceeding? we are not split. in fact it may be a point of agreement on the Patriot Act and the fact that extra judiciary courts have no place in an open society. People are in some debate over how to proceed with this knowledge. Is it safe to wish a friend happy birthday on facebook, you know, stuff like that.

    June 13, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Malory Archer

    Never thought I'd live to see the day when the rightwingers jump up and down to defend a "librul" reporter and newspaper! Since many of them have finally awoken from their decade-long coma and gotten onboard with thinking Americans, the overwhelming consensus is to squash the patriot act and DHS for the insects they are!

    June 13, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. USA

    I can't stand hearing all of these ignorant comments about the violation of constitutional rights, or people like Michael Suter telling us to ask where is the proof before calling Snowden a traitor. Mr. Suter – try reading Title 18 USC § 798 – Disclosure of Classified Information. Snowden willingly signed a contract, promising to not disclose classified information. He broke his promise, whether he agreed with the programs or not. Now these same ignorant folks will say "But it's not a violation if what he disclosed was illegal in the first place." So what was illegal? What was a violation of Constitutional rights? The media frames these scenarios in ways that obfuscate the truth and makes it appear as though the Federal Govt reads all of our emails and listens to all of our phone calls. All of these programs were approved by Congress, authorized by the Judicial Branch and executed by the Executive Branch. So every check and balance was met. The Govt did not intercept domestic phone calls or emails – that is where the confusion is. The Top Secret FISA order was for a minimal amount of information – call times, call duration and phone numbers – and was approved by a judge. The Prism program only dealt with non-US persons outside the United States. Do you really expect the US to fight terrorism without using its technical capabilities? And, no, this does not impact US persons. The 4th and 1st Amendments are taken extremely seriously by federal agents; their jobs depend on it. They all raised their hands and swore an oath to protect the Constitution. Every thing an agent does gets scrutinized and audited to ensure that no US person's constitutional rights have been violated. These people who demonize the PATRIOT Act do not know what it actually is. It doesn't give the Govt carte blanche to do whatever it wants. It does not violate any US person's constitutional rights. Take 5 minutes and read what it allows, and you'll see that it is designed to protect the US. Classified information exists because our enemies would love to know how we are targeting them. If you want to know the truth, then serve in the military or become a federal agent who devote their lives to defending your freedom and your rights as an American, and raise your hand to swear to do so. You are mistaken at best and absolutely ignorant at worst if you think the FBI and NSA are out to police the daily activities of US persons. They are the front line in a fight against those who want to kill us and our way of life.

    June 13, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. jgeek

    Sick of these politicians like Bohner, Pelosi, Mc Cain, Obama, Biden, etc who tries to derail our freedom by too much government intervention. I agreed with Bush before for surveilance of those who came here after 911 who are not US citizens. Now Obama and some Repubs included us Citizens here by data mining our phone calls, internet web access, etc.

    June 13, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Malory Archer wrote:

    There are plenty of Dems who ARE speaking out about it – just as we did during the 8-year reign of error wrought by the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only difference is we were called every name in the book by your ilk and told that if we have nothing to hide we have nothing to worry about, and that we need to watch what we say &do lest we give "comfort to the terrorists", and advised that if we didn't like it we should leave America. That guy ann coulter suggested that the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should use violent tactics to "intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too". Yet you had no problem then..
    -----------------
    I don't think that this is quite the same crowd as back then. Those were neo-cons. Most of the loudest voices crying out against "the government" are neo-Libertarians. Rand Paul supporters, most of them. "that guy"? ROFLMAO

    June 13, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. Searcher

    So, the DEMOCRATS are now the national security party while Republicans will try to hurt this country any way they can. What a role reversal!

    June 13, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Seppo

    Snowdon, well done, you made a big favour for the world! I am sure that Alfred Nobel would like to take back the Nobel Peace Prize given to President Obama and handed over to Snowdon.
    USA and President is swimming in blood to the neck of innocent people been killed in the name of freedom, democracy or “fight of terrorism”. USA has promoted themselves over any international law, but the world is demanding justice, what is not given to them by USA.
    USA has become like old Soviet Union or East Germany, there everyone was controlled of the KGB or STASY. President Obama suppose to have changed the bad imago of USA, but has done the opposite and he and others are still asking why and where from all the “terrorist” are coming from.

    June 13, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    I find it amazing that some people hate Pres. Obama so much that they are willing to overlook the crime of hacking into top secret computer files, copying the information, and then fleeing to China with the stolen data.

    June 13, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    chill

    A plurality of Republicans think it is okay to leak classified documents, endangering national security???? Does Obama Dereangement Syndrome know no bounds? That is just bizzare
    -----------------
    Don't mistake establishment conservatives for neo-Libertarians, the folks who enthusiastically support Rand Paul.

    June 13, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. George

    double gauge between America and china about freedom and human right

    June 13, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    There's gotta be something in the Constitution about flogging a dead horse CNN....

    June 13, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. Ben

    This spy op of gathering up info and creating dossiers of every single American to keep him/her 'safe' is rubbish. Anyone can be blackened under the scrutiny of their life being put under a microscope. Look what they did to Jesus! Did He do anything 'wrong'? Well it depends on who you asked back then. If it was the Romans and the church fathers at the time, in other words, the 'establishment' they would say 'yes' because these tyrants and demons had the most to lose because of what He stood for. If these tyrants in our midst can spin. distort, lie, make false accusations to blacken Jesus as pretext to murder Him, they will blacken anyone...political dissidents, true patriots, and anyone with a set of balls bigger than a pair of peas will be considered threats to would be despots.

    June 13, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. James Clarkson

    Let's be clear here. Snowden did not give secrets to China. He merely informed the public of the level of monitoring of private communications that was being carried out by the American government. Had the American government not been lying about what it was doing then this would even have been news. The American government would have been quite free to ask the American people and the courts for permission to do this monitoring and gone through the proper legal channels including the proper channels for a constitutional amendment if that proved necessary. However it chose not to do so but to do the monitoring in secret, hiding it from the public and the courts. That is wrong and had a company been behaving in a similar way Snowden would have had the full protection of the whistle-blower's law. The whistle-blower's law needs to be extended so it includes protection for Snowden.

    June 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  25. Ben

    Snowden gave it all up to do what is right. One of a very very few in a world full of selfish, fearful, people that don't understand the concept of freedom and liberty. They would willingly give up their individual sovereign to the govt to keep them 'safe'. Washington is shades of the tyranny of King George III. Everyone's a suspect...honest hard working simple people are being scrutinized by the privileged and pampered few which are driven around in bullet proof limousines who'll do almost anything to remain in power. They're the 'good guys', whereas Harry and Fran rocking chair are not to be trusted. Uh huh...

    June 13, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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