Was it OK for Snowden to leak secrets?
June 12th, 2013
06:32 PM ET
9 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. GI Joe

    He's been in that position for 8 years, so it was NOT Obama.

    June 12, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Edward Snowden is America's hero. Make no mistake about it. Our corrupt government is out of control.

    June 12, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  3. Guest

    Interesting to see that only half of Republicans agree with him. You'd think they'd be chomping at the bit to "scandalize" this issue against Obama. Back in 2001, Republicans were all for national security. Now it seems like they've all suddenly turned into Ralph Naders.

    June 12, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  4. bdubya

    I am starting to get sick of the question "Is he a hero or traitor"

    I wish CNN, Gallup and the rest would stop asking questions like this.

    A worthy news organization would try to get people to think. Not constantly ask people which side they are on.

    June 13, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. marty north

    If he signed or swore to an agreement to keep silence or protect sensitive national information then it was clearly wrong to renege on that agreement. A man's word is his honour. This man has no honour.

    June 13, 2013 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  6. YWalk

    Hero my butt, throw him in jail and loose the key, pure treason against his country

    June 13, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  7. Allen

    I do not see what all the brouhaha is all about. For those self righteous folks who raise the issue of civil liberties and are ready to quote the constitution at the drop of a hat, how do they expect the security agencies to keep terrorists at bay? Do they expect them to use clairvoyants to gather information? In a technology driven world with terrorism becoming increasingly high-tech it is only logical to adopt such measures. After 9/11 there have been no major terrorist incidents of the same magnitude thank God, and for that Homeland Security, the NSA, CIA and FBI deserve to be lauded. I live in India where the security apparatus is ridden with political interference and ineptitude and the results are visible for all to see. I think it is high time that the sanctimonious defenders of civil liberties alighted from their high horses and supported the drive against terrorism. As far as the surveillance program goes, it is vital to national security and all it needs are a few checks and balances to be in place to ensure that it does not stray from its primary objective. God Bless America.

    June 13, 2013 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  8. -cleve

    -'was it ok for this dude to leak secrets' ??, NO... thy were military secrets !,he was never in the military,just barely out of boy-scouts.. but it's the leaderships fault !,snowden ought to do some prison time,he knew what he was doing was wrong,get's some of that male-bonding in prison,this ain't a perfect world,the US has probably been spying on terroists/other Americans since 1776(or b4),so get over it,secrets are secret !!,take the law in your own hands.. don't pass go.. directly to jail,he did a stupid/wrong thing ....

    June 13, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  9. desert voice

    This is clearly not about morals! This is about Republicans versus Democrats. It is also gays and lesbians against the traditional society. This is the tip of the iceberg of what the moral relativism has done to this Nation, and of what is yet to come! Snowden is playing a "righteous person." In reality, he may be the least moral person in America!

    June 13, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  10. Americanmexphil

    Boy! You give the wrong response here Your name will definitely be on the Obama list.

    June 13, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  11. André Kruger

    Governments are there to serve, not rule, people. There should be no secrets from the servant to the served. Anyway, who the h... within "government" decides what the people are allowed to know and what not? Likely some self-serving, self-appointed bureaucrat begin paid by that same people. Who gave them the right to make such decisions? Many questions, few answers.

    June 13, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  12. Alejandro Javier

    I dont see anything bad with the NSA spying on our computers unless you do something wrong whats the most a technitian can see you on facebook or twitter its stupid let them be there doing this for our own good i fully aprove of this and don regret it

    June 13, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  13. Tommy Mack

    Except... we knew about it in March 2006! He did not tell any THINKING person anything new. AND he contacted Glen Greenwald and other press people BEFORE he got the job (hence he's being paid).

    June 13, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  14. Snapshot

    He'll no it was wrong for him to leak info.
    I am totally against it. What he did
    D was treasonous. This is why we had the Nuremberg trials. They put men at the firing squad over this.
    But wait, he said more is coming. This man is very dangerous and the more he says which I believe he is faking a lot has to be stopped.

    This man is a traitor. Simple as that

    June 13, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  15. tedz

    it was right to release it to american press and public but wrong to leak it to china about other stuffs. cyber war is going on for long time, he is naive to think that chinese aren't doing worst to us.

    June 13, 2013 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  16. fred

    I am unsure how I feel about the spying on Americans. But I have the feeling he is going to turn out like Assange and be doing this for the ego, not the morals.

    June 13, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  17. fred

    Also, noting that he is tallking about the US spying on China (assuming he is telling this type of information), I think that makes him a traitor.

    June 13, 2013 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  18. Zinc

    You may not like Snowden's principles, but at least we have some idea what they are. That's more than I can say about the FISA court. Plus, ex-Representative Jane Harman made the comment that the NSA database is encrypted and requires a judge's order to decrypt. Thus is the sad state of the US Congress' understanding of cybersecurity. In fact, I figure the NSA has put us at additional risk by accumulating all that data in one place and clearly cannot protect it. A judge– or the right cracker, an IT worker, another Snowden, many people could potentially have unfettered access to the data and the temptation to abuse it may be hard to resist.

    June 13, 2013 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  19. tina

    Is he sleeping with the enemy???????

    June 13, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  20. John

    when he was trying to protect the american people, he was a hero. when he started giving interviews to chinese papers about us hacking their computers, he became a traitor. jmho.

    June 13, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  21. Rodney McKay

    Breaking news: the NSA is collecting IP addresses for everyone who posts anti-American comments here. Watch for the black van in front of your home.

    Well, perhaps not. But without the efforts of people like Snowden, it would be a lot more likely.

    June 13, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  22. Marie MD

    NO! It was wrong giving the enemy (both foreign and homegrown) information that can cause great harm for the country then he runs and hides in China.
    He had top secret clearance which means he should be tried for treason against our government.

    June 13, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  23. Emmanuel

    If listening to my telephone calls and monitoring my internet use will help the government protect me from being blown to pieces while running a marathon in Boston, then I must be incredibly stupid to oppose that surveillance.But wait, are Americans not some of the most stupid people on planet earth considering the amount of resources they have? The average American will defend the right to freedom of speech and denounce the responsibility for their action. Snowden signed a contract and possibly took an oath of confidentiality which he has broken and people are hailing him as hero in America. Do you see what I mean by the stupidity of Americans?

    June 13, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  24. Emmanuel

    If Snowden felt it was morally wrong to work for a organisation that invaded people's privacy, wouldn't it have been better to resign and cite those reasons for his resignation? Why leak classified information hence committing a crime and then cowardly run from the consequences, to Hongkong, where I suppose they have the best human rights practices. Then Julian Assange wades in by advising him to go to Latin America, which I believe has countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia e.t.c possibly with the best human rights and transparency records in the world. O gimme a break!!

    June 13, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  25. Emmanuel

    I suspect that Snowden has Asperger's syndrome or its traits going by the accounts of his neighbours who said he walks with his head bent downwards and avoids eye contact. People with Asperger's syndrome can be a victim of their own rigid thinking and inflexible belief of right or wrong and the justification of punishment. I wish he had turned himself in and faced the authorities instead of scampering to Hongkong like a coward.

    June 13, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
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