FBI Director Christopher Wray and senior leaders of other federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies are encountering stiff, bipartisan headwinds as they make the rounds on Capitol Hill to secure reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act without changes. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs of adults across the country shows that Members of Congress are just being sensitive to the strong views of their constituents.
Historically, Republicans have been more security conscious and more likely to sacrifice some level of freedom for enhanced safety. Democrats were much more likely to put protection of civil liberties first. The AP-NORC poll shows that after a series of federal surveillance scandals and revelations, respondents from both parties have similar views.
The most prominent trend is that public opposition to warrantless surveillance has dramatically increased over time.
The bottom line for surveillance hawks wearing out the soles of their shoes walking the House and Senate office buildings is that only 28 percent of Americans support warrantless spying on communications outside of the United States. That alone should tell them that Section 702 is not going to be reauthorized without significant reforms.
The growth of anti-surveillance skepticism has been especially pronounced among Republicans. In 2011, 69 percent of Republicans said it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice rights and freedoms to prevent terroristic threats to the homeland. Today, that number is down to 44 percent.
Today, a majority say it is never necessary to sacrifice rights and freedoms to fight terrorism.