David Lauter
L.A. Times
July 26, 2013

Americans believe that government surveillance programs collect far more information than even the widely reported recent leaks of classified data indicate and they increasingly worry that the scope of anti-terror programs has endangered civil liberties.

And yet, despite those concerns, Americans still narrowly approve of the “government’s collection of telephone and Internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts,” with 50% approving and 44% disapproving, according to a newly released Pew Research Center survey.

A key to understanding the public’s seemingly ambivalent attitudes is that among those who believe the programs go beyond their official descriptions, feature excessive secrecy or don’t receive enough oversight by courts, a significant minority nonetheless approves of them. Those who believe the programs perform as advertised support them overwhelmingly.

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