Poll: Majority say Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor

By 45 percent to 40 percent, respondents also said the government’s counterterrorism efforts went too far on limiting civil liberties. That marks a turnaround from a January 2010 Quinnipiac poll which found the public saying the government’s national security policies didn’t do enough by a 63 percent to 25 percent split.

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Republicans say anti-terrorism policies have not gone too far 46 percent to 41 percent, with Dems saying they restrict civil liberties by a 43 percent to 42 percent split.

The poll finds a gender gap, with men saying national security policies have gone too far and encroach on civil liberties by a 54 percent to 34 percent split. Women by 47 percent to 36 percent say those policies are not enough.

“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 Quinnipiac University Polling Institute director Peter Brown in a statement.

A majority support the gathering of phone metadata by the NSA, with 54 percent saying it is necessary to keep Americans safe to 40 percent opposed.

Earlier polls have found the public divided on Snowden’s actions. A Time poll in early June found 54 percent said he did a “good thing” leaking information on NSA spying, but a majority, 53 percent, also said he should be prosecuted for doing so.

Snowden is facing federal espionage and theft of government property charges. He is currently in the transit area of Moscow airport as he seeks asylum from a third country to evade a U.S. extradition request.

Snowden has received asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But he faces a difficult trip as the Obama administration has pressured countries not to admit him and block him from crossing their airspace.

WikiLeaks, which has provided him with legal counsel, said in a tweet that they would provide more details on Snowden’s “Flight of Liberty” on Wednesday. 

Top lawmakers have blasted Snowden for his disclosures, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling him a “traitor.” 

President Obama has defended the NSA programs, saying they were critical to national security and had saved lives.

The poll was conducted from June 28 to July 8 and has a 2 point margin of error.