WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. voters overwhelmingly oppose key elements of the Bush administration’s proposed wiretapping legislation, according to a new poll commissioned by the ACLU.
“Large majorities across almost every demographic subgroup of American voters,” wrote pollsters The Mellman Group in a memo to the American Civil Liberties Union, “oppose warrantless wiretaps, oppose blanket warrants, and oppose amnesty for telecommunication companies that may have broken the law.”
“As a result,” the memo says, “members (of Congress) who stand in defense of constitutional rights have little to fear from their constituents.”
Sixty-one percent of voters favor requiring the government to get a warrant from a court before wiretapping the conversations U.S. citizens have with people in other countries, with an outright majority of voters, 51 percent, “strongly” supporting the requirement, the poll of 1,000 likely 2008 general-election voters found.
Similar percentages opposed “blanket” or “basket” warrants, under which surveillance of categories of Americans would be allowed.
“Strikingly,” says The Mellman Group’s analysis, “majorities across partisan and ideological lines oppose blanket warrants.” Seventy-two percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans opposed them; as did 71 percent of liberals, 57 percent of moderates and 58 percent of conservatives.
Fifty-nine percent of voters also reject amnesty for phone companies that may have violated the law by selling customers’ private information to the government, preferring to let aggrieved citizens go to the courts and let judges decide.