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Sheeple queasy about the Patriot Act once informed about it

The same people willing to give away their rights and just “trust the President” as long as he was “fighting terrorism” are having second thoughts, once the scope of the Patriot Act is spoonfed to them in understandable chunks. (AP):

Fewer than half of Americans know the purpose of the Patriot Act, and the more they know about it the less they like it, according to a poll released Monday.

Fewer than half of those polled, 42 percent, are able to correctly identify the law’s main purpose of enhancing surveillance procedures for federal law enforcement agencies, according to the poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut. Almost two-thirds of all Americans, 64 percent, said they support the Patriot Act. But support dropped to 57 percent among those who could accurately identify the intent of the legislation.

The survey was intended to take a closer look at the high levels of public support the Patriot Act has gotten in various polls, said Samuel Best, the center’s director. “The Patriot Act has been a very visible piece of legislation,” Best said. “We wanted to see if people had an understanding of the act that differentiated it from the war on terrorism generally.”

“Most people don’t distinguish the Patriot Act from the war on terror in general,” Best said.

Here are the findings (based on polling of 800 adults from Aug. 4-22 and have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points):

The provision that permitted federal agents:
* To use information collected in foreign intelligence investigations for domestic crime investigations was supported by 81 percent.

* To monitor names and addresses of Internet communications in criminal investigations was supported by 69 percent.

* To tap any telephone line a terrorist suspect might use rather than specifying particular phone lines was supported by 62 percent.

* To require libraries to turn over records in terrorism investigations unbeknownst to the patrons was supported by 53 percent.

* To require banks to turn over records to the government without judicial approval was supported by 43 percent.

* To conduct secret searches of Americans’ homes without informing the occupants for an unspecified period of time was supported by 23 percent.

* 75% said they think that law enforcement will frequently or occasionally use the law to investigate crimes other than terrorism.

* 72%, said they expect it will be used to investigate legitimate political and social groups.

People are evenly divided on whether the law has prevented terrorist attacks.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding