Only 11 percent of voters say the government is now less likely to keep track of their private phone calls even though President Obama has taken steps to insure greater "transparency" and to impose restrictions on such practices, a new poll says. That same 11 percent trust that the government will ease its spying program on American citizens, according to a Rasmussen poll.
But 30 percent say it is more likely that the federal government will monitor the calls of innocent citizens, and 49 percent say the level of government surveillance will remain about the same.
Last Friday, Obama tried to reduce public and congressional concerns about the surveillance, announcing that his administration would study ways to "revise and clarify" the Patriot Act, which NSA officials say gives them legal authority to collect huge amounts of data generated by Americans in an effort to thwart terrorists. The surveillance issue has provoked strong debate on Capitol Hill since the extent of the National Security Agency program was revealed earlier this year.
Obama has asked James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, to form an independent panel to review the surveillance programs.
The panel is to issue an interim report within 60 days.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.