Reason-Rupe Poll: 55 Percent of Americans Say We’ve Given Up Too Much Freedom and Privacy in the Name of Security Since 9/11

With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaching, 55 percent of Americans say “we have given up too much freedom and privacy in the name of security” since the attacks, according to a new national Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey of 1,200 adults. 

Nearly, 79 percent of Americans feel we have less privacy now than we did before 9/11 and 62 percent say we have less personal freedom today. However, 81 percent have faith that the security measures implemented since the attacks make us safer overall.

Only 15 percent of the public is “very confident” that the Department of Homeland Security, created following 9/11, will prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Another 40 percent are somewhat confident and 21 percent are slightly confident that the agency will prevent an attack.

When it comes to airport security, 49 percent of Americans believe the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would catch a terrorist trying to board a plane at a U.S. airport, while 44 percent say the TSA would not.  Confidence in the TSA is notably high among Democrats, who, by a margin of 54 percent to 38 percent, believe the TSA would capture a terrorist trying to get on a plane. Conversely, by 51 percent to 45 percent, Republicans do not think TSA screeners would spot a terrorist.

Over 41 percent of the public supports replacing TSA screeners with airport security screeners from private companies who would work under government oversight, but 47 percent of those polled oppose such a change.  Here again, Democratic support for the TSA is noteworthy. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats oppose a return to private security screeners, with only 30 percent in favor.  In contrast, 55 percent of Republicans support privatizing airport security screeners and 35 percent oppose doing so.

As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, just 19 percent of Americans believe leaving U.S. troops in Afghanistan until at least 2014 will make us safer, while 65 percent think it will make no difference in our safety and 12 percent contend it will make us less safe.

In evaluating the war in Iraq, 62 percent of Americans say the war has not been worth it for the United States. 

And a nearly identical number of Americans, 61 percent, say the United States uses its military force in too many foreign conflicts. Twenty-five percent say the US military is used in the “right amount” of foreign conflicts and 9 percent say the military is not used enough.

Full Poll Online

The complete Reason-Rupe survey is online here (pdf).

This Reason-Rupe poll, conducted August 9-18, 2011, surveyed a random, national sample of 1,200 adults by telephone (790 on landlines, 410 on cell phones). The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted for Reason Foundation by NSON Opinion Strategy.

This is part of a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues.  This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Confidence in the TSA is notably high among Democrats, who, by a margin of 54 percent to 38 percent, believe the TSA would capture a terrorist trying to get on a plane. Conversely, by 51 percent to 45 percent, Republicans do not think TSA screeners would spot a terrorist.

    As a possible confounding factor, do Democrats or Republicans on average fly more or less? My recollection from previous surveys is that the more people fly, the less respect they have for the TSA.

  • Mainer||

    If someone doesn't fly with some frequency (say at least 3 or 4 times a year), then their opinion of the TSA is meaningless. A survey of one (me) shows 100% say a determined team of terrorists absolutely could get past the TSA.

  • ||

    Yes, but it's an important qualification. Support for intrusive scans and the TSA in general is much higher among people who don't fly.

  • sarcasmic||

    Who is more likely to be an authority worshiper? D or R.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||


  • Homeland Security since 1492||

    L P

    Privation Property is authority worship of the Land LORD.

  • Suki||

    How about a poll of H&R regulars?

  • ||

    We have given up too much freedom.

    You can stop there. Since 911, before 911, since 1900. Whatever - the answer is the same.

  • Benjamin Franklin||

    "No European who has tasted Savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." ~Benjamin Franklin

    (savage, lit. "of the woods," from silva "forest, grove")

  • ||

    I must have tasted it somewhere by mistake. This is pretty unbearable.

  • Old Mexican||


    The white imbecile here seems to bear it very well, considering the stains he left in his computer desk seat at his mom's basement...


  • ||

    I'm a 45-year-old businessman who deals with various tax collectors and regulators daily. Haven't lived with Mommy in a quarter century.

  • Apatheist||

    Interesting, but his comment wasn't directed at you. Notice how it wasn't indented from your reply?

  • ||

    Benjamin Franklin is the white imbecile? Did he invent the computer desk?

  • Highway||

    Typical responder:

    "Oh yeah, we've totally given up too much freed... wait a sec, who's that guy over there, taking a picture of the school building? He must be a terrorist! I think he's gonna blow it up! Call the FBI!"

  • 2O||

    either a pedophile or school re-building contractor

  • ||

    Or a photographer.

  • ||

    he's lighting a cigarette within 1000 ft of a school, daycare center or church!
    Shoot the Dog!

  • CE||

    and 9 percent say the military is not used enough.

    So they called 11 guys, and one of them was John McCain?

  • Homeland Security since 1492||

    Being that the agricultural City-State (civilization) is observed for its whole existence to be externally invasive and internally repressive, what did you expect?

    Resist or Die.

  • Almanian||


  • np||

    So basically while the majority agree that we have less privacy and less freedom now... they also say it was all worth it?


  • Land LORD, Air LORD||

    Propertarians worship the authority of the Land LORD, so why can't you accept that other people worship the authority of the Air LORD?

    Either are as moral and legitimate as the other.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The system worked! And it will continue to work as it has worked.

  • Old Mexican||

    In one of those "No shit, Sherlock!" moments people have...

  • Just think of all those jobs..||

    ....that George and Barry have created: an entrenched pecker-and-tit-grabbing bureaucracy.


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