Poll Finds Public Split on Whether Edward Snowden Is a Hero or Traitor


In August, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "I think Snowden is a traitor, and I think he has hurt our country, and I hope someday he is brought to justice."

The new Reason-Rupe poll finds Americans are sharply divided on how they view the NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. Thirty-nine percent say Snowden is a "traitor for leaking government secrets." Nearly the same number, 35 percent, say he is a "patriot" for letting the public know about the government's surveillance programs. And 16 percent of Americans say they have mixed opinions about Snowden.

Older Americans are much more likely than young people to see Snowden as a traitor. More than half, 52 percent, of those 65 years and older described Snowden as a traitor. Meanwhile, just 30 percent of the 18-34 year-old bracket called him a traitor.  Forty-four percent of 18-34 year-olds said Snowden is a hero.

Republicans and Democrats are nearly identical in their assessment of Snowden, with 32 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of Democrats believing he is a patriot. Independents, however, are far more likely to see Snowden in a positive light, with 43 percent saying he's a patriot. 


Nationwide telephone poll conducted September 4-8 2013 interviewed 1013 adults on both mobile (509) and landline (504) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here.

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  1. Older Americans are much more likely than young people to see Snowden as a traitor. More than half, 52 percent, of those 65 years and older described Snowden as a traitor. Meanwhile, just 30 percent of the 18-34 year-old bracket called him a traitor. Forty-four percent of 18-34 year-olds said Snowden is a hero

    I think those are the stats that matter the most. Younger people being distrusting of the security state is a good thing.

    1. The American people distrust the government today because the government distrusts the people.

    2. But like the young people of the 60s generation, they morph into total, complete and utter statists with zero sense of irony whatsoever.

      1. Way to utterly shatter the inkling of hope these results had given me.

        1. I went from being relatively trustful of the government (in my yute) to nearly universally untrustful. The 60s generation went from less trustful of government to total and utter statists. I can’t explain it. It just is.

          1. Yes, it is interesting.

            IMO it is on account of the government distrust not being a distrust of *system*, but of *personalities*. The 60s generation didn’t like the style of those in power, but fundamentally did not relate this to the substance of government. I see the same thing in this generation: they don’t particularly like what would be seen as a prototypical bureaucrat, but by and large they distrust government because it is not hurtling towards their preferred destructive utopia at a sufficiently rapid pace.

            Some of the smarter ones will realize that governments, rather than the people who run them, are the fly in the ointment. Most will affix their gaze to false hopes and messiahs, and find scapegoats when those don’t pan out.

            1. Middle class young adults’ entire life experience consists of being given food, shelter, and money by their parents, in exchange for following rules. Big government seems natural to them. It’s no surprise that the central political question for such people becomes who’s going to make the rules and feed you.

              In the olden days, rich kids were mainly out to protect their privilege from govt and poor kids were more experienced with the ways of supporting themselves (legally or otherwise), so neither would have been interested in big govt. In these days of crony capitalism and welfare dependency, both rich and poor have an immediate interest in keeping govt big too.

          2. The 60s generation went from less trustful of government to total and utter statists. I can’t explain it. It just is.

            Pretty simple really they hated the government when the Wrong Top Men where in charge. Now they are in charge they are happy.

            I suppose you will next express shock that the Bolsheviks and Nazis became pro-government when they came to power?

      2. Is this true for the starting point, though?

        Cracked.com claims that polls at the time showed more opposition to the Vietnam war among older folk and that young people at the time were generally conservative (or at least trustful of government)

        I’m too young to have experienced it, but couldn’t the hippie culture just have been a very visible fringe in a still conservative youth population?

    3. it blows my mind away. I am really surprised the older people thinks he is a traitor. I figured the older people would have realized and remembered the constitution and what this country is supposed to stand for. I figured the young liberal crowd would have thought he was a traitor.

  2. Polls are stupid. So let’s do one!

    Who has been watching the new season of Always Sunny? And who else thinks it’s been great so far? This week’s was hilarious.

    “It’s strange to have one black friend and not be constantly talking about it.”

    1. I keep forgetting it’s on. I don’t watch FX generally because of the ceaseless commercials, which are almost exclusively about FX shows. Ironic, no?

      Anyway, the Dee hits rock bottom one got me at the end. I didn’t see it coming.

      1. Well, it’s on FXX now, which is a new FX channel, so I think that fooled a lot of people’s DVRs. And why would you ever watch a commercial? Record and fast-forward.

        “The Gang Broke Dee” was a great way to start the season. Yeah, that ending was totally unexpected.

        1. I’ve heard that downloaded pirated versions of TV shows have all the commercials removed.

          1. When I pirate a tv show, I add commercials in.

          2. True, on the free sites I’ve used.

          3. You idiots don’t get what I’m saying. I don’t watch FX because of the commercials which are always about FX shows, but if I did watch these shows I would see the commercials for Sunny and then know to watch it. How much clearer can I be.

            And I don’t know what pirating is.

            1. And today be tark like a pirate day, on top of that. What a shame on ye laddie.

    2. It’s a lot better than the last season, so far.

      Looks like they’ve gotten out of their creative slump.

    3. I just started watching that show this week. I’m halfway through the first season. Genius.

      1. I wish I had time to watch it sooner. And Workaholics.

      2. And it just keeps getting better all the way through season 4, which is kind of the high water mark of Always Sunny, and then seasons 5 through 8 went back down, but this current season (9) is great so far.

        1. I did the first 3 episodes in a row on Tuesday night, and thought there was no way it could possibly get better…

          Episode 1: Racism/Gay Bar
          Episode 2: Abortion Rally/Paternity
          Episode 3: Underage drinking/Prom

          1. Seasons 1-4 are all great, but as the seasons went on they started refining their characters and used that to make scenarios even funnier. Just wait until you get to “The Gang Gets Whacked” or “Manhunters” or “Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person”. And of course, the season 4 finale, “The Nightman Cometh”.

            1. Both of the Nightman episodes are amazing; ditto “The Gang Gets Held Hostage”.

              Pretty much anything in the first four seasons is gold.

    1. Yes, the NYPD would never cook the stats or allow gun crime stats to rise after a judge took away some of their power. Never.

      Also, it’s good to have a reminder of how much of a statist rag the Post is. The writers of the article don’t even question the assertions put forth by the NYPD. Not for a second.

      1. A conspiracy theory. That’s your excuse?

        1. What the fuck are you even talking about? What am I making excuses for? Try to actually be coherent.

        2. You’re a moron. It compared 28 days immediately following the ruling and compared it to 28 days from last year. And you think the difference can be attributed to criminals who would otherwise have been stopped on the streets?

          1. Why address it? It is either a sockpuppet, or beyond all hope.

            1. I don’t think I’ve expected a Marxist to defend stop-and-frisk. WTF?

        3. Conspiracy Theory != untrue

          1. Since when is pointing out that newspapers lie for partisan reasons a conspiracy theory?

    2. 13%% and 9% with a one month sample size? Talk about a meaningless statistic

    3. Even if that was an accurate assertion, unconstitutional is still unconstitutional.

    4. Gun crime up after stop-and-frisk ruling.

      Who cares?

    5. Saudi Arabia: Theft on the rise after amputation law repealed.

    6. Who gives a fuck about gun crime? Is getting killed with a knife somehow preferable to getting killed with a gun?

      Anybody who uses the gun-crime, gun-deaths, gun-anything is a lying sack of shit you can disregard without considering.

  3. More than half, 52 percent, of those 65 years and older described Snowden as a traitor.

    The group that still gets its news from the Big Three, which have been telling them how traitorous it is to tell on the government.

    1. They can’t turn on the gov’t now; their social security checks may be on the line…

    2. There was a time and a place to be rebellious, and that was the 60s and 70s, whippersnapper.

      1. Nostalgia Rebellion just ain’t what it used to be.

        1. Rebelling against a black liberal Democrat is racist.

  4. Independents are more likely to be skeptical of the government? Someone should write a book about these independents…I’m disappointed that they haven’t written one yet.

  5. If the dude that leaked the Pentagon Papers is a hero, why isn’t Snowden a hero?

    Totality of circs? Didn’t follow procedures? Looks funny?

    OT: If I request Emily Ekins do one of those t-shirt ads I’m always seeing, does that make me creepy and weird?

    1. Conduct a Reason-Rupe poll and find out.

    2. Yes, creepy. I second the motion.

  6. Damn young kids mindlessly accepting authority!

    /pissed off old guys here

    1. “Get off my lawn Jungian mother projected onto a police-state apparatus!”

  7. There’s a bit of middle ground between Traitor and Patriot — this poll really should have had another option (besides “Don’t Know”, as moderation is not the same as ignorance).

    He was certainly dishonest in seeking to get the NSA job just so he could leak stuff, then breaking his word and leaking stuff that he had agreed not to, and his international itinerary afterward is troubling to say the least. The surveillance/censorship regime of the PRC makes the NSA look like the EFF, and Putin is a disgusting dictator in every way. So I’m not seeing Patriot here.

    But the stuff he leaked didn’t help any “enemy” in any way. So no to Traitor too.

    1. Leave it to Tulpa to make this post

    2. I agree with Calidissident. You’re being a saggy cunt.

      Dishonesty to NSA is the best thing about all of this. Releasing more stuff in response to the government’s pissy fit is the second best thing. And as far as the countries he went to, he did whay he had to do. Fuck you.

      1. Eh, Tulpa has a point.

        I have no problem with what he has done since releasing the information in seeking asylum abroad, and have come around to thinking that he is a hero for his actions and measured response. Nevertheless, the question is a false dichotomy as presented and I wonder how many of those in the “traitor” column would have switched their answer to “neither” if that had been an option. I am curious what the result would have been if “neither” had been an option in the poll.

        1. I agree with that (although it’s still something that Tulpa would be the person bring up). I was talking more about his reasons for why Snowden isn’t a patriot

          1. You say it like providing an alternative viewpoint is a negative.

            1. When that viewpoint is terribly-reasoned, it is.

              1. So terribly reasoned that the terrible reasoning can’t even be identified, only dismissed out of hand because the world is not ready for such dangerous nonsense.

                1. The terrible reasoning is that you weigh the small sin of lying to your employer (he didn’t work for the NSA, not that it matters) equally with the heroic act of informing hundreds of millions of people of the ways their government is spying on them.

      2. Dishonesty to NSA is the best thing about all of this.

        Someone who lies for you is just as capable of lying against you.

        1. Are you really saying all lies are equal? If you lie to the SS officers about whether or not you’re hiding Jews, does that reflect poorly on your character?

          1. Yawn, we’ve been over this before. The SS has no right to know whether you’re hiding Jews, while a potential employer has every right to know if you’re planning on breaching your contract once you get hired.

            1. When that employer is the government, and they’re breaching their contract with the people they claim to represent, you have every right to expose that, even if it means breaching the contract you made with them.

              1. Well, it’s disputable to say the least whether they’re breaching any contract with the people. It’s kind of weird to see people who insist on literalism when it comes to the commerce clause and the right to bear arms, suddenly turn all Living Constitution when it comes to wiretapping.

                1. What’s Living Constitution about the position I (and virtually everyone on this board besides you) hold on this? Because wiretapping didn’t exist in the 1700s, it’s only covered under a Living Constitution interpretation?

                  1. What’s Living Constitution about the position I (and virtually everyone on this board besides you) hold on this?

                    Because you’re replacing what’s there with what you want to be there.

                    Phone conversations are certainly not houses, persons, or effects. You could try to argue “papers” but that’s mighty stretchy. Not because of any technology; I’d support applying “papers” to electronic records and documents, just as stone tablets, woodcuts, and parchment documents were protected in 1789 despite not being made of paper. But spoken conversations aren’t “papers”.

                    At the very least, treating the unconstitutionality of wiretapping as obvious is uncalled-for, particularly since for 2/3 of the time since the invention of the telephone, wiretapping was seen as perfectly constitutional by SCOTUS.

                    With regard to the parenthetical, go over to Daily Kos and that phenomenon will be reversed. Does that suddenly make your opinion wrong?

                    1. ef?fect
                      plural noun: effects
                      1. a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
                      “the lethal effects of hard drugs”
                      synonyms: result, consequence, upshot, outcome, repercussions, ramifications; More
                      antonyms: cause
                      the state of being or becoming operative.
                      synonyms: force, operation, enforcement, implementation, effectiveness; More
                      the extent to which something succeeds or is operative.
                      “wind power can be used to great effect”
                      a physical phenomenon, typically named after its discoverer.
                      “the Doppler effect”
                      an impression produced in the mind of a person.
                      “gentle music can have a soothing effect”
                      synonyms: impact, action, effectiveness, influence; More
                      2. the lighting, sound, or scenery used in a play, movie, or broadcast.
                      “the production relied too much on spectacular effects”
                      3. personal belongings.
                      “the insurance covers personal effects”
                      synonyms: belongings, possessions, goods, worldly goods, chattels, goods and chattels; More

                    2. Which, again, doesn’t cover phone conversations or emails. They’re not movable goods and aren’t even exclusive possessions.

                    3. Tulpa, you are aware that most of the controversy around the NSA leaks are regarding collection of electronic records and documents, not wiretapping, right? So even if your opinion regarding wiretapping was correct, it would still be irrelevant

                2. It’s kind of weird to see people who insist on literalism when it comes to the commerce clause and the right to bear arms, suddenly turn all Living Constitution when it comes to wiretapping.

                  What the fuck are you talking about you disingenuous cunt?

                  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

                  If they don’t have a warrant or havent specifically identified the place to be searched or the persons or things to be seized, THEY ARE VIOLATING THE CONSTIFUCKINGTUTION you fucking moron. It doesn’t get any more literal than that.

                  Are you claiming that data owned by an internet provider or phone company doesn’t constitute their “effects”?

                  God you are an asshole!

                  1. Effects = possessions

                    So no.

                    1. Fuck you idiot. You are going to claim I can’t own data? You aren’t even worth arguing with. You are as big a piece of shit as buttplug and Tony.

                      You are simply a disingenuous asshole who will argue absolutely anything, just for the sake of having an argument.

                    2. Even if you can own data, you certainly don’t own data that you’re giving away to someone else.

                    3. You are simply a disingenuous asshole who will argue absolutely anything, just for the sake of having an argument.

                      I’ve been totally consistent on this matter, and it aligns with the philosophy evident throughout my posting career at H+R.

                  2. Definition 6 from M-W:

                    plural : movable property : goods [personal effects]

            2. Data is a kind of effect. And what we are talking about is records of communications connections, not conversations themselves. Unless a customer specifically authorizes a company in possession of data (telephone, internet, etc.) to disclose data information, then that company should be assumed to be agents of the client. Agent, meaning they are trusted to protect the information (unless they know that a client has done something wrong), and the government can not demand that information without a warrant. The fact is that most communications companies that have disclosed information have been intimidated or regulated in to disclosing information without warrants. So, fuck Tulpa the Traitor.

            3. “I’d support applying “papers” to electronic records and documents”

              Do you even know that electronic records about call connections (phone numbers, dates, times, durations) are the bulk of the data involved in the NSA spying that Snowden disclosed?

          2. And again I’m amazed by libertarians being pro-fraud.

            1. Breach of contract is wrong, and I won’t pretend otherwise — but implicit in our system of republican governance is the idea that major policy initiatives (esp domestic policy initiatives) be justified to the body politic, whatever that initiative may be. This initiative in particular was sweeping in its scope and concealed from the US public; its existence lied about in testimony to Congress, even. Snowden the employee should not have breached his employment contract arbitrarily. Snowden the citizen and member of the body politic was fully justified in wanting a democratic accounting of the program.

              I would agree that in Manning’s case, the breach of contract outweighed the content, method, and reasons for his release of confidential information. In Snowden’s case, the proportional and measured way in which the information was revealed, as well as the specific information conveyed to the body politic, justified the breach of contract.

              1. This is especially true if you consider the way this program impinges on the 4th Am — you have an alternative viewpoint, fair enough, but myself and many others on the board sincerely believe that the 4th would cover the information being accessed surreptitiously by the NSA.

              2. Well, I don’t think anything justifies breach of contract other than illegal or grossly immoral actions. Nothing he’s reveled the NSA doing was illegal. Immoral, probably not that either.

              3. Breach of contract is wrong

                You may not enter into a binding contract where you’ll be expected to violate the law. You may not enter into a legal contract where you’ll be expected to violate the Constitution. I believe that knowingly working for someone who is breaking the law is akin to aiding and abetting, no?

                I put it to you, that it was Snowden’s duty to bring violations of the Constitution to light. He signed a contract to not disclose legally obtained intelligence. He didn’t sign a contract to not disclose illegally obtained intelligence.

                1. He didn’t sign a contract to not disclose illegally obtained intelligence.

                  Agreed in principle, but there is some ambiguity over why he took the job and to what extent the data he obtained was acquired as a normal part of his duties.

                  Coming across an illegal act and reporting it is a bit different than actively snooping to see if you can catch your employer breaking a law, and I will admit that I don’t have a good way to determine the extent to which the latter course of action is moral.

            2. It’s not pro-fraud dipshit. It’s a matter off adding the positive behavior against the negative. So Snowden loses 1 libertarian purity point for lying to his boss, he gains 50 million purity points for exposing the state corruption. So he’s 49.9 million points in the positive and I love him for it.

        2. Anyone is capable of lying to anyone about anything. So far, Snowden’s lies haven’t been against me so don’t have a reason not to be okay with him. Jeez, you’re such a damn weiner.

          1. TBH I’d be more worried about what truths he’s telling to his new Eurasian patrons.

            1. No. I’m not worried about that. Whatever else happens at this point would not have been likely to happen had Snowden gotten a job with the NSA with the intentions of making unethical practices public, only to find nothing unethical to disclose, thus ending up with nothing more than a boring job at NSA. Since that is not the case, whatever happens now probably serves everyone right, and I will probably find the result entertaining.

            2. Why? I’m more afraid of the US government than the Russian government. And that’s assuming that there was even a crumb of evidence that he had informed them in any way, which there isn’t, but don’t let that stand in the way of your hare-brained speculation.

        3. “Someone who lies for you is just as capable of lying against you.”

          Not if they’re on your side, like Snowden is. In that case, they’re highly unlikely to lie against you.

  8. I wish that the media (including Reason!) would quit worrying about Snowden, and focus on putting an end to the abomination that our government has become.

    1. Well that would be politically impossible. Almost like believing in unicorns. /Suderman.

    2. The government’s persecution of Snowden is a symptom of the abomination they’ve become

      1. I agree that they have been overzealous. If BO wants to show he’s tough on crime, maybe he should go after countries that harbor child rapist movie directors. While I think what Snowden did is wrong and criminal, it’s no worse than 1% of what RP did.

  9. Tonight on CNN they excitedly reported that the same company vetted both Aaron Alexis and Edward Snowden for their security clearances, clearly equating them as evil threats that slipped through the screening process to reek devastation.

  10. Goddammit. These poll results make me ashamed of my age group. I’ve had it. I’m quitting the older age group and moving back to the group where I belong.

  11. “I think Snowden Reid is a traitor, and I think he has hurt our country, and I hope someday he is brought to justice.”

  12. Hero or Traitor?

    No option given for ‘both’ in the survey. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason, right?

  13. That’s probably the same 39% who would root for the pigs in George Orwell’s book Animal Farm.

  14. Ummm

    I would not answer that question.

    I do know what i think of him and it is neither a hero nor traitor. So how the fuck am i supposed to answer that question?

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