Phone-Records Surveillance Is Broadly Acceptable to Public

There are even sharper differences among these groups in ratings of Bush's and the government's performance in protecting privacy. On both of these, independents and moderates are somewhat more skeptical. However, six in 10 independents and half of Democrats also say that investigating threats currently is more important than protecting privacy; among Republicans, that jumps to 84 percent.

Some of these differences also are reflected in sensitivity about personal records. Just 12 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of conservatives say it would bother them to learn that the NSA had records of their calls. That rises to about four in 10 independents and moderates -- and half of Democrats and liberals.

Republicans and conservatives are much more critical of the media's disclosure of the program -- nearly six in 10 say it was wrong, while, among other Americans, six in 10 or more call it the right thing to do.

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