Terrorism, Surveillance, and Police Powers: An Analysis of Political Ideology and Trust in Government
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement in the United States began to employ powers and tactics that infringe upon the civil liberties of the suspects that they targeted. Though some of these uses have been challenged and reversed in the courts, there is still a portion of the population that believes that tactics like these, even up to torture, have been justified to combat terrorism. This study seeks to use General Social Survey data about people‚Äôs views of the use of expanded police and surveillance powers to combat terrorism to compare these with people‚Äôs age, sex, race, education, political ideology, and trust in different branches of the government. This will improve our understanding of who puts more emphasis on security over civil liberties when it comes to terrorist suspects. Through this analysis, it is found that political ideology was not as important as was thought in the literature. It was found that confidence in the military was the strongest indicator of people favoring policies that expanded surveillance and gave increased power to go after terrorist suspects.