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How do Americans feel about NSA surveillance? Ambivalent

When terrorists strike, intelligence agencies are faulted for failure to 'connect the dots.' If that's what the NSA is trying to do with its mass surveillance of phone records and Internet use, how do Americans feel about that?


President Barack Obama gestures at a press conference Friday in San Jose, Calif. Speaking about the NSA collecting phone records, the president said "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," just numbers and duration.

Evan Vucci/AP

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Every time foreign-influenced attackers successfully strike the United States – the mass shooting at Ft. Hood, the Boston Marathon bombing – government agencies are faulted for failure to “connect the dots.”

Why weren’t US Army Maj. Nidal Hasan’s e-mail contacts with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (the American-born imam later killed in a US drone attack in Yemen) seen as reason enough to possibly head off Hasan’s killing 13 people at the Army post in Texas?

Why weren’t the Tsarnaev brothers’ possible links to radical Islam – including older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s six-month trip to Russia, where he spent considerable time in the Islamic republics of Chechnya and Dagestan – enough to tip off the FBI to investigate further? Shortly after that trip, Tamerlan began posting YouTube videos exhorting jihad.


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