Americans oppose the publication of leaked American diplomatic documents made by the website WikiLeaks, and would like those responsible to be prosecuted. But, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, while a plurality opposes the publication of these leaks, many don't object to news organizations publishing government secrets - if they are obtained through the regular reporting process.
By 49% to 21%, Americans want to prosecute Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks website. By 62% to 16%, they want to prosecute those who leaked the documents to him. They applaud Amazon.com's decision to stop hosting the WikiLeaks website.
Do you support the following actions:
|Support||Neither support, nor oppose||Oppose||Not sure|
Prosecution of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks
Prosecution of individuals who leak information to WikiLeaks
Amazon.com's decision to stop hosting the WikiLeaks Web site
Computer hackers trying to disrupt access to the WikiLeaks Web site
The decision by major media outlets to publish the leaks
But they are relatively closely divided on whether they approve of hacker attacks attempting to shut down the WikiLeaks site. 31% approve of this; 37% do not. And although they disapprove of the news media reporting on these leaks (44% to 29%), by a similar - but reversed - margin, they would allow the news media to publish government secrets learned through ordinary reporting.
Americans worry about the impact of the leaks: by 54% to 3%, they say the leaks will hurt the State Department's ability to do its job, and more than half are worried that this round of leaks will lead to less sharing of intelligence information among government departments (something the government has been emphasized since the 9/11 attacks).
But the bottom line is that Americans disapprove of these leaks, just as they did last summer, when WikiLeaks released documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan. Today, those aware of WikiLeaks (about eight in ten Americans) disapprove by a margin of 56% to 19%.
Photo courtesy of Stiksa