The survey randomly polled 1,005 Americans between Dec. 7 and Monday, giving results with a 3-percentage-point margin of error.
Of those asked, 66 percent felt that the FBI and other, similar agencies were intruding on some American's rights to privacy during their investigations, compared to 58 percent in a September 2003 poll. Compared to earlier polls, the respondents were less likely to report that they felt the government was adequately protecting the right to privacy as it investigated terrorism. For example, twice as many respondents said the need to investigate terrorism is less important than the right to privacy than respondents to a June 2002 survey. The 2006 poll found that nearly two thirds of respondents still feel the reverse is true, but that number is down from 79 percent in 2002.
Half of those surveyed were asked if they felt that Congressional hearings should be held concerning the way the Bush administration has handled terrorism related issues such as surveillance and detainees. Fifty-two percent responded that such hearing should be held.
"I don't think you can view these polling results in isolation from an overall phenomenon, which is that people are more skeptical of the government's conduct of the war on terrorism," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and professor in Georgetown University's Security Studies Program.
Hoffman said the results could be a blow to government agencies seeking support for their post-Sept.-11 antiterrorism powers. Only 51 percent of the respondents reported that they felt the government's intrusive tactics were justified, down 12 percent from 2003.