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Poll: Americans Concerned WikiLeaks Dump will Hurt the U.S.

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Of those Americans who heard about the website WikiLeaks' massive release of secret State Department documents, most think the incident will have damaging impact on U.S. relations overseas, a new CBS News poll shows.

About three-quarters of the public has heard about the Wikileaks release, and of those Americans, 60 percent believe it will have a damaging impact.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has cast his site as a place for whistle-blowers and said he released more than a quarter of a million State Department cables in the name of transparency.

The White House said the release of the documents does not diminish the United States' role as a leader in global affairs. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the release disrupted the diplomatic process, and she worked the phones in the wake of the document dump to ensure that U.S. foreign relations remained intact.

The CBS News poll found agreement from across the political spectrum on the impact of the document release. Seventy-four percent of Republicans say it will hurt the U.S., as do 52 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents.

In general, most Americans do not think the public has the right to know everything the government does, if secret information concerns national security. Only one in four thinks everything should be public, even if it might affect national security.

Democrats (30 percent) are more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to say the public has the right to know everything the government does.

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This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,067 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone November 29-December 2, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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