Published March 04, 2013
American voters approve of the United States using unmanned drones to kill suspected terrorists abroad -- even if the targets are U.S. citizens -- but don’t think the president should be able to order the strikes on his own.
That’s according to the latest Fox News poll.
Overall, 74 percent of voters approve of using drones to kill a suspected terrorist overseas. That includes majorities of Republicans (80 percent), independents (71 percent) and Democrats (69 percent), as well as both men (78 percent) and women (71 percent).
The level of approval drops from 74 percent to 60 percent, however, if the suspected terrorist is a U.S. citizen.
Even when it comes to drone use on U.S. soil, a 56-percent majority of voters approves of such strikes on a suspected foreign terrorist.
Voters, however, disapprove of drone attacks when they are aimed at a U.S. citizen suspected of being a terrorist on U.S. soil. In those circumstances, by a 50-45 percent margin, voters say no.
In each follow-up scenario, Republicans and men are slightly more approving than Democrats and women -- just like in the overall scenario.
Issues about the use of drone attacks emerged from recent Senate confirmation hearings for John Brennan, who has been nominated to head the CIA. Brennan is known as the chief architect of the CIA’s drone program. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is threatening to delay Brennan’s confirmation until he gets more information about the government’s use of drones, including whether the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.” Paul says this brings up serious constitutional issues because if “you’re accused of a crime in America you get your day in court.”
The poll finds that 32 percent of voters think that yes, the president should be able to authorize the use of deadly force domestically against an American terrorist. Still, about twice that many -- 63 percent -- disagree and want checks on the president.
Again, agreement is bipartisan, as most Republicans (70 percent) and independents (70 percent) and a majority of Democrats (54 percent) oppose the president having the sole power under these conditions.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,010 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 25 to February 27. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.