The United States did the wrong thing when it swapped five Taliban prisoners for a U.S. soldier named Bowe Bergdahl, say 47 percent of voters in a new Fox News poll. Some 36 percent think the U.S. did the right thing. Another nine percent think the U.S. should “never” negotiate with terrorists.
Bergdahl was held by the Taliban for five years after he reportedly walked away from his post in Afghanistan. He was charged by the U.S. military with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy March 25.
Almost a year ago, in May 2014, the Obama administration released five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. At that time, there were questions about how Bergdahl ended up in enemy hands, but no desertion charges had been filed. Voters then were more evenly split over the trade: 45 percent approved, while 47 percent disapproved (June 2014).
Veterans and those currently serving in the military are more likely to say the administration did the wrong thing by releasing Gitmo prisoners for a soldier who had abandoned his post: 55 percent feel that way vs. 47 percent of voters overall.
Fox News Channel’s Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge reports that at least three of the five Taliban prisoners exchanged for Bergdahl have tried to reunite with their terrorist networks.
Meanwhile, fear about an attack here at home is high: 84 percent of voters are concerned Islamic terrorists will try to launch an attack in the U.S. soon. That includes 51 percent who are “very” concerned and another 33 percent who are “somewhat” concerned.
At the same time, six in 10 voters (60 percent) think Obama is “not focused enough” on the fight against Islamic extremists, including a 41-percent plurality of Democrats.
Democrats (27 percent) are almost 10 times more likely than Republicans (3 percent) to say Obama is focusing the right amount of attention on fighting Islamic extremists.
A 61-percent majority approves of President Obama’s decision to delay withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and leave 9,800 troops there through year’s end. That includes 65 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of veterans.
Currently 40 percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing on terrorism, while 54 percent disapprove. That’s up from a record-low 38 percent approval on terrorism in September 2014.
The president’s overall job approval rating stands at 45 percent, while 50 percent disapprove. That’s up from 42-53 percent earlier this month (March 1-3, 2015). A year ago it was 40-53 percent (March 2014).
Views on air travel safety have turned more negative after a plane crash in the French Alps that investigators say was intentionally caused by the co-pilot.
By a 29 percentage-point margin, more people think air travel is safer today than before 9/11. That’s down from a 36-point margin last year (March 2014).
Here are the details behind those numbers:
The poll finds that despite significant coverage of the crash and the co-pilot’s actions, 57 percent of American voters still say air travel is safer than it was before the September 11 terrorist attacks, down two percentage points from 59 percent last year (March 2014).
At the same time, 28 percent think flying is less safe now. That’s up five points from 23 percent in March 2014. For 11 percent of voters the safety of air travel is unchanged since before 9/11.
The crash of the Germanwings jet on March 24 killed all 150 people on board. The co-pilot had apparently suffered from depression.
The Fox News poll is conducted by telephone with live interviewers under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The 1,025 registered voters were reached via landline and cell phone numbers randomly selected for inclusion in this nationwide survey from March 29-31, 2015. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.