Poll: Americans Skeptical About National Security

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Americans think that security is lax at the country's airports, borders and nuclear power plants according to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll.

Months after formal steps were taken strengthening U.S. airport security, a majority (58 percent) thinks security needs to be tightened and less than one-third (31 percent) think it is tight enough. In addition, the public is skeptical about whether the newly instituted random frisks and bag searches are worthwhile. While 45 percent think these are effective preventative measures, 41 percent think the frisks and searches are "mostly for show."

Another area where Americans are skeptical about security is at U.S. nuclear power plants. Only 15 percent think security at these plants is adequate, and 65 percent think it needs to be tightened.

Finally, regarding the country's borders, 27 percent say our borders are secure while 60 percent say the government should be doing more. These numbers show a slight decline in the public's confidence in security of the nation's borders.  In November, 31 percent said the borders were secure and 54 percent thought the government should be doing more.

"These numbers suggest that the government needs to do more to convince people that all the huffing and puffing is actually doing some good," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Unfortunately every new measure seems to be followed by news stories about people waltzing through airport security with knives and guns while the guards are busy frisking an 80 year old man with an artificial hip; each story undermines confidence in any real security progress."

Of course the public's focus on these security matters is due to the September 11 terrorists attacks that are thought to be masterminded by Usama bin Laden. Most Americans think that bin Laden is alive today (74 percent, 10 percent think he's dead). But few Americans agree (11 percent) with Representative Cynthia McKinney's suggestion that President Bush knew about the attacks ahead of time. Fully 75 percent of the public think McKinney's theory is just "crazy."

Polling was conducted by telephone April 16-17, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. Do you think security at U.S. nuclear power plants is tough enough, or does it need to be tightened?

2. Do you think U.S. airport security is tough enough, or does it need to be tightened?

3. Do you think the random frisks and bag searches at airport security checkpoints are mostly for show, or are they effective ways to prevent future terrorist attacks?

4. Do you think the federal government is doing enough to secure the country's borders?

5. Do you think Usama bin Laden is still alive?

6. Last week, a Democratic Congressional Representative from Georgia, Cynthia McKinney, suggested that President Bush had advance warning of the September 11 terrorist attacks and kept quiet about it so his friends and family could make money from their oil interests. Do you think Representative McKinney's theory that President Bush knew about the 9/11 attacks ahead of time is correct or is it just crazy?