Most voters believe President Barack Obama is no better than his predecessor George W. Bush at balancing national security with protecting civil liberties, a new poll for the Hill newspaper finds
According to the survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Feb. 7 by Pulse Opinion Research, 37 percent said Obama was worse than Bush, while 15 percent said he was about the same.
About 21 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of liberals said Obama's administration has not improved over Bush.
Balancing security with civil liberties protections has become even more of an issue in recent days, after a Justice Department white paper surfaced detailing the administration's legal justification for drone strikes on al-Qaida targets. The memo says the government can legally kill Americans with drone strikes if it's determined they have ties to al-Qaida or pose an "imminent threat."
The poll, however, found that voters regardless of party affiliation generally support government strikes against anyone, American citizen or not, that it deems to be a terrorist.
For example, 53 percent of survey participants said it should be legal for the government to kill non-citizens involved in terrorism, and 44 percent said it should be legal to go after Americans believed to be a threat as well. But 31 percent said killing Americans thought to be terrorists should be illegal.
Only 21 percent believed an action should be illegal if the target is a non-citizen, while 31 percent thought killing Americans should be illegal even if they are believed to have ties to terrorism.
An overwhelming number of those polled, meanwhile, said they support the Obama administration's drone program overall, with 65 percent saying it's right to go after “people in foreign countries, whom the U.S. government says are terrorists and present an imminent threat."
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