Nearly half of Americans believe the U.S. is less safe against terrorism since President Barack Obama took office — and 35 percent say the nation is “much less safe,” a Newsmax/Zogby poll reveals.
The exclusive poll asked: “Do you believe Barack Obama’s policies have made America more or less safe against terrorism?”
The results (figures rounded):
- Much more safe, 16 percent
- Somewhat more safe, 20 percent
- Somewhat less safe, 11 percent
- Much less safe, 35 percent
- No difference, 16 percent
- Not sure, 3 percent
The results of the Newsmax/Zogby poll come as no surprise to Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy and former assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy.
“America is objectively less safe under President Obama,” he said. “By some estimates, we had as many as 14 attempted or successful jihadist attacks on this country during 2009, as opposed to an average of two to three in the previous years since 2001.
“This surge suggests a growing perception on the part of our enemies – those who engage in jihad in the name of what authoritative Islam calls Shariah – that violence and terror will, under present circumstances, advance their goal of destroying America.
“That perception is almost surely rooted in the belief that the Obama administration’s policies and the capabilities of our country under his leadership do not constitute a deterrent to such violent jihad. If such calculations are allowed to continue and grow, we are certain to be still less safe in the future.”
Since the Obama administration took office, a number of factors could be seen as heightening Americans’ fears of terrorist attacks:
- The administration decided to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court in New York rather than in a military court, prompting critics to predict a “public show trial” and sparking concerns about another terrorist attack in the city.
- Just weeks after moving into the White House, Obama signed an executive order to shut down the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay and ordered it closed within a year. The facility remains open, but some detainees have been released and some of those have returned to the battlefield in the Middle East.
- Obama had to accept ultimate responsibility when the so-called underwear bomber incident on Christmas Day exposed serious gaps in the system for detecting and preventing terrorist plots.
- Security at the White House itself was shown to be porous when two uninvited guests crashed an event honoring the prime minister of India.
- Obama’s efforts to seek a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program have produced no results and the Islamic Republic appears more determined than ever to acquire nuclear weapons, which could end up in the hands of terrorists.
- Diplomacy has also failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
- The president dithered for months before finally agreeing to send additional troops to Afghanistan as the Taliban insurgency grew, then drew criticism for setting a date for U.S. withdrawal.
- The administration decided to provide captured terrorist suspects with Miranda rights, which some security experts believe would thwart effective interrogations.
Gen. Michael Hayden, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, did praise Obama for his “continuity” of Bush administration policies, which kept America safe for more than seven years after 9/11.
However, Gen. Hayden said in an exclusive Newsmax interview in late February that the president was wrong for stopping CIA-conducted enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects. He asserted that the techniques have produced “actionable and useful intelligence” and have in fact prevented multiple terrorist attacks.
Editor's Note: See the exclusive Newsmax interview with Gen. Michael Hayden — Go Here Now.
He was also critical of the administration’s reopening of a probe of CIA officers who might have abused suspected terrorists, saying the investigation “would demoralize current CIA officers.”
Hayden took issue with the administration’s decision to release information on the interrogation tactics used under President Bush, saying that making those techniques publicly available would result in them losing “an awful lot of their effectiveness.”
And he told Newsmax that providing terror suspects with Miranda rights is a “mistake” for a nation at war.
The “much less safe” response was chosen by 73 percent of Republicans, and 61 percent of those who believe the U.S. is on the “wrong track.”
Only 5 percent of Democrats think the U.S. is “much less safe, as do 31 percent of independents.
There are also stark differences between conservatives and liberals. Among conservatives, just 3.5 percent of respondents think the U.S. is “much more safe” or “somewhat more safe,” while just 1.4 percent of liberals believe the nation is “somewhat less safe” or “much less safe.”
Respondents ages 18 through 29 are less likely than other age groups to say the U.S. is less safe with Obama in the White House, and men (52 percent) are more likely than women (39 percent) to say America is less safe.
Curiously, Americans who live in rural areas are most likely (60 percent) to say the U.S. is less safe compared to those who live in more likely terrorist targets — large and small cities.
Among income groups, Americans with an annual income of $100,000 or more are most likely (57 percent) to say the U.S. is less safe.
Zogby International was commissioned by Newsmax Media Inc. to conduct an online survey of 3,975 likely voters. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from 2/26/10 to 3/01/10. Slight weights were added to party, age, race, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 1.6 percentage points.
Zogby International, a worldwide research and marketing firm, was founded by John Zogby in 1984. He has been called “prince of pollsters” by radio host Mary Matalin, and “America’s Pollmaster General” by radio legend Barry Gray. He is also a Senior Advisor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
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