As a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., Arizonans agree with anti-terrorism efforts, largely support military action and diplomacy and are willing to forego some civil liberties.
At least that’s what a recent poll conducted by Northern Arizona University’s Social Research Laboratory indicates.
“In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Arizonans are rallying together to oppose terrorism,” a written summary of the poll states. “In a recent survey of the Arizona public, 86 percent of respondents approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president and 92 percent approve of the president’s efforts to fight terrorism.
“Grand Canyon State Poll results also indicate that people are almost equally supportive of diplomacy and military action as part of an anti-terrorism strategy. In order to curb terrorism, many Arizonans say they are willing to give up some individual rights.”
The phone survey for NAU’s Grand Canyon State Poll took place between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2. Four hundred and twelve randomly selected Arizonans participated in this survey for a margin of error of +/-5 percent.
Additional poll results follow:
When asked more specifically about how the United States should respond to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Arizonans expressed support for both diplomacy and military action.
• Eighty-five percent of the public supports diplomatic efforts to bring those responsible for the attacks before a court of law.
• Ninety-one percent of the public supports military action, including the use of ground troops, to punish the terrorists responsible for these attacks.
When asked to choose between diplomatic action and military action, no consensus exists.
• Thirty-one percent of the public favors diplomatic efforts, 40 percent favor military action and 28 percent have no preference between the two.
“It is important to know that people support both diplomatic and military responses to the terrorist strikes against the United States,” said Fred Solop, director of the Grand Canyon State Poll. “The national dialogue is focusing almost solely on military options.
“This is not the time to abandon diplomacy.”
When asked if they support military action against other targets, the numbers drop.
• Eighty percent of Arizonans support military action, including the use of ground troops, to punish countries assisting the terrorists responsible for the attacks.
• Seventy-five percent support military action against countries that assist or shelter terrorists even if those terrorists are not responsible for the recent attacks.
• Sixty-two percent support retaliatory military action even if it results in the killing of innocent civilians.
Solop pointed out Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s recent comment that “Americans may have to accept limitations on civil liberties if the nation is to effectively root out terrorism in our society.”
• Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of Arizonans are willing to give up some individual rights if this means living more securely in a world without terrorism.
Levels of support for sacrificing individual rights decline, however, when specific cutbacks on personal liberties in the United States are mentioned. This pattern is similar to that found by recent national studies.
• Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Arizonans support allowing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct assassinations overseas when pursuing suspected enemies of the United States.
• Allowing police to randomly stop people who may fit the profile of suspected terrorists is supported by 63 percent of Arizonans.
• Sixty percent support allowing the CIA to hire known criminals to help pursue suspected terrorists overseas.
• Fifty-nine percent support requiring all U.S. citizens to carry a national identity card to be shown to a police officer on request.
Smaller proportions of Arizonans support measures that infringe more directly on personal freedoms within the United States.
• Thirty-eight percent would give the U.S. government the power to read mail, e-mail or tap telephones without a person’s knowledge.
• Thirty-six percent of the public supports requiring Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to carry a special I.D. card.
• Twenty-two percent would allow the U.S. government to take legal immigrants from unfriendly countries to U.S. internment camps during times of crisis.
Although these last numbers relating to mail, e-mail, phone tapping, I.D cards for Arabs and internment camps drop considerably, they still seem startling. Once any of these measures are openly condoned, they will probably become permanent fixtures.
Ours is a nation built on civil liberties, liberties we should be very careful about forgoing.
True, these are frightening times. The Sept. 11 attacks prove America is not nearly so invincible as many thought. Still, infringing on individuals’ civil liberties will only chip away at the very core of freedoms vital to our country’s existence.