- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Americans give President Bush strong marks for the way he has responded to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, pushing his job-approval scores to the highest levels of his presidency, according to polls conducted earlier this week.

A CBS News survey of 1,041 adults, conducted Sept. 11 and 12, reported that 76 percent of Americans approved of the way that Mr. Bush has handled the government's response to the attacks. That helped raise his job-approval rating to 72 percent, the poll showed. An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll of 618 adults showed that 80 percent approved of Mr. Bush's handling of the crisis and only 8 percent disapproved.

The CBS poll also showed that by a margin of 71 percent to 18 percent, Americans strongly supported U.S. military action against the terrorist groups responsible for the attacks "even if it means innocent people are killed."

Another survey by CNN/USA Today/Gallup found that 94 percent back military action in retaliation against those responsible for the attacks if the groups or countries supporting them are identified.

Still, the CBS poll showed that a majority of Americans surveyed, 54 percent, believe that the attacks were "something that government intelligence agencies should have been able to discover in advance," while 31 percent disagreed with that view.

Nearly nine in 10 Americans, 86 percent, said the attacks were an act of war on the United States, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, and 55 percent said they expected that this was the beginning of a sustained terrorist campaign against America.

An NBC News poll reported that two-thirds of its survey said the attacks were more serious than Pearl Harbor, while 55 percent in the CBS poll believe that the attacks mean that the United States will go to war soon to punish the perpetrators.

The CBS poll also reported that 78 percent expressed confidence (including 45 percent who said "very confident") in the president's ability to manage the crisis. Only 11 percent said they were "not too confident."

There has been speculation among Wall Street forecasters that the economic aftermath of the attacks will tip the already-weakened economy into a recession, but other findings showed that most Americans were more confident of recovery in the long term.

A Harris survey that asked if Americans, in the aftermath of the attacks, would change their financial habits found that 77 percent said they would not spend less and save more; 81 percent said they would not keep more cash on hand; and 99 percent said they would not sell the stocks they own.

But the survey did find that 80 percent of Americans, shaken by the magnitude of the terrorist attacks, were "willing to give up personal freedoms for more security at public places," like airports.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll also found that 66 percent would be "willing to surrender some of the civil liberties guaranteed Americans in order for the government to crack down on terrorism," while 24 percent said they would not and 10 percent had no opinion.

Asked if they would be afraid to fly in an airplane in the next few days, 64 percent said they would, according to the Harris poll, and 36 percent said they would not. But when asked if they would be afraid to fly in "the next few months," 63 percent said no versus 37 percent who said yes.

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