Most say U.S. will always face terrorism threat

poll graphic for 9/11 poll, 9/8/11 CBS

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

Ten years the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, most Americans believe their country will always have to live with the threat of terrorism, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds. But they don't expect a terrorist attack anytime soon.

Eighty-three percent of Americans say the terror threat will always exist. Yet time has dimmed their expectations for another attack: 55 percent say it is not likely that the United States will face a terror attack in the next few months. Only nine percent say such an attack is very likely, while 33 percent call it somewhat likely. And just two percent say an attack in their area is very likely in the next few months - including 10 percent of New Yorkers.

In October 2001, 53 percent of Americans said an attack within months was very likely, and just 10 percent called it unlikely. In surveys in both 2003 and 2010, about one in four Americans called another attack in the following months very likely.

Today, 68 percent of Americans say they feel personally safe from an attack. That's up from 54 percent in 2006 and 48 percent in 2002.

Americans are split on whether the government has done enough to keep the United States from another attack - 46 percent say yes, and 48 percent say no. Those figures nonetheless reflect improved perceptions from 2006, five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, when 58 percent said the government had not done enough.

A slim majority of Americans - 54 percent - say the nation is prepared to deal with another attack. Thirty-seven percent say it is not.

CBSNews.com special report: 9/11 10 years later

About one in four Americans say improved security at airports has made Americans a lot safer, and another 44 percent say airport security has made things somewhat safer. Fewer say improved security at nuclear plants has made things a lot safer - 18 percent - and an even smaller percentage (13 percent) say improved security at bridges and tunnels has made things a lot safer.

Asked if security measures in New York City subways are sufficient, 57 percent of New Yorkers said no.

Twenty-two percent of Americans say the killing of Osama bin Laden has made them safer, but 67 percent say they have felt no change as a result of the death of the terrorist leader. While 32 percent say his death brought closure, 65 percent say it did not.

Civil Liberties

Roughly one in two Americans say their government has struck the right balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties in the years since the attacks. Twenty-five percent say it has gone too far in restricting civil liberties, while 17 percent say it has not gone far enough.

Two in three support the government monitoring the phone calls of those it deems suspicious, but just 26 percent say the government should monitor the phone calls of ordinary Americans. After the attacks in 2001, 45 percent supported the government monitoring the calls of ordinary Americans.

The percentage of Americans who say airport security personnel are going too far has risen from 4 percent in early 2002 to 23 percent today. But most Americans - 59 percent - say airport security personnel are generally doing the right thing. And 12 percent say they aren't doing enough.

Iraq, Afghanistan and the "War on Terror"

Roughly half of Americans say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - which were meant to help make America safer - have not had an impact on the threat of terror in the United States. About 30 percent, meanwhile, say the wars have actually increased the threat of terrorism. Only about 15 percent say the wars have decreased the terror threat.

As for who is winning the "war on terror": 38 percent say the United States and its allies are winning, 9 percent say the terrorists are winning, and about half say neither side has the upper hand. Back in 2003, a majority of Americans said the United States and its allies were winning.

Poll: 1 in 3 think Muslim Americans more sympathetic to terrorists than other Americans
Americans no longer more optimistic than pessimistic
More than 4 of 5 Americans says U.S. is fundamentally changed since 9/11
Read the full poll (PDF)


The national poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,165 adults, interviewed by telephone August 19-23, 2011. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the complete sample. The error for subgroups is higher.

The New York City poll was conducted among a citywide random sample of 1,027 adults, interviewed by telephone August 9-15, 2011. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the complete sample. The error for subgroups is higher.

The friends and family poll was conducted among a nationwide sample of 246 adults who say a close friend or family member was killed on 9/11, interviewed by telephone August 11-23, 2011. 854 respondents fitting this description were identified in previous CBS News and CBS News/New York Times Polls conducted since late 2010 and were called back for this survey. The results for the 246 adults responding to the callback were weighted to demographic targets based on all of the 854 who were called. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus six percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

All three samples included standard land-lines and cell phones. These poll releases conform to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.