Poll: OKC Bombing, 10 Years Later

Jerry Parker's memorial chair is decorated with flowers Sunday, April 17, 2005 at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Site, two days before the tenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. There are 168 chairs for the people killed in the bombing. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter) AP

Ten years after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, just 46% of Americans think similar acts can be prevented in the future. Pessimism has increased since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks – before then, a majority felt acts like Oklahoma City could be prevented.

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Congress passed the USA Patriot Act to help prevent terrorism but many are not convinced this is the right answer. They think the act goes too far and poses a threat to civil liberties.

The public is now divided on whether events like the Oklahoma City bombing can be prevented from happening again. 46% think we've learned from that attack and can prevent similar attacks in the future, but the same number say such events are not preventable. In 2000, on the fifth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, 55% of Americans thought such an attack could be prevented from happening again.

CAN ACTS LIKE OKLAHOMA CITY BE PREVENTED?

Now
Can be prevented
46%
Can NOT be prevented
46%


4/2000
Can be prevented
55%
Can NOT be prevented
38%

The USA Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, which is set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress renews it, expanded the wiretapping authority of U.S. intelligence agencies and strengthened penalties for those aiding terrorists.

Today, 41% of Americans have heard or read about the USA Patriot Act (13% have heard a lot about it), but 57% have heard little or nothing about it.

Among those who have heard or read about the USA Patriot Act, 49% say it is a necessary tool that helps the government find terrorists, but nearly as many – 45% - say the act goes too far and is a threat to civil liberties. The public is more closely divided on this issue than they were last year.

THE USA PATRIOT ACT IS A …
(Among those who've heard a lot or some about the USA Patriot Act)

Now
Necessary tool
49%
Threat to civil liberties
45%

4/2004
Necessary tool
52%
Threat to civil liberties
42%

There are partisan differences on this question. Republicans say the Patriot Act is a necessary tool for fighting terror, while Democrats and Independents think it threatens civil liberties.
  • Joel Roberts

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