Poll: Americans Starting to Doubt War

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans' doubts about the war on terror are starting to grow, despite their continued overwhelming support of President Bush and the military attacks on Afghanistan, a poll suggests.

They're starting to question how well the government can protect its citizens, whether the international alliance will hold, and whether the U.S. will capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

The CBS-New York Times poll indicated that 18 percent now have a ``great deal of confidence'' the government can protect its citizens, compared with 35 percent in late September.
The poll comes as government officials warned Monday that Americans should be on alert for another terrorist attack that could come this week.

The poll showed people were about evenly split on whether the government is telling people what they need to know about anthrax — an area where the government has received sharp criticism.

It also suggested that a majority, 53 percent, now think another terrorist attack is likely — up from a third a month ago. And a shrinking number think the war is going very well — down slightly to a fourth of Americans.

The public still overwhelmingly approves of the job being done by the president — 87 percent — and four of five approve of his handling of the war on terrorism.

But undercurrents in the survey suggest — for the first time — a growing nervousness and unease about the anti-terror campaign. Only a fourth now think the military will kill or capture suspected terrorist bin Laden, compared with almost four in 10 three weeks ago. Three in 10 think the international alliance will hold, compared with almost half earlier this month.

But the poll suggests the general outlook on the anti-terror campaign is still upbeat — with just over four in five — saying the anti-terror campaign is going at least fairly well.

Americans' concerns about terrorism in their own communities has dropped in the last month — from four in 10 then to a fourth now who worry about attacks where they live.

And support for the military attacks in Afghanistan remains very high — with almost nine in 10 supporting them. A majority expected the war to last a year or longer and say it will be worth it even if several thousand U.S. troops are lost.

The poll of 1,024 adults was taken Thursday through Sunday and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Some other findings:

—The public's nervousness has dropped since the days after the terrorist attacks. One in five say they feel nervous now, compared to a third after the attacks.

—A third of people said they are spending more time with family and friends since the attacks.

—More than half, 52 percent, favor having airport security staff hired and supervised by the federal government, while four in 10 say they should only be federally supervised. That issue is currently being debated by Congress.

—The ``rally effect'' that pushed up most measures of public opinion about the nation's direction appears to be receding a bit. Six in 10 now say the country is headed in the right direction, compared to seven in 10 soon after the attacks.

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