Will the Homeland Be Made Safer?


Americans appear to have mixed feelings about President George W. Bush's proposal to create a new Cabinet department for homeland security -- and about how effective such as department can be. At least, that's the impression left by the 300-plus people who responded to our June 7 Reader Survey.

For instance, while 43% of those who participated support the creation of the new Cabinet department, 44% say they don't. Around 52% think the new department, which would group together agencies employing 169,000 employees that currently are in other departments, will be a "bureaucratic nightmare," vs. the 41% who think it's either the ideal solution or the best way to act quickly.

Some 25% of those who responded think that neither the FBI nor the CIA should be included in the new department -- as the President proposed -- while 43% think that both should be included.

Some 42% think the increased surveillance of all Americans that's inherent in the new plan amounts to "an abuse of federal power," though 19% see no problem with such prying, and 33% think it's not ideal, but is necessary.

Once the President's changes are in place, 54% of the repondents think the government will be much more or somewhat more prepared to fend off terrorist attacks, though 43% think it will be no more prepared.

Finally, a clear majority -- 60% -- would prefer to see Congress thoroughly debate the merits of the new plan, while 31% would opt instead for less debate and quick action.

Here are the full details of the survey, which, as always, wasn't a scientific poll, since anyone who wished to could participate:

Do you support the President's proposal to create a new Cabinet department for homeland security?

Option

Total

%

Yes

152

43.43 %

No

154

44.00 %

Don't know

44

12.57 %

What statement best describes your opinion of the proposal to organize disparate federal agencies under one roof?

Option

Total

%

It's the right solution

67

19.09 %

It isn't ideal, but it's the best way to get something done quickly

76

21.65 %

It'll be a bureaucratic nightmare

183

52.14 %

No opinion

25

7.12 %

The new department, as described by the President, would include neither the FBI nor the CIA. Do you think:

Option

Total

%

Neither should be included

89

25.5 %

The CIA should be included

20

5.73 %

The FBI should be included

37

10.6 %

Both should be included

150

42.98 %

No opinion

53

15.19 %

Would you prefer to see a thorough debate over such issues in Congress, or quick bipartisan approval, with the details to be tied up later?

Option

Total

%

Thorough debate

210

60.17 %

Quick action

107

30.66 %

No opinion

32

9.17 %

As part of its homeland-defense effort, the government will have expanded surveillance powers over both U.S. citizens and visitors to the country. Do you think this is:

Option

Total

%

Fine

67

19.09 %

Not ideal, but necessary

116

33.05 %

An abuse of federal power

147

41.88 %

No opinion

21

5.98 %

Once all the proposed changes are in place, how much more prepared do you think the government will be to fend off terrorism?

Option

Total

%

Much more prepared

62

17.66 %

Somewhat more prepared

126

35.9 %

No more prepared

151

43.02 %

No opinion

12

3.42 %


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