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?
|Don't know||44||12.57 %|
What statement best describes your opinion of the proposal to organize disparate federal agencies under one roof?
|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:
|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?
|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:
|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?
|Much more prepared||62||17.66 %|
|Somewhat more prepared||126||35.9 %|
|No more prepared||151||43.02 %|
|No opinion||12||3.42 %|