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Last Updated

30 Nov 2002

Source: Associated Press, June 11, 2002.

Poll: Most Americans Want Security

By JENNIFER L. BROWN, Associated Press Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Four in five Americans would give up some freedoms to gain security and four in 10 worry terrorists will harm them or their family, a new Gallup poll shows.

About one-third of those polled favor making it easier for authorities to access private e-mail and telephone conversations. More than 70 percent are in favor of requiring U.S. citizens to carry identification cards with fingerprints, and 77 percent believe all Americans should have smallpox vaccinations.

"It was amazing the percentage of people who are willing to give up freedom to get back some sense of personal security,'' said Elaine Christiansen, senior research director for The Gallup Organization. "These aren't people who were necessarily near the twin towers, near the Pentagon, near the Murrah building. These are average people.''

The telephone survey, conducted in March, included 934 people across the country. Researchers also polled about 500 people in each of three cities where terrorist attacks occurred -- New York City, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City -- to compare results with the general population survey.

The poll showed 8 percent of Americans are very worried and 31 percent are somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will become victims of a terrorist attack in the United States. In New York City, the level of worry is higher -- 19 percent said they are very worried and 34 percent said they are somewhat worried.

Washington, D.C, and Oklahoma City reported levels of fear close to the national average.

Scientists involved in the poll said they were not surprised many Americans remain fearful after Sept. 11.

"The magnitude of the event was just so profound,'' said Carol North, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who said talk of the war in Afghanistan, airline security and terrorist threats is propelling the fear.

The study was co-sponsored by The University of Oklahoma psychiatry department through a grant from the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The main survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, while the margin of error for the survey in the three cities is plus or minus 4 percentage points.