Poll: Most Americans Approve of Drone Strikes on Terrorist Groups
The AP-Gfk survey is the latest in several years of data showing broad support among the U.S. public for a targeted killing program begun under President George W. Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama.
WASHINGTON – Nearly three-quarters of Americans say it’s acceptable for the United States to use an unmanned aerial drone to kill an American citizen abroad if that person has joined a terror organization, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
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A majority, 6 in 10, supports the use of drones to target terrorists in general. Only 13% oppose the use of drones, the poll said, and another 24% don’t feel strongly either way.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted April 23-27, in the days after President Obama publicly apologized for a CIA drone strike in Pakistan that inadvertently killed American hostage Warren Weinstein and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto. The strike also killed Ahmed Farouq, an American citizen who was an al-Qaida planning leader. Another strike killed Adam Gadhani, an American citizen who joined al-Qaida and became Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman.
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The survey is the latest in several years of data showing broad support among the U.S. public for a targeted killing program begun under President George W. Bush and expanded dramatically under Obama. While the U.S. once condemned Israel for targeted killing from the air, such operations are now the centerpiece of American counterterrorism policy, and they enjoy widespread public backing.
Support for targeted killing with drones crosses party lines, the new poll found. Nearly 6 in 10 Democrats favor using drones to bomb members of terrorist groups, while only 16% are opposed. Among Republicans, 72% are in favor and only 10% are opposed. Independents are more ambivalent, with 45% in favor and 12% opposed; 37% are neutral on the issue.
Just 47% of Americans think it’s appropriate to use drones to target terrorists overseas if innocent Americans might be killed in the process. More than 4 in 10 (43%) of those who initially said they favor using drones – or that they didn’t favor or oppose using them – said it’s unacceptable to use drones if innocent Americans could be killed.
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