Americans Divided On Antiterror Security Measures


A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found a public with definite and nuanced views about security and civil liberties in an age of terrorism, USA Today reports. Most Americans are willing to walk through a metal detector before entering an office buildings, but they oppose letting police search homes at will. The question of ethnic profiling – for instance, subjecting U.S. citizens who are Arabs to more stringent airport screenings – divides the public and provokes a sometimes anguished debate. Alan Baron, 63, a lawyer from Washington, D.C., says, “We are at war.” What about tougher screenings for Arabs at airports? “I hate to say it, I agree with that. Look at London: Several people there (involved with the bombings) were British citizens.” Tami Martin, 37, of Alexandria, Va., disagrees: “I have been myself and especially males in my family and friends have been racially profiled and searched,” she says. “We call it ‘driving while black.’ ”

After the London bombings, police in New York began random bag searches on the subways. The New York Civil Liberties Union plans to file a lawsuit today, arguing that the bag checks violate the Constitution. The USA Today poll found a split over whether to allow police to stop people on the street at random and ask for ID. Random searches on the street were opposed. The survey found support for requiring all Americans to carry a national ID card, but narrow opposition to requiring Arabs, including those who are citizens, to carry special IDs.


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