A newly released poll commissioned by The Hill finds that Barack Obama is either worse or no better than his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, at balancing national security against civil liberties:
Thirty-seven percent of voters argue that Obama has been worse than Bush while 15 percent say he has been ‘about the same.’
The results cannot be fully explained as party line responses. More than one in five self-identified Democrats, 21 percent, assert that the Obama administration has not improved upon Bush’s record. So do 23 percent of liberals.
The results are especially striking given the liberal hopes that attended Obama’s election, the opprobrium he heaped upon Bush’s national security policies during the 2008 campaign and his early promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
The poll reflects a wave of negativity toward Obama’s use of unmanned drone strikes to neutralize al Qaeda members in the face of a Justice Department “white paper” leaked last week that attempts to provide justification for killing U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.
A significant proportion of respondents — 26 percent and 24 percent, respectively — said they were not sure if such attacks should be legal, regardless of whether the target was an American or not.
Still, 65 percent of those queried said they support the use of drones to kill “people in foreign countries whom the US government says are terrorists and present an imminent threat,” while just 19 percent of voters said they oppose the policy.
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