Poll: Drone Strikes on American Terror Suspects No Longer Popular

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/james_gordon_los_angeles/6460680949/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/james_gordon_los_angeles</a>

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University released Thursday finds that a plurality of Americans think drone strikes on American citizens suspected of terrorism are illegal. According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans think it is illegal to “target US citizens living in other countries with drones,” while 24 percent think it is legal. The poll nevertheless finds majority approval for the use of drone attacks against “people and other targets deemed to be a threat to the US” whether carried out by the CIA or the military, as long as those targets are not American citizens. 

The poll’s findings seem to be at odds with another survey published last year by the Washington Post, which found that an overwhelming majority of Americans, 89 percent, approve of the use of drones to kill terror suspects abroad, and of those who approve 79 percent also believe it is legal to kill those terror suspects if they are American citizens. Different wording of the relevant questions in each poll may account for the disparate results: The Fairleigh Dickinson poll asks if “Americans living abroad” can be legally targeted, while the Washington Post survey asks whether “suspected terrorists” who “are American citizens living in other countries” can be legally targeted. (Most people think of unmanned drones when they think of targeted killing, but targeted killings can be carried out by other means. The government can also send human assassins to do the job, or fire missiles from ships or manned aircraft.)

Polls are most accurate when aggregated, so it’s still difficult to know exactly how Americans feel about targeted killing. It is possible, however, that increased media scrutiny of the practice has lead to a shift in public opinion.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate