In another performance measure, the public roughly divides on whether or not the United States has to capture or kill Osama bin Laden for the war on terrorism to be a success: Fifty-one percent say it's not necessary, 45 percent say it is. This number fluctuated in 2001-2003 polls; in September 2003 more, 62 percent, called it necessary.
SECURITY and PRIVACY -- In the contest between the competing aims of security and privacy, security continues to prevail. By a 2-1 margin, Americans say it's more important right now for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy, than for it to avoid intruding on privacy, if that limits its ability to investigate terrorism.
That doesn't mean people don't value their privacy; rather that they'll tolerate limited and targeted intrusions if and when necessary to combat terrorism effectively. Indeed while six in 10 think the government currently is intruding on some Americans' privacy rights, most of them also think those intrusions are justified. A net total of 24 percent see government intrusion that they think is unjustified -- slightly down from early this year.
Some possible security measures are divisive: The public splits about evenly on security profiling -- whether the authorities should be permitted to use characteristics such as religion, ethnicity or nationality in deciding whom to search in security lines at airports or other locations. Forty-seven percent say it should be allowed; 49 percent say not.
Security that inconveniences everyone equally, however, is much more accepted. Eighty-five percent of Americans say they'd support new airport security measures even if they caused long delays in air travel; 62 percent say they'd "strongly" support such measures. That support and intensity are lower now than immediately after 9/11 -- but their still-high levels today show again how the attacks continue to resonate in U.S. public opinion.
METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 5-7, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.