Many Americans Differ on Official Accounts of War

Many Americans differ with accounts of the Iraq war offered by two top administration officials, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Public views are largely at odds with Cheney's assessment of the strength of the insurgency in Iraq: While Cheney said in an interview in late May that it's "in its last throes," only a quarter of Americans agree. And while Rice said success in Iraq "will be a death knell for terrorism as we know it," again only about a quarter of the public believes that defeating the insurgents in Iraq would do a great deal to defeat terrorism more generally, beyond Iraq's borders.

These views from a new ABC News/Washington Post poll come amid some broadly negative public views of the war in Iraq. In an ABC/Post poll in early June, 58 percent said they disapproved of the way George W. Bush was handling the situation in Iraq and more than six in 10 felt the U.S. is bogged down there. Today's results are part of a new, more extensive ABC/Post poll on Iraq that will be released in its entirety at 5 p.m. President Bush plans to address the nation on the war on terrorism and the situation in Iraq tomorrow, the one-year anniversary of the handover of power to an interim Iraqi government.

Testing Cheney's statement, this poll asked if respondents think the insurgency in Iraq is getting stronger, weaker, or remaining the same. Most say it's holding steady, 24 percent say it's getting stronger and just 22 percent say it's weakening. Among who think it's weakening or holding steady, a third think the insurgency is on its last legs; that's 25 percent of the full population.

On Rice's statement, a majority, 53 percent, disagrees with the Secretary of State that defeating the Iraqi insurgency will help defeat terrorism more generally. Moreover, only 23 percent said it would do "a great deal" to achieve that end, and just as many said defeating the insurgents in Iraq would accomplish very little or nothing against terrorism more broadly.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

Details follow, full results at 5 p.m.

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone June 23-26, 2005, among a random national sample of 1,004 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork by TNS of Horsham, PA.