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Most Americans Support Sudan, Afghanistan Strikes

But a new poll shows about a third of public wonders about the timing

By Keating Holland/CNN

WASHINGTON (Aug. 21) -- Two-thirds of all Americans approve of the U.S. military attacks on alleged terrorist-related facilities, and 61 percent have confidence in President Bill Clinton as a military leader, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

But nearly half -- 47 percent -- think that Thursday's military strikes will increase terrorist actions against Americans, while 38 percent say the U.S. attacks are more likely to decrease terrorism.

Only a third of all Americans, however, say they are personally worried that they or someone in their family will fall victim to a terrorism.

More than a third of people surveyed -- 36 percent -- think Clinton ordered the attacks partly to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. A majority do not believe that scenario, the subject of last year's popular political movie "Wag The Dog."

Clinton's standing with the public remains strong, but the attacks in Afghanistan and the Sudan have not boosted his ratings. The number of Americans with a favorable opinion of him has not changed since Tuesday night, and the number who approve of how he is handling his job as president has dipped from 66 percent on Tuesday to 61 percent today.

The survey is based on interviews with 628 adults on Aug. 20, and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Here are the numbers:

How confident are you in Bill Clinton as a military leader?

Very confident         29%
Somewhat confident     32
Not too confident      16
Not confident at all   20

How worried are you that someone in your family will become a victim of a terrorist attack?

                       
Very
worried                 10%                                   
Somewhat worried        22                                    
Not too worried         38                                    
Not worried at all      29                                   

As you may know, earlier today [Thursday] the United States launched military attacks against terrorist facilities in the countries of Afghanistan and Sudan. Do you approve or disapprove of those attacks?

 
Approve        66%
Disapprove     19
No opinion     15

In your view, are those attacks more likely to increase or decrease terrorist actions against Americans, either in the United States or abroad?

  
Increase terrorism      47%
Decrease terrorism      38
No effect                5

Why do you, personally, think Bill Clinton ordered the military strikes -- solely because he felt it was in the best interests of the country, or in part to divert public attention away from the Monica Lewinsky controversy ?

Best interests of country         58%                  
Divert attention                  36

Given the president's personal difficulties this week, is it legitimate or not legitimate for members of Congress to question the timing of this military action?

Yes, legitimate      58%
No, not legitimate   36

If it turns out the U.S. military attacks resulted in civilian casualties, which of the following statements would come closer to your view:

Civilian casualties are regrettable but the U.S. was right to attack, or,

The U.S. should not have attacked unless it was certain there would be no civilian casualties.

  U.S. right to attack                    65% 
  
  Should not have attacked
  unless it was certain there
  would be no civilian casualties          27

In Other News

Friday, August 21, 1998

White House Says Clinton Needs Attorney-Client Privilege For Impeachment Fight
Cohen, Albright Brief Lawmakers On Raids
Trial Dates Set For Trie, Kanchanalak
Events Leading Up To Clinton's Order To Strike Back
Poll: Most Americans Support Sudan, Afghanistan Strikes
'Wag the Dog' Back In Spotlight


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