The number of Americans who say the government should do whatever it takes to protect its citizens against terrorism —even if it means violating civil liberties — has dropped almost in half since the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
In January 2002, 47% of respondents said they were willing to have the government violate their "basic civil liberties" in order to prevent additional acts of terrorism. When asked last month, only 25% said they favored such a trade-off.
"The government's into everything — pat-downs at the airport. We don't need any more interference in our lives," says Denise Moore, 39, of Kansas City, Mo.
The latest poll was conducted a month before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. In another contrast with the national mood 10 years ago, far fewer Americans now say that "the Muslim world considers itself at war with the U.S."
In March 2002, 71% agreed with that statement. Nine months later, that proportion had dropped to 60%, and today it's down to 55%.