Poll: Public backs more surveillance post-Boston

Sixty-six percent of respondents say a terror attack in the United States is very or somewhat likely in the next few months, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. That figure is up from 37 percent last year. Thirty-one percent say such an attack is not likely to happen again in the next few months. 

Nearly nine of out ten say “Americans will always have to live with the risk of terrorism.”

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Americans strongly support increased use of surveillance cameras, which helped identify the Boston bombing suspects, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Seventy-eight percent back having such cameras on the streets, with 16 percent fearing they would infringe on the public’s privacy.

More than half say authorities have struck an appropriate balance between security and privacy, with 26 percent saying the government has not done enough to address security concerns and 20 percent saying government measures have gone too far toward infringing on civil liberties.

The Tsarnaev brothers last month detonated two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding dozens. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the lone surviving suspect, is in custody and has been charged in connection with the blasts.

Lawmakers have vowed to probe if intelligence agencies could have done more to prevent the bombings and the attacks have led to calls for tougher security measures.

The public is split over whether the Boston attack could have been prevented, with 41 percent saying intelligence agencies had enough information to act and prevent the bombings. Forty-five percent, however, say there was nothing law enforcement could do.

Self-identified Republicans are more likely than Democrats and independent voters to say the intelligence community could have done more to prevent the attacks, by a 48-42 split. Independents say U.S. intelligence agencies could have prevented the attacks by 44-40, while Democrats in a 29-54 split believe the bombings could not have been stopped.

Seventy percent say they are confident in the federal government’s ability to protect them from future terrorism, but that level has dropped since Nov. 2010, with respondents less confident in the ability of state and local authorities to respond to such attacks.

Respondents, however, gave Obama good marks for his actions after the bombings, with 68 approving of his response to Boston, and 20 percent disapproving. Fifty-six percent approve of his handling of terrorism in general, with 35 percent who disapprove. 

Overall Obama has a positive job approval rating with 47 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval.

Eighty-four percent back the way federal and local law enforcement officials have responded.