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Poll: After Boston, Concern over Another Terror Attack

(CBS) In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, 66 percent of Americans now think another terrorist attack in the U.S. is at least somewhat likely in the next few months, according to a new CBS News/ New York Times poll, up from 37 percent last year.

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Kevin Cirrili, Politico.com


Before the April 15 attack, nearly 12 years had passed without a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Americans are split over whether the bombings could have been prevented, according to the poll, conducted April 24-28. At the same time, they give the president and law enforcement high marks for their response to the attack.

As many as 68 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's response to the bombings, and 56 percent approve of his handling of terrorism generally. However, his overall job approval is lower, at 47 percent -- similar to last month.

Many Republicans give the president credit for his handling of the Boston attacks (47 percent approve), but just 12 percent approve of the overall job Mr. Obama is doing as president.

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Obama: U.S. officials did their jobs investigating Boston bombing suspect


Mr. Obama said Tuesday that law enforcement did an "exemplary job responding to the bombings, and Americans seem to agree: 84 percent said they approve of the way federal and local law enforcement handled the attack.

On the other hand, some think more could have been done to prevent it: 41 percent of Americans think U.S. intelligence agencies had information that could have prevented the bombings at the Boston Marathon, but 45 percent do not. Republicans and independents are more likely than Democrats to say U.S. intelligence could have prevented the attacks.

While investigations into the Boston bombings are ongoing, more Americans (53 percent) think the suspects in the attacks were connected to a larger terrorist group than think they acted alone (32 percent). Americans across the political spectrum are inclined to hold this view.    Most Americans are following news about the Boston bombings, including 45 percent who are following it very closely.


Relatives of the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect will claim his body now that his wife has agreed to release it, an uncle said Tuesday.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body has been at the medical examiner's office in Massachusetts since he died after a gunfight with authorities more than a week ago.

Amato DeLuca, the Rhode Island attorney for his widow, Katherine Russell, said in a statement Tuesday that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev's body and that she wants it released to the Tsarnaev family.

Police said Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition before his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene. His cause of death has been determined but will not be made public until his remains are claimed.

"Of course, family members will take possession of the body," uncle Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "We'll do it. We will do it. A family is a family."

He would not elaborate. Tsarnaev's parents are still in Russia, but he has other relatives on his side of the family in the U.S., including Tsarni.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lies in a prison hospital after being wounded in the shootout with police as he and his brother made their getaway attempt. He is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, a crime that carries a potential death sentence.

DeLuca said Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow met with law enforcement "for many hours over the past week" and will continue cooperating. FBI agents on Monday visited her parents' North Kingstown, R.I., home, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags. Until Tuesday's statement, DeLuca had declined to provide any details about Russell's contact with authorities, except to say that Russell was doing everything she could to assist with the investigation.

In addition to declining to claim the body herself, which is her right as his spouse, Russell has taken other steps to distance herself from Tsarnaev since taking refuge at her family's home on April 19, hours after her husband was killed. Her family released a statement shortly after she was escorted home by federal agents that day saying they "never really knew" Tsarnaev. Russell has also reverted to using her maiden name instead of the name listed on her marriage certificate, Tsarnaeva.

On Tuesday, DeLuca said Russell mourned the loss of life from the bombings.

"Katherine and her family continue to be deeply saddened by the harm that has been caused," DeLuca said.

Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday evening that the state had not yet received Russell's request to release her husband's body.

He said arrangements must be made to release the body and once that happens a death certificate will be filed and the cause of death made public. He said it is too soon to speculate on when that might happen.

More attacks?

Americans continue to see terrorism as part of life in the U.S. Nine in 10 agree with the statement: "Americans will always have to live with the risk of terrorism."

At the same time, just a quarter are very concerned about an attack in their own area. That number was higher in the years following the 9/11 attacks. Northeasterners are more concerned than those living in other regions about an attack where they live.

And while 25 percent of Americans say they are less likely to attend large public events because of terrorism, most (72 percent) are not less likely to do that.

A majority of the public, 70 percent, has at least a fair amount of confidence in the federal government's ability to protect its citizens from terrorism. Confidence has dipped slightly since November 2010. Most Americans think the U.S. is prepared to deal with another terrorist attack, but they are less confident in their state and local governments.

Public cameras, the internet and civil liberties

The Boston bombing suspects were identified through security cameras located near the site of the attacks. Most Americans (78 percent) think having surveillance cameras in public places is a good idea -- one that would help reduce the threat of terrorism. Just 16 percent say such cameras are an infringement on privacy.

In addition, by more than two to one, Americans say information about making explosives should not be permitted on the Internet. Those under age 30 are more likely than older Americans to think that information should be allowed.

More generally, half of Americans think the government has struck the right balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining people's civil liberties. However, 26 percent say the government hasn't gone far enough in restricting liberties in order to combat terror, up from 17 percent in 2011. Another 20 percent say it's gone too far.

Republicans and independents are bit more likely than Democrats to think the government has gone too far in restricting civil liberties in the fight against terrorism. Majorities of all partisan stripes support public cameras as way to reduce terrorism, and say information about making explosives should not be permitted on the Internet.

Immigration, Islam

Nearly half of Americans now think legal immigration into the country has increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Republicans are especially likely to express this sentiment.

Americans continue to have net negative views of the Islam religion. Twenty-one percent have at least a somewhat favorable impression of Islam, while more - 38 percent - view the religion unfavorably. Thirty percent haven't heard enough to say. Opinions of the Islam religion are similar to what they were last September.

The CBS News Poll began asking about views of Islam in 2002. Back then, 30 percent viewed the religion favorably, it dipped just below 20 percent in 2006 and 2007 (hitting a low of 15 percent in 2007) and rose again to 30 percent in 2011, matching its highest level of favorability, first reached in 2002.

Forty-three percent of Americans think Islam encourages more violence than other religions around the world, up from 36 percent in 2011, but similar to views held in 2006. A third thinks Islam encourages the same amount of violence as other religions.

Favorable impressions of the Islam religion are higher among those who know someone who is Muslim, compared to those who do not.

This poll was conducted by telephone from April 24-28, 2013 among 965 adults nationwide. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls

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