Poll: Americans Still Approve of Drone Strike Program

Men were much more likely to approve of overseas attacks.

A Yemeni hold up a banner during a protest against U.S. drone attacks in the capital Sanaa, Jan. 28, 2013.
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Despite renewed controversy over the United States' secret drone strike program in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle support the program.

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More people currently approve of the program than in July of last year, according to the PEW Research Center poll conducted over the weekend. Last year, 55 percent of American approved of U.S. drone attacks; now, 56 percent approve. Just 26 percent of Americans disapprove of drone attacks according to the latest poll, compared to 34 percent last year.

The poll found a gender gap in support of the strikes: 68 percent of men approve of drone strikes; just 44 percent of women do. People on both sides of the political spectrum approve of the strikes, though Republicans are more supportive (68 percent of Republicans approve, compared to 58 percent of Democrats).

Republicans are much less likely to worry about the potential threat to civilian lives the program has caused: Just over a third of Republicans said they were "very concerned" that drones endanger civilians, compared to two-thirds of Democrats.

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Last week, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein caught flak for suggesting that the number of civilian casualties "that have resulted from [drone] strikes each year has typically been in the single digits." According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed as many as 891 citizens.

Republicans are also less likely to worry about the potential damage to America's reputation that drone strikes could cause.

The poll measured the opinions of more than 1,000 adults and represent a national sample of the population.

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