I noticed that you posted the article "Poll: U.S. ready for more war" on the web site.

I know that I'm the one that called attention to that article, but I have some misgivings about posting it on the web site without some kind of caveat.

I'm convinced that such polls are being deliberately used to manipulate public opinion.

Take the headline, "U.S. ready for more war." If one actually reads the article, it's clear that some very different headlines could have been written, e.g., "Americans oppose unilateral expansion of the war" or "Concern over civil liberties restrictions growing."

Generally, I think we should be very cautious about accepting interpretations of poll results, especially if we don't know the *exact* wording of the questions that were asked.


Chicago Sun-Times
January 23, 2002

Poll: U.S. ready for more war


 WASHINGTON--More than two-thirds of Americans favor expanding the use of force beyond Afghanistan to Iraq and other countries, says a new poll.

 However, that backing for the anti-terror campaign would probably erode if the United States did not build support from allies, suggests the poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

 ''Even though we've had a quick victory in Afghanistan, the public is prepared for more war,'' said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.

 Nine in 10 said they think more military force is needed, even if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed. And from two-thirds to three-fourths supported military action against other countries such as Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. But the poll also suggested that support would fade if the United States were to act alone.

 More than half of those who favored taking military action against Iraq said the United States should take that step only if its allies agreed. Older Americans felt that way by a 2-to-1 margin.

 Kohut said the public desire for allied backing of military action has shown up in polls throughout the past decade.

 The poll of 1,201 adults was conducted Jan. 9-13 in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations. It had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

 Some other findings:

 In other developments:

 Controversy over U.S. captives

 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted Tuesday that the United States is treating terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, humanely and in accordance with international rules.

 But critics, including European Union officials and human rights groups, said the American refusal to call the detainees prisoners of war leaves them no guaranteed rights and could lower international support for the war against terrorism.

 ''The treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is proper, it's humane, it's appropriate, and it is fully consistent with international conventions,'' Rumsfeld said. America's priority, however, is stopping terrorist attacks by interrogating prisoners, not determining if they qualify as POWs, he said.

 ''That is pure, simple self-defense of the United States of America,'' he said.

 The 158 prisoners, mostly suspected al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, were flown to the U.S. military base in Cuba after being captured in the Afghanistan war. Rumsfeld said they eventually would be charged or released.

 The prisoners wear blacked-out goggles, shackles and handcuffs while being moved, but those are removed once the men are led to cells, Rumsfeld said.

 Those conditions have drawn criticism, and human rights groups also have criticized the detainees' temporary cells in steamy Cuba--a concrete slab divided by chain-link fences and topped by a metal roof.

 The West risks losing support if it mistreats the prisoners or subjects them to the death penalty, said Chris Patten, the EU's external relations commissioner.

 ''That would be a way of losing international support and losing the moral high ground,'' Patten said. He urged ''decency and generosity of spirit to the vanquished, even if they are pretty dangerous.''

 Rumsfeld called critics misinformed about the danger the detainees pose to military guards. One prisoner has threatened to kill Americans, and another has bitten a U.S. military guard, he said.

 Rumsfeld also said John Walker Lindh, the American accused of conspiring to kill fellow Americans, was being treated like other al-Qaida fighters.

 But Walker, being flown to America on Tuesday, will not be held at the Guantanamo base. Instead, because he is a U.S. citizen, he will be handed over to the Justice Department to face criminal charges in an American courtroom.

 Americans who are suing over the prisoner issue were told by a federal judge Tuesday that he doubts he has jurisdiction to rule on their request.

 U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz did not rule on the petition from human rights advocates who want the government to identify the detainees and disclose details about why they are being held.

 Instead, he gave federal attorneys until Jan. 31 to file written arguments on whether he has jurisdiction, and said petitioners could then reply.

 The petition alleges prisoners are being held in violation of the Geneva Conventions and U.S. Constitution. It was filed Sunday by the Committee of Clergy, Lawyers and Professors, a group of 16 people that includes former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

 ''Their motive is to see that the law in the United States is followed,'' attorney Stephen Yagman said.

 Afghans to crack down

 Afghanistan's new justice minister said its ruling council has decided to track down and punish all active members of the former Taliban regime and any warlords trying to destabilize the interim government of Hamid Karzai.

 The minister's comments came amid growing lawlessness in Kabul, the capital, and concern that warlords are fighting among themselves and allowing former Taliban officials to go free.

 Abdul Rahim Karimi said the 32-member ruling council also has voted to declare all Taliban laws and actions ''null and void.''

 UN aid fund depleted

 Afghanistan's civil servants were paid for the first time in six months Tuesday--an $8 million total payout that will virtually wipe out money earmarked for a UN start-up fund.

 As Afghan officials turned to the work of rebuilding their country, Karzai urged the quick arrival of $4.5 billion in assistance that was pledged over the next several years at a conference of nearly 60 donor nations in Tokyo.

 ''We are happy with the results of the conference,'' Karzai said.

 In a nod to fears that the money would not reach Afghanistan's poor, Karzai pledged to be ''a samurai against corruption.''

 Anthrax clues

 Scientists analyzing anthrax have found tiny differences that might help identify the source of the bacteria used in the fall attacks.

 With the mailer still at large, the FBI planned to double the reward to $2.5 million.

 In the investigation, scientists hope that identifying genetic markers will allow them to trace the anthrax used in the attacks to one of about a dozen labs that held samples of the commonly held Ames strain.

 Until now, no differences among the various anthrax samples had been pinpointed.

 But scientists at the Institute for Genetic Research in Rockville, Md., now say there appear to be a few subtle genetic variations between two anthrax samples they are comparing: anthrax used in the Florida attack and anthrax held by a British biodefense lab that originally received its sample from the U.S. Army lab at Fort Detrick, Md.

 This could lead to a break in the investigation, said Timothy D. Read, an anthrax researcher.

 ''It has potential,'' he said.

 AP, with Gannett News Service contributing