(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Many adults in the United States support security personnel relying on a passenger’s racial or religious characteristics to determine whether this passenger requires a more thorough review, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 51 per cent of respondents agree with this notion, while 39 per cent disagree.

Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people. In July 2004, the federal commission that investigated the events of 9/11 concluded that "none of the measures adopted by the U.S. government from 1998 to 2001 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the al-Qaeda plot" and pointed out government failures of "imagination, policy, capabilities, and management."

On Dec. 25, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Abdulmutallab has been charged with attempting to blow up an aircraft, placing a destructive device on an aircraft, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and attempted murder of 289 people.

On Apr. 2, the Department of Homeland Security introduced new intelligence-based airline security measures, which are meant to replace the mandatory rigorous pre-flight screening of travelers from 14 countries. The U.S. government had first implemented those guidelines after the Abdulmutallab incident.

U.S. homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the new regulations, saying, "Of course, after the events of December 25, I think it reminded everyone that aviation remains a target of al-Qaeda and how important it is going to be for us to work in a variety of ways to keep improving aviation security."

Polling Data

Overall, do you support or oppose security personnel relying on a passenger’s racial or religious characteristics to determine whether this passenger requires a more thorough review?

Support

51%

Oppose

39%

Not sure

10%

Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,005 American adults, conducted on Apr. 6 and Apr. 7, 2010. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.

Complete Poll (PDF)