Poll: Rise of the Truthers?

Well, great. Trutherism is a growing cancer on the country. If this poll is accurate, two-thirds of Americans subscribe to some form of Trutherism, a huge increase from a similar poll conducted last year.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans think it is possible that some federal officials had specific warnings of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, but chose to ignore those warnings, according to a Scripps Howard News Service/Ohio University poll.

A national survey of 811 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps and Ohio University found that more than a third believe in a broad smorgasbord of conspiracy theories including the attacks, international plots to rig oil prices, the plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the government’s knowledge of intelligent life from other worlds.

The high percentage is a manifestation, some say, of an American public that increasingly distrusts the federal government.

“You wouldn’t have gotten these numbers a year or two after the attacks themselves,” said University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster. “You’ve got an increasingly disaffected public that is unhappy with the administration.”

I would like to see how the question was phrased in the poll. The story doesn’t offer that. It’s well known that, in retrospect, some federal officials (if you consider FBI field agents and the like federal officials, which they are) had data that could possibly have led to stopping the attacks if it had been pieced together and reported to higher officers in a timely manner. It’s less well known but still almost common knowledge that better immigration enforcement could have prevented the attacks, or at least kept some of the hijackers from being able to board airplanes that day. But the way the question is reported presumes a few things, among them that the FBI and CIA could share intelligence data prior to 9-11 (Jamie Gorelick’s wall prevented that) and that some of them actively chose not to. It also presumes perfect law enforcement across the board, which is an unattainable standard. And there is always the possibility that there are or were moles or sympathizers who were working for the enemy in one way or another. Peggy Noonan even wondered about that back in 2002, and she’s no Truther. I’ve wondered the same thing since 9-11, because in wartime the possibility of double agents and turncoats should never be ruled out. If the question were worded broadly enough, it might capture me as suspecting that “federal officials” might have been complicit in some way, but the federal officials I would suspect wouldn’t be the same ones that actual Truthers suspect. Bona fide Trutherism is nonsense on stilts. The way the question is reported, though, it captures everyone from low level grunts to the President himself, and that’s an over broad swath of the government to rake up in one question.

Bottom line, I just don’t think that two-thirds of Americans have succumbed to Trutherism. Yet. Before I write off two-thirds of Americans as hopeless idiots, I’d like to learn more about the questions they were actually asked.

(h/t The Pool Bar)