Americans favor homeland agency even as trust in government drops

While Americans' overall trust in government has fallen from the very high levels reported after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they still favor creation of a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security to prevent future attacks.

In a CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll conducted last week, 60 percent of respondents said Congress should pass legislation to create the new department. Just 29 percent opposed the idea.

Eighty percent of the respondents said they had a "fair amount" or a "great deal" of confidence that the federal government can protect citizens from future attacks.

But only 46 percent said they trust the government in Washington to do what is right "just about always" or "most of the time." Fifty-four percent said they trusted government "only some of the time" or "never."

Surveys conducted shortly after Sept. 11 by the Gallup Organization and the University of Michigan showed that 60 percent of Americans said they trusted government to do what is right "just about always" or most of the time," compared to just 39 percent who indicated a low level of trust.

Those numbers were nearly reversed from polls taken prior to the attacks, and showed the highest level of support for the federal government since before the Watergate scandal.

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