America's New War?
Poll: Third of New Yorkers Support Internment Camps for Some
ALBANY, N.Y. One third of New Yorkers favor establishing internment camps for "individuals who authorities identify as being sympathetic to terrorist causes," according to a poll from the Siena College Research Institute.
Fifty percent of those surveyed for the statewide poll said they were opposed to that idea while 15 percent had no opinion.
The telephone poll of 610 New York state residents over age 18 was conducted from Sept. 12, the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, through Sept. 19. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The poll found 75 percent of respondents felt terrorist attacks would continue and 40 percent said they were very concerned they or family members could become victims.
Forty-six percent said the attacks make it less likely they will use commercial flights even though two-thirds of those surveyed said they believe the airlines can be made safe from terrorism. Ninety percent said undercover, armed security guards should be put on the planes.
Internment camps have been controversial since World War II when the United States ordered thousands of Japanese-Americans into such facilities.
Douglas Lonnstrom, director of the research institute, said that given that World War II experience he found it "startling" that 34 percent of those polled supported the creation of new internment camps.
Lonnstrom said he didn't know if those questioned equated the phrase "sympathetic to terrorist causes" to Arab-Americans.
But James Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said, "You have to be very careful how you go down this road of defining sympathies. I think it's dangerous."
Zogby said creation of such camps would be unconstitutional, but that he wasn't surprised by the poll's findings.
"In the current context, when you ask that question you're going to get that kind of response," Zogby said. "I would say if you asked people, `Should terrorist sympathizers have their toenails forcibly plucked from their toes?', you would probably get something akin to that."