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Americans Believe Drone Strikes on Citizens Unconstitutional, Poll Finds

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

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The latest Reason-Rupe national survey asked respondents nationwide to weigh in on issues that have made headlines over the last couple of months, from health care to immigration to minimum wage. The highlight from the results, however, was the survey's findings on the issue of drone strikes against American citizens.

According to results, a clear majority of Americans -- 57 percent -- believe it is unconstitutional for the President of the United States to order targeted drone strikes on citizens overseas, even if they are suspected of being aligned with terrorist organizations. Tweet poll: Tweet

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, has become a hotly debated issue in the United States. It is not just about the use of UAVs in modern warfare or foreign policy, but domestic use as well. The discussion over the future of the technology is arguably one of the biggest issues of 2013.

While 57 percent of respondents say it is unconstitutional to order the killing of Americans overseas, slightly more -- 59 percent -- believe that the federal government abuses its power when it comes to targeted strikes against citizens. Drone warfare is an issue political opponents of President Obama have quickly pounced on over public discontent with the program. Tweet stat: Tweet

On the matter of domestic use of UAVs, sixty percent of respondents believe that, to some degree, the use of drones by local law enforcement to conduct surveillance without a warrant is an invasion of personal privacy. Tweet it: Tweet

The survey also asked respondents if they believe they have a right to destroy a UAV if it flies over their house without their permission. The results suggest that the public is evenly divided on this issue as 47 percent answered 'yes' and 47 percent answered 'no.'

Some states are currently considering legislation to place regulations and restrictions on the use of UAVs by local and state law enforcement agencies, but the use of drones in warfare continues to be an issue of concern for many people because there doesn't appear to be any changes to current policy in the foreseeable future.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice released a white paper vindicating targeted attacks on U.S. citizens overseas last month.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted live phone interviews with 1,002 adults from February 21-25, 2013. The Reason-Rupe poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

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