POLLS, WE HAVE POLLS
Sixty-two percent of Americans say the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan cannot be considered a victory if Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar are not captured or killed. That's according to the latest Newsweek Poll.
And majorities of Americans questioned would support the assassinations of terrorist leaders and fighters of Al Qaeda around the world, the poll of 1,002 people shows. But 40 percent say such a policy would increase the chances that more terrorist attacks would be carried out against American citizens; 28 percent say it would decrease the chances and 28 percent say it wouldn't make much difference either way.
Only seven percent in the Newsweek Poll think that to eliminate the threat of future terrorist attacks, it will be enough to capture or kill bin Laden; 32 percent say it will also be necessary to kill or capture other top leaders in his organization, but a 52-percent majority says even that will not be enough because too many cells and potential leaders would remain.
Still, 65 percent of Americans polled approve of giving U.S. military and intelligence agencies the power to assassinate terrorist leaders and Al Qaeda fighters in the Middle East; 57 percent approve of it for Africa and Asia and 54 percent approve of it for Europe. The public is split on support for a covert operation to assassinate individuals overseas who give major financial support to terrorists: 45 percent say they would support it; 48 percent say they would not.
Asked about the videotape of Osama bin Laden talking about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that the U.S. government released this week, 69 percent found it convincing that bin Laden was behind the attacks. And after seeing or listening to bin Laden's words and attitude on the videotape, 48 percent say it makes them personally feel he should be killed rather than captured.
-- What do you think?
The public affairs director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has sent out special holiday greeting cards which depict Santa, standing on top of an aircraft, holding a bag of handguns, and presenting one of the guns to the plane's pilot.
John Michael Snyder --- who's been dubbed the dean of gun lobbyists by the media --- reports getting a letter of thanks from Santa, which says: "As your card suggests, I'm ready to present a handgun to any qualified pilot who wants one."
According to Snyder the letter continues, "This should enable pilots to protect themselves, their crew, their passengers, their aircraft and other innocent people from possible future terrorist attacks. The elves and I were delighted to learn that Congress passed and the President signed into law last month the Aviation and Transportation Security Act with its armed pilots provision. Hopefully, the Department of Transportation will move swiftly to implement this provision. The safety of an untold number of people could depend on that."
-- Should airline flight crews be armed? Why or why not?
BRITISH MOVIE STAR POLL
In a poll conducted by British TV channel FilmFour, voters named Robert De Niro as the greatest film star of all time.
De Niro's "Godfather" co-star, Al Pacino, finished second, according to the Daily Express newspaper.
The top-ranked actress on the poll's list of the 100 greatest film is Jodie Foster, who co-starred with De Niro in "Taxi Driver." She finished at No. 22. Audrey Hepburn ("Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Sabrina"") finished 23rd, and Julia Roberts ("Pretty Woman," "Erin Brockovich") came in at No. 38.
Kevin Spacey ("The Usual Suspects," "American Beauty") finished third, ahead of Jack Nicholson ("As Good as It Gets," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") and Sean Connery, ("The Untouchables" and the James Bond movie series).
-- Who would you rate as the greatest film star of all time, and why?
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)