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Poll: Rice testimony yields mixed results for White House

Majority: Administration had no al Qaeda strategy before 9/11



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CNN's Jeff Greenfield reviews highlights of the testimony.

Respondents to a CNN/Time poll found the Rice testimony more credible than ex-counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke's.
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(CNN) -- Compared with two weeks ago, fewer Americans now think the Bush administration failed to do all it could to prevent the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, but nearly two-thirds think the White House had no strategy to take out al Qaeda prior to the attacks, according to a poll released Friday.

CNN/TIME magazine conducted the telephone poll Thursday night, after national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

Forty percent of the 1,000 Americans polled said that the administration, based on the information it had, could have done more to stop the terrorist attacks, compared with 54 percent in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28.

Thursday's poll, however, gave a resounding "no" -- 60 percent -- to the question of whether the administration had an al Qaeda strategy before the events of September 11, 2001.

Forty percent of those polled disagreed with Rice that restrictions on law enforcement authorities played a role in the government's failure to detect the plot, although 33 percent said such restrictions were partly responsible.

Rice herself snagged a 41 percent favorable rating in the poll, but another 43 percent said they weren't familiar enough with her to have an opinion -- and a rather sizable 32 percent had heard nothing at all about her testimony to the commission.

Only 20 percent told pollsters they'd heard a great deal.

Rice won the credibility race against former counterterrorism aide Richard Clarke -- who testified that the White House had ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization. Forty-three percent of the poll's participants said they were more likely to believe Rice, as opposed to 36 percent naming Clarke.

Still, 21 percent weren't sure, and it was the 72 percent of Republican respondents who put Rice over the top.

Fifty-three percent of Democrats believed Clarke over Rice.


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