CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation
Washington (CNN) - Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it's handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a new national survey.
But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, a majority of the public doesn't believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. And the survey also indicates a plurality have a positive opinion of Petraeus and are divided on whether the former top U.S. should have resigned as CIA director after acknowledging an extra-marital affair.
On Libya, 54% of the country is dissatisfied with the administration's response to the Benghazi attack, with only four in ten saying they're satisfied with the way the White House handled the matter.
"But that dissatisfaction is not because Americans see a cover-up," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only 40% believe that the inaccurate statements that administration officials initially made about the Benghazi attack were an attempt to deliberately mislead the public. Fifty-four percent think those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."
Nearly half of those questioned (48%) say that the U.S. could have prevented the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, with 42% saying the U.S. could not have prevented the attack.
According to the poll, the public is split right down the middle on how the Obama administration's handled the Petraeus resignation, with 44% saying that officials handled it appropriately and 44% disagreeing with that view.
The survey also indicates that Americans are also split over whether Petraeus, the former four-star general who commanded all U.S forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan, should have resigned as CIA director. Forty-eight percent 48% say that was the right thing to do; with 48% opposed to the resignation, which happened just three days after the presidential election.
"One reason that the public is split on Petraeus' resignation is that his favorables outweigh his unfavorables by 16 points," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Forty-four percent have a positive view of him, compared to just 28% with a negative view. The rest are unfamiliar with Petraeus."
Another reason the public is divided on whether Petraeus should have resigned may be that most Americans don't think that adultery should be a crime under military law, and even fewer believe it should be a criminal offense for civilians, with that number dropping since the last time the question was asked in 1997.
Just over half of those questioned (52%) say Congress should investigate the Petraeus matter, with 47% saying they should not conduct an investigation.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 16-18, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report