For its "What You Need to Know" cover story, Newsweek found troubling gaps in knowledge of the 1,001 adult Americans who participated in a poll to test their knowledge of politics, foreign affairs, business, technology and popular culture. As the poll summary reports: "The results were mixed, to be charitible."
Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in 10 Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right—and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.
Still, seven in 10 (70 percent) are aware that the United States has not discovered any hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since the war began. And perhaps because most (85 percent) are aware that Osama bin Laden remains at large, roughly half of the poll’s respondents (52 percent) think that the United States is losing the fight against his terror group, Al Qaeda, despite no military defeats or recent terrorist attacks to suggest as much.