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Majority of Americans Oppose Torture

By Jon Cohen
A majority of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll oppose the use of torture in terrorism investigations, backing President Obama's pledge that "under my administration, the United States does not torture." But there's an even split on whether he should investigate whether laws were broken in the way suspects were treated under the Bush administration.

Overall, 58 percent support the prohibition Obama declared before taking office, but there's a wide gap across party lines: 71 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents in the poll said torture should never be used, but most Republicans, 55 percent, said there are cases in which the U.S. should consider using torture against terrorism suspects.

The issue of torture has new prominence today after Obama's order to suspend judicial proceedings against terrorism suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Last week, a top Bush administration official said plainly that the U.S. had tortured a Saudi national held there; the man allegedly intended to take part in 9/11 attacks. The politics of torture and Gitmo are now inextricably linked.

There's also a large political divide about whether the new administration should look into any illegality on the part of the previous one in terms of its handling of those suspected of terrorist activities, as 69 percent of Democrats said they'd like to see such investigations while 69 percent of Republicans said no. Independents divide 53 to 45 percent against investigations.

Put together, all Americans break 50 percent in favor of investigations, 47 percent opposed.

On the question of the use of torture, a gender gap spans party affiliation, as in all cases women are more apt than men to support Obama's position that torture not be used in any circumstance.

Continue reading at Behind the Numbers»

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 21, 2009; 1:33 PM ET
Categories:  The Pollster  
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Comments

As I stated, there will be no prosecutions for "torture" It's time to move on.

Posted by: JakeD | January 22, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

WE as a nation need to cleanse ourselves of this wrong. Keith Olberman is right about this. I don't know what President Obama intends to do. It's only obvious that the Republican obstructionist in the Senate are holding up the confirmation of Eric Holder because of some weak Karl Rovian influence. Rove needs to be arrested, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and anyone else who were involved in the torturing of human beings. http://www.need4trth.blogspot.com. If we don't do it the U.N. will do it.

Posted by: need4trth | January 22, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

The best part of Obama's presidency. Is no more Dick Cheney. Good to see Lord Cheney being evicted, See a very funny Video of Cheney leaving the WhiteHouse.

Watch Cheney get evicted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrvIAxH4ePc
http://www.pres.tv

Posted by: pastor123 | January 21, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Look, IF you don't want to answer simple hypothetical questions, no skin off my nose. Have a nice life, JRM2.

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:
I am not advocating nor am I against prosecution. I am simply stating the facts. Again, you are using the "if" word, when one applies "if" to an argument then it becomes impossible to refute.

I'll tell you what, if you want the answer to your questions go read the Geneva convention's definition of torture. The fact is, we have become torturers under the definition.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that torture actually gleans reliable intelligence, but there is plenty of evidence that it does not.

I am not ready to believe that these interrogations saved thousands of lives and prevented future terrorist attacks just because someone says so and then says, I can't tell you why because it's classified.

And no, I don't think Bush signed a pardon for himself.

Try taking a look at how other countries treat terrorism, some (like France) are very successful, they treat terrorism as a judicial matter, not a military matter.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 21, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

JRM2:

I doubt that any Bush Administration official will be prosecuted for "torture" -- especially since classified information would be required by the defense -- perhaps you can answer some questions:

1) If Khalid Sheik Mohammed was bound to an inclined board -- with his feet raised and head slightly below the feet, cellophane wrapped over face so that he could not actually drown -- and water was poured over him to obtain information that prevented a terrorist attack on another American city, would you agree with that action or not?

2) Is pushing someone who can swim into a pool "torture"?

3) Do you think that Bush signed a pardon for himself?

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

The poll did not define "torture".

Posted by: JakeD | "
---
Yes but the Geneva convention does.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 21, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter what percentage of Americans are for or against torture. Once a country enters the Geneva convention it becomes law in said country.

Torture is illegal, our country tortured under the Bush Presidency.

A real moral conundrum for the current administration: Do we investigate and prosecute and risk dividing the country?, or do we lose even more moral high-ground by refusing to prosecute and thus be labeled a nation or torturers which is what we have become, much like Pinochet.

Posted by: JRM2 | January 21, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Not true. From the link (below):

Alan Dershowitz, the civil libertarian defender of O.J Simpson, believes the law should sanction torture so it may be applied in certain cases, such as terrorist acts.

In a 60 Minutes report, Dershowitz tells Correspondent Mike Wallace that torture is inevitable. “We can’t just close our eyes and pretend we live in a pure world,” he says.

After the events of Sept. 11, with many al Qaida members in custody, Dershowitz says he wants to bring the debate to the forefront. He gave the “ticking bomb” scenario - a person refusing to tell when and where a bomb will go off – as an example of the type of case warranting torture.

...

“If anybody had the ability to prevent the events of Sept. 11… they would have gone to whatever length [except thebobbob and nodebris] …The problem becomes, where do we draw that line?” he tells Wallace.

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Dershowitz does not favor torture. He argues merely that if it is ever used in the oft-proposed but seldom seen "ticking time bomb" scenario, there should be some sort of warrant system in place so that the parties deciding to use torture can be held accountable for their decision, rather than hiding behind a fuzzy network of institutional cover-up and plausible deniability.

He is pro-accountability, not pro-torture.

Posted by: nodebris | January 21, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

thebobbob:

1) If Khalid Sheik Mohammed was bound to an inclined board -- with his feet raised and head slightly below the feet, cellophane wrapped over face so that he could not actually drown -- and water was poured over him to obtain information that prevented a terrorist attack on another American city, would you agree with that action or not?

2) Is pushing someone who can swim into a pool "torture"?

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

LIBERAL civil rights attorney and Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz, is actually a registered DEMOCRAT. I would call him a "Real American" too.

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans, 55 percent, said there are cases in which the U.S. should consider using torture against terrorism suspects."

Real Americans? The 'Morality" party? The 'rule of law' party?? Sickening.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 21, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

scrivener50:

I was simply asking questions -- you don't have to believe me though -- take a look at what a LIBERAL civil rights Harvard professor has to say.

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

JakeD:

Your lame disinfo is giving "psy ops" a bad name.

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 21, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse


PRESIDENT OBAMA: BAN THE ROOT CAUSE OF TORTURE


As your first major act, please ban MORE THAN TORTURE...

...Ban policies of EXTRAJUDICIAL TARGETING AND PUNISHMENT... policies that breed torture and human rights abuses AT HOME as well as abroad.

Extrajudicial targeting and punishment allows a calculated bypass of the judicial system... paving the way for human rights abuses -- including DOMESTIC TORTURE VIA RADIATION WEAPONRY that is being widely deployed among law enforcement, the military, and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Obama, domestic torture and physical assault by way of high-tech devices and weapons CONTINUES TO THIS DAY in communities throughout America...

... a covert evil that is happening with the apparent knowledge and approval of U.S. security forces.

And multi-agency "programs of personal destruction" also continue -- what could be rightly defined as an "American Gestapo."

A "parallel system" of transaction processing -- sold as a "tool" in the war on terror -- is being used against "targeted" American citizens who have been denied their due process rights.

The overwhelming number of these "targeted individuals" are innocent of any wrongdoing, and are being subject to endless investigation, "community gang stalking" and extrajudicial punishment due to their political beliefs, their perceived "activism," and for other ideological reasons.

These Bush era programs continue -- and the authoritarians who established them now work for YOU, Mr. President. Please take action to ensure that the rule of law is restored -- and that the officials who have betrayed their oaths of office are REMOVED FROM POWER and brought to justice.

http://my.nowpublic.com/world/plea-obama-ban-extrajudicial-policies-behind-torture

OR (if link is disabled):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 21, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Is pushing someone who can swim into a pool "torture"?

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the following question should have been asked:

"If Khalid Sheik Mohammed was bound to an inclined board -- with his feet raised and head slightly below the feet, cellophane wrapped over face so that he could not actually drown -- and water was poured over him to obtain information that prevented a terrorist attack on another American city, would you agree with that action or not?"

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The poll did not define "torture".

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

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