Poll: Twenty Percent Of Americans Support Torturing Terrorist Suspects

06/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

A CNN poll released on Wednesday revealed that roughly 20 percent of the public said the interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration constituted torture but support use of the techniques on terrorist suspects regardless.

The figure, somewhat buried in the release of the poll, helps explains why, as CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says, "a majority don't want to see former Bush officials investigated."

Six out of every ten people surveyed said they believed that the interrogation techniques used by the Bush White House -- including waterboarding -- were a "form of torture." One out of every five of those individuals, nevertheless, thought the application of these techniques on suspected terrorists was justified. Fifty percent of all respondents said they approved of the former administration's use of "harsh interrogation procedures," including the waterboard.

The findings provide a rather frank insight into how a substantial portion of the country approaches the debate over counter-terrorism policies and the suggestion that an investigation should be launched should it be proven that laws were broken. Only 42 percent of respondents said they believed Congress should conduct an investigation of the Bush administration officials who authorized the use of those procedures; 57 percent said no. The same percentage supported an independent panel investigation, with 55 percent opposing that forum as well.

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