Poll: Only 24 Percent Of Americans Say Torture Is Never Justified

Alex Griswold Media Reporter
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Even after Senate Democrats released a so-called “CIA torture report” outlining the full extent of the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogations, a YouGov poll finds a plurality of Americans continue to support the use of torture against terrorists. (VIDEO: Dick Cheney: ‘I Have No Sympathy’ For Tortured Detainees)

48 percent of Americans believe that the use of torture against terrorists who might know about is always or sometimes justified. Another 18 percent believe that it is rarely justified, but only 24 percent of Americans believe it is never justified. (Another 11 percent weren’t sure).

A plurality also believed that torture allowed the United States to find Osama Bin Laden (48 percent), compared to only 23 percent who said it did not and 29 percent who weren’t sure. (VIDEO: TheDC Interview: Rob O’Neill, The SEAL Who Shot Osama Bin Laden)

Nearly twice as many Americans believe that releasing the “torture report” did more damage to American interests than the actual torture. 52 percent said “Making public a report that details the use of torture against terrorist suspects by the American government” was more harmful to U.S. interests, compared to 29 percent who said “The use of torture against terrorist suspects by the American government.”

Respondents were also more likely to say they trusted the CIA to do what was right for the country (20 percent) than Congress (9 percent). But a plurality (47 percent) said they trusted neither.

A series of Pew polls likewise found that Americans’ views on torture have slowly shifted since President George W. Bush left office. Only 42 percent of Americans said torture was often or sometimes justified in 2004, compared to 53 percent in 2011.

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Alex Griswold