Poll: 68% of Americans say torturing terrorists is justified in some circumstances

posted at 11:21 am on April 9, 2014 by Allahpundit

Useful context from HuffPo and YouGov as the Senate agonizes over whether to release that Democratic Intel Committee report on CIA enhanced interrogation. Polls on this subject are always fascinating as a reality check on critics who accuse the CIA of having betrayed “American values.” Have they? Let’s ask some Americans:

torturehy

That’s despite the fact that barely more than a third think info obtained from torture is reliable and a large plurality think it’s possible to fight terrorism without it. Even among Democrats, notes HuffPo, just 34 percent say torture is never justified under any circumstances. Virtually no one, including Bill Clinton by his own admission, is going to sit by and risk having a bomb go off if there’s someone in custody who might know how to stop it. Not even Obama, although I’m sure he’d elegantly sidestep that question if it were put to him starkly with rhetoric about “staying true to who we are” or whatever. The parade of potential horribles post-9/11 is simply too terrifying — smuggled nukes, freelance bioweapons — for most people to take coercion off the table. In fact, I wonder sometimes what the reaction would be if news broke that O had, in fact, authorized some form of EIT and had gotten useful intel from it that saved lives. Public reaction would break down along the same lines, I assume, as it does in the drone debate, with lefty ideologues chagrined and virtually everyone else — most Democrats included — grateful. I have no doubt that his job approval numbers would go up, not down.

What’s even more interesting than the HuffPo numbers, though, is the historical trend. Here’s what Pew found when they polled this issue sporadically from 2004 through 2009:

torture

If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have guessed that support for EIT would slowly but consistently decline over time as 9/11 receded, unless/until there’s another major attack on U.S. soil. That’s not what we see in the Pew data. Support bounces around, from majority opposition in 2004 (not long after Abu Ghraib) to an even split a few years later to majority support in November 2009, during O’s first year in office. It wasn’t just Republicans driving it either: Check the second table here and you’ll see that, even during the Bush years, roughly 35 percent of Democrats said torture was often or sometimes justified against terrorists. As of November 2009, the number was 47 percent. The significance of HuffPo’s numbers today is that it suggests the spike in support in late 2009 wasn’t a statistical outlier. The new numbers are almost identical to the old numbers (in fact, the number who say torture is never justified is actually down a few points since November 2009), suggesting a more durable consensus on this issue. I never would have predicted it.

Now I’m curious to know what the next GOP presidential field will say about it. Will anyone endorse reinstating EIT, or some modified version of it (say, with the ban on waterboarding still intact)? As usual, Rand Paul’s the least predictable and therefore most interesting character in the bunch. If he opens the door to some version of EIT, libertarians will destroy him over it. If he takes the never-ever approach, hawks will destroy him for not being willing to do everything he can to protect America. Stay tuned.


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Nice to know all that rhetoric from the left about how the US should never torture was a bunch of partisan BS aimed at harming the Bush Administration. The good news is they can never play that card again after what they sat back and approved of during the Obama years. At least Bush didn’t order the assassinations of American citizens(including a 16 year-old kid).

Doughboy on April 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

It depends for me. Who is going to undergo the EIT? Obviously, American enemies. With Obama, who is more likely to be water boarded: Abdul Muhammed, camel trader who trades in missiles, or Bob Jones, faithful Catholic who votes for Republicans?

And I’m not sure I know the answer to that. And that’s frightening.

Vanceone on April 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

And obviously, with that picture, Allah believes in it.

Lanceman on April 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

But even among Democrats, only 34 percent said torture is never justified.

But, of course…just as they now overwhelmingly support drone strikes.

Most on the Left didn’t hate what Bush did. They hated Bush and used issues like Iraq and ‘torture’ as political weapons. Bob Shrum, specifically and admittedly, designed the ‘Iraq is the bad war, Afghanistan is the good war, and Bush dropped the ball and was a ‘war criminal’ as part of the strategy for John Kerry’s 2004 campaign.

Maerose Prizzi was briefed numerous times by the CIA and other agencies and never, ever, ever raised an objection to EIT until it became ‘fashionable.’ Can anyone ever forget her press conference a few years ago where she denied it and looked like a deer caught in the headlights?

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

God, she’s one ugly broad.

rogerb on April 9, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Yes! I think we start with the entire, current administration.

vnvet on April 9, 2014 at 11:26 AM

68% agreeing with some torture is no reason to torture us with that picture.

Flange on April 9, 2014 at 11:27 AM

As usual, Rand Paul’s the least predictable and therefore most interesting character in the bunch. If he opens the door to some version of EIT, libertarians will destroy him over it. If he takes the never-ever approach, hawks will destroy him for not being willing to do everything he can to protect America. Stay tuned.

This requires some creativity. Maybe instead of waterboarding, suspected terrorists are taken on a trip to Disneyworld. They’ll visit Cinderella’s castle, watch the Mainstreet Parade, get a set of mouse ears. Then, after hours, they get strapped into the “It’s a Small World” ride and run through as many times as it takes for them to break. Not a secret would be left by the time dawn rises over Orlando.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

MSNBC Host Defends Liberals Who Trust Obama With Drones: Would You Trust Bush With Nuclear Codes?

“How would you feel about a Madeline Albright panel about women and body image?” Ball asked hypothetically. “Now, how do you feel about the Larry Flynt panel on women and body image?”

“How do you feel about your kid in Dr. Ruth [Westheimer]’s sex-ed class versus Todd Akins?” Ball continued. “Do you feel different about Warren Buffet setting standards for financial ethics versus Bernie Madoff?”

“Of course you do, because you’re normal,” Ball declared.

“I voted for President Obama because I trust his values and his judgment, and I believe that he is a fundamentally responsible actor,” she added. “Without gratuitously slamming ex-President Bush, I think he displayed extraordinary lapses in judgment in executing his primary responsibility as commander-in-chief, and put troops in harm’s way imprudently.”

“President Obama would have exercised better judgment and he has exercised better judgment,” Ball said. “What would George W. Bush do? That’s our standard? We would never allow a power to the presidency that we wouldn’t feel comfortable giving to George W. Bush?”

Ball said that, for perspective, Obama has the “unilateral power to drop nuclear bombs and destroy the entire planet.”

“Do you feel the same about George W. Bush having the nuclear codes as you do about President Obama?” Ball asked in conclusion. “Call me a hypocrite, but I sure don’t.”

OK. Hypocrite…with a stupid name.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:29 AM

As usual, Rand Paul’s the least predictable and therefore most interesting character in the bunch. If he opens the door to some version of EIT, libertarians will destroy him over it. If he takes the never-ever approach, hawks will destroy him for not being willing to do everything he can to protect America. Stay tuned.

Not this libertarian. I’d personally pull out the fingernails and teeth of someone if they were withholding information that would prevent any innocent American from being killed.

Call me barbarous or whatever.

I. Don’t. Care.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Anyone catch the former CIA official in charge of these
EVIL CLANDESTINE measures on Andy Dean last evening??

The man is Jose Rodriguez. As half a Heineken Hannity
would proclaim, a Great American, if ever there was one.

Jose responded to this Senate Intelligence report soon coming out
that trashes all these guys who were involved in this. He said
he’s never been interviewed by these Sanators, and that’s because
they don’t want to hear from him. It’s all political to them,
and he said they DISGUST him.

America nees more men like Jose Rodriguez.

ToddPA on April 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

This could shoot down one of their campaign talking points.
Democrats-good
Republicans-bad

docflash on April 9, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Dhimis in America

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2014 at 11:34 AM

as a reality check on critics who accuse the CIA of having betrayed “American values.”

Winning at war – total war – is the American value. The enemy deserves the hell they have invited on themselves. It was nothing short of moronic to finish WWII – the greatest victory in war, ever – by turning around and declaring all successful tactics used in that war (and the requirement of the unconditional surrender of the enemies) to be illegal. Of course, that sort of stupidity often happens after the trauma of major wars, just as when WWI was called “the War to End All Wars” … as if …

Of course, looking at the current population, here, electing an ineligible, retarded, third-world, dog-eating, muslim-raised, little Jakarta street kid who hates America and Americans is the opposite of an American value, but that’s the insane society we are stuck with now. We know that whatever power is given to the feral government (and th eExecutive, in particular) will be used against Americans more than against any enemy of the late US … but that’s what happens when there’s a brain-dead, Sukarno-clone traitor in the Oval Office. Nothing that can be done about that – not until Barky is given the orange jumpsuit he so richly deserves. Any power allowed to a government under an America-hater like Barky will be power used to oppress and harm Americans.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on April 9, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Democrats in the poll were thinking of the Tea Party when they read ‘terrorist’.

faraway on April 9, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Irregular combatants captured on the battlefield can and should be tortured for info then shot.

Akzed on April 9, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Define “torture”. Is playing with someone’s mind torture? Or does it actually mean deliberate and calculated infliction of pain?

GarandFan on April 9, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Then, after hours, they get strapped into the “It’s a Small World” ride and run through as many times as it takes for them to break. Not a secret would be left by the time dawn rises over Orlando.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Brilliant.
After just one trip through and I was ready to talk, anything was better than that damn song in my head.

JusDreamin on April 9, 2014 at 11:47 AM

“Hillary Clinton leads all potential challengers by double digits in latest CBS/WSJ poll!”

Now seeing this in the headlines constantly is torture.

otlset on April 9, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Then, after hours, they get strapped into the “It’s a Small World” ride and run through as many times as it takes for them to break. Not a secret would be left by the time dawn rises over Orlando.

Happy Nomad on April 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

ROFL!
2 trips through It’s A Small World and anyone would be spilling their guts. Now THAT would be torture.

I spent a spring break from college with my roommate in Cali. We went to Disneyland with some of his friends, and all got into one boat for It’s A Small World. We had to forcibly keep one guy in the boat who seriously tried to jump out and grab a doll.
I think the irritating music/singing put him over the edge….

dentarthurdent on April 9, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Not this libertarian. I’d personally pull out the fingernails and teeth of someone if they were withholding information that would prevent any innocent American from being killed.

Call me barbarous or whatever.

I. Don’t. Care.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Like wise here but my imagination is goes far beyond anything I would actually put into words.

fourdeucer on April 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Darn, one more campaign talking point that isn’t going to work.

Cindy Munford on April 9, 2014 at 11:53 AM

God, she’s one ugly broad.

lostmotherland on February 26, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Schadenfreude on April 9, 2014 at 11:56 AM

The good news is they can never play that card again after what they sat back and approved of during the Obama years.

Doughboy on April 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Puhlease. ‘Koch, Koch, Koch!’ being screamed by Democrats that not only have taken Koch money (Chuck Schumer and Dingy Reid, I’m looking at you), but have no problems with taking over the Senate floor for a pajama-party to appease some billionaire EnviroNazi in return for $100 million. And, of course, need I say ‘George Soros’?

Every Senate Democrat has a man chief of staff and their gender pay gap is greater than the national average; yet, that doesn’t stop them from screaming about ‘Pay equality!’ Shit, Harry Reid, who doesn’t have a woman COS or pay his female staff equally, was blaming the ‘rich, rich, rich, rich, rich, un-American people’ like the Koch Brothers for pay inequality and preventing legislation that would mandate every employer in the country to do what they, themselves, are unwilling to do.

Hypocrisy is an integral part of being a Democrat.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Speaking of terrorists and torture….
AP – Still no PA HS stabbing thread?
Townhall has already had a thread on that incident for 2 hours…
You guys here at HA have been falling behind a lot lately.

dentarthurdent on April 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Like wise here but my imagination is goes far beyond anything I would actually put into words.

fourdeucer on April 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

I hear you. I am sooooo over ‘winning hearts and minds,’ especially with people that actually rip out the hearts of the still warm bodies of those that they have killed and eat them.

F’em. If and when they decide to leave the 7th century and join us in modernity, I’ll give a shit about them. Until then, I consider our enemies to be nothing more than insects that I would smash on the street. I’d rather kill them before they bite me.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

dentarthurdent on April 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

No kidding. I’ve been waiting for hours for nobrain to show up to demand that we not only ban knives, but confiscate every one of them in the country.

Biodegradable spoons for everyone from now on!

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Poll: 68% of Americans say torturing terrorists is justified in some circumstances

I’d like to see a poll on how stupid it is to poll when fighting a war.

Train your soldiers…make sure they are humane…and let them do their jobs. If they cross the line, keep it in a court martial.

I can’t imagine this topic even being raised in WWII. Then again, our priority then was to win a war. Now, the military priority is to make sure ghay soldiers have hats that don’t clash with their uniform.

Deafdog on April 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Take no prisoners. Kill them all. Or, let them listen to Pelosi, Boxer, and Hillary speeches 24/7.

racquetballer on April 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

How did they feel about innocent people being tortured?

American torturers should be tried in court.

For the record, waterboarding is not torture.

blink on April 9, 2014 at 11:50 AM

It is a common war crime and it was deemed bad enough to lead to convictions at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and even US Army military courts.

lexhamfox on April 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

It is a common war crime and it was deemed bad enough to lead to convictions at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal …

lexhamfox on April 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

If you look at the history of those trials, you’ll find that the convictions were based on more than just ‘waterboarding.’ A lot more.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Or, let them listen to Pelosi, Boxer, and Hillary speeches 24/7.

racquetballer on April 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Now THAT would be torture.

When I went through AF survival training, in the mock POW camp they kept blasting a soundtrack at us that included a piece we called babbling babies – irritating as he11 – I think what you propose would be far worse.

dentarthurdent on April 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Waterboarding still isn’t torture. It may scare the crap out of the person being waterboarded (good), but it isn’t torture.

Ward Cleaver on April 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Captain America and the Black Widow drop a double agent off a building to make him talk in a ticking time bomb scenario. No one in the audience walks out.

redeye on April 9, 2014 at 12:22 PM

America nees more men like Jose Rodriguez.

ToddPA on April 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

That guy is tremendous. He makes no bones about it on every interview I see him do.

Rodriguez: “You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red. It worked, and I’d do it again.”

The guy is a hero and deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.

BuckeyeSam on April 9, 2014 at 12:35 PM

“You’re damn right I ordered the Code Red Fat Man and Little Boy to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It worked, and I’d do it again.”

The guy is a hero and deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.

BuckeyeSam on April 9, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Of course, many on the Left believe that Truman was a war criminal for preventing the deaths of at least 500,000 American troops and Japanese civilians, which would have occurred if he had ordered a ground invasion instead.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 12:43 PM

For the record, waterboarding is not torture.

blink on April 9, 2014 at 11:50 AM

What’s interesting is that, even when mis-characterized as torture, you still get 68% of Americans who don’t see a problem with it.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 9, 2014 at 12:51 PM

lexhamfox on April 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

And if those terrorists had worn uniforms they would have fallen under agreed upon codes of conduct for prisoners… but they didn’t, so they don’t. Their choice was a no-holds barred war which doesn’t exclude any actions including torture, humiliation and execution of terrorist prisoners. Instead of questioning our actions, maybe you should be questioning why they chose a non-uniform approach when they knew the consequences.

dominigan on April 9, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Stop with the EIT crap.

If you’re for torture, grow a pair and state it.

corona79 on April 9, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Stop with the EIT crap.

If you’re for torture, grow a pair and state it.

corona79 on April 9, 2014 at 1:16 PM

If sodomising some guy, who ripped the heart out of his victim the day before and then ate it, with a Coke bottle, pulling out his nails and teeth with pliers, making him eat a slab of bacon, and then shooting him in the head saved your life, then you’re damn right that I’m ‘for’ torture.

Oh, and you can keep the ‘pair.’ As a woman, I am more than capable of doing what I have to do without borrowing part of the male anatomy.

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Can we get this straight: Any technique used to elicit information is not “torture.”

Torture is inflicting pain on someone for the sole purpose of making them suffer and/or for the enjoyment of the person inflicting the pain.

Lance Corvette on April 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

A Valerie Plame Postscript

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Thanks – that was another one of the episodes entered into my “Why I’m Not a Democrat” file.

AesopFan on April 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Good to know that must adults are actually grownups on this matter.

Torture works well enough in enough cases to justify trying it to prevent a terrorist attack when other methods fail. This is why Prof. Alan Dershowitz can point out that “All forms of torture are widespread among nations that have signed treaties prohibition all torture” – from essay “Tortured Reasoning”. Countries won’t admit it to avoid trouble from all the absurd soft-hearts whose lives they’re trying to protect. See also the book “Why Torture Works” by Prof. Dershowitz.

The top responsibility of all governments is the physical protection of its citizens. The pain free living of captive terrorists is not as important.

Chessplayer on April 9, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Waterboarding is not torture. If it was, media personalities would not have subjected themselves to it.

Valiant on April 9, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Resist We Much on April 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Do you have time for an OT lawyer question? Not advice but a plain question?

hawkdriver on April 9, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Poll: 68% of Americans say torturing terrorists is justified in some circumstances

Especially when the “torture” is pouring water over the terrorist’s face thereby scaring them.

RJL on April 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I think there are many of us who believe torture hasn’t occurred unless permanent physical damage occurs.

burt on April 9, 2014 at 3:33 PM

That like double the approval of Obama and the democrat’s signature Obamacare.

Murphy9 on April 9, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Irregular combatants captured on the battlefield can and should be tortured for info then shot.

Akzed on April 9, 2014 at 11:39 AM

And what do you consider “irregular combatants”?

And what makes you think that they would have information worth a torture session more than a “regular combatant”?

Why not shoot all prisoners after interrogation? It’s cheaper than guarding and feeding them?

Solaratov on April 9, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Yeah, the Valerie Plame case was an incredible joke. All of her family, friends, and neighbors knew she was employed by CIA. That means that she didn’t have ANY cover at all – nonetheless was some type of operative.

blink on April 9, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Everybody on the DC cocktail circuit knew she was CIA (and, a political appointee – not regular). If you brought her a drink from the open bar, she’d tell you all about it, too.

Solaratov on April 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Waterboarding isn’t torture and even if it was it’s well worth doing to jihadis to stop future attacks. These monsters do much worse to civilians everyday. I see it all the time in pictures from Syria. Regular beheadings taking pictures proudly with them. Waterboarding and other EIT techniques should be reinstated and black sites as well. Won’t happen in a million years with our dear leader in charge now though

sadsushi on April 9, 2014 at 7:37 PM