Majority of Americans Oppose the Use of Torture

A majority of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll oppose the use of torture in terrorism investigations, backing Barack Obama’s pledge that “under my administration, the United States does not torture.” Overall, 58 percent support the prohibition Obama declared before taking office. (See below the results of the poll.) The politics of torture and the issue of closing Guantanamo are linked, after last week’s plain declaration by Bush Administration official Susan Crawford, that “We tortured [Mohammed al-] Qahtani,” a Saudi national held there. With Obama’s order to suspend judicial proceedings against terrorism suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba today, and a draft executive order circulating that would close Guantanamo within a year, it is heartening to see public opinion on the side of the rule of law.

As President Obama said in yesterday’s Inaugural Address:

We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

Here is the poll question and results:

Q. Obama has said that under his administration the United States will not use torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, no matter what the circumstance. Do you support this position not to use torture, or do you think there are cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism

Support not using torture / There are cases to consider torture / No opinion

All: 58 / 40 / 2

Democrats: 71 / 28 / 2

Republicans: 42 / 55 / 3

Independents: 56 / 43 / 2

Men: 49 / 50 / 1

Women: 65 / 31 / 3

Dem Men: 65 / 33 / 2

Dem Women: 75 / 23 / 1

GOP Men: 34 / 65 / 1

GOP Women: 50 / 45 / 6

Ind Men: 45 / 55 / *

Ind Women: 66 / 31 / 3

Liberal: 72 / 27 / 1

Moderate: 57 / 42 / 1

Conservative: 47 / 50 / 3


Published on January 21, 2009


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