Thursday, April 30, 2009

New York Times/CBS News Poll: Torture

Photo: Crowd at Union Square between 1910 - 1915

On April 27, 2009, the most recent New York Times/CBS news poll was released. 

Within that poll were a number of questions on the torture issue. Although there was no question asking respondents their views about having an investigation. There was a question that asked about Congress holding hearings. This question gives a distorted view about the general discussion about investigating torture because a lot of us who want investigations don't want Congress involved and would have answered no to that question. And because this was the only question about investigations it really does not give us much understanding about the level of support for investigations.

68. Do you want Congress to hold hearings to investigate whether the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees,  the use of wiretaps and other Justice Department broke the law or don’t you think that’s necessary?

34%   Want hearings

62%   Don't think necessary

4%     Don't know

Question 63 was a very encouraging question because it shows that the public does not think waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques are ever justified.

63. Do you think it is sometimes justified to use waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques from a suspected terrorist, or are these tactics never justified?

37%    Justified

46%    Never Justified

  7%    Depends

 10%   Don't know 

The poll also shows that the public overwhelmingly believes that waterboarding is torture.

64. In a procedure known as “waterboarding,” interrogators produce the sensation of drowning in a restrained prisoner either by dunking him in water or pouring water over his face. Do you consider this procedure a form of torture, or not?

71%   Torture

26%   Not Torture

  3%   Don't Know  


As in the other recently released polls we discover that the majority of the people with these views are not liberals. 

How would you describe your views on most political matters? Generally do you think of yourself as a liberal, moderate or conservative?

22%   Liberal

42%   Moderate

29%   Conservative

   7%   Don't know or N/A


For those of us who are trying to get the media to tell the truth on this issue, the question below is important. Americans still get most of their news from TV so this is where we should primarily direct our attention.

Where do you usually get most of your news about what's going on in the world today - from the newspapers, or radio, or television, or the internet, or someplace else?

16%    Newspapers

  5%    Radio

60%    TV

15%    Internet

  1%    Someplace else

  2%    Don't Know or N/A     


The NYT story that accompanied the release of this poll only said this about the torture issue:

The poll found broad support for Mr. Obama’s approach on a variety of issues, including one of the most contentious: whether Congress should investigate the harsh interrogation tactics authorized by George W. Bush. Sixty-two percent of Americans share Mr. Obama’s view that hearings are unnecessary.

UPDATE: Question 63 might not be as positive as I first thought. See my post on the Pew poll.

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