Majority opposes torture probe

A new poll shows most Americans believe waterboarding is torture, but don't want it investigated.

Published May 6, 2009 5:45PM (EDT)

CNN has just released the results of a poll, conducted at the end of last month, that shows a majority of Americans are against the idea of investigating Bush administration officials over the use of torture.

57 percent of respondents told CNN that Congress shouldn't conduct an investigation of officials who authorized the interrogation techniques used during the previous administration. 42 percent disagreed. Similarly, 55 percent opposed the idea of an investigation conducted by an independent panel, while 42 percent favored it. 50 percent of those polled said they approved of the use of the techniques, while 46 percent disapproved and three percent had no opinion.

This despite the fact that in the same poll a clear majority of respondents -- 60 percent -- said those techniques are "a form of torture," while 36 percent disagreed.

There have been a number of other polls on these issues, almost all of them slightly conflicting. A recent Gallup survey, for instance, found a slight majority in favor of investigations, though when factoring in only those respondents who said they were paying close attention to the debate, the numbers were reversed. Overall, though the country's close to split, the trend seems to indicate that public opinion leans a little bit against investigation.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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