Most Americans OK With Torturing Terror Suspects: Poll

One party stands behind it more than the other
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2016 10:39 AM CDT
Most Americans OK With Torturing Terror Suspects: Poll
In this Dec. 6, 2006, file photo, a shackled detainee is transported away from his annual hearing with US officials at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.   (AP Photo/Brennan Llinsley, File)

Donald Trump made some waves in early March when he made pro-torture statements at a GOP debate (he walked that back somewhat the next day). But he likely wouldn't have offended a good number of Americans, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. Per the poll of nearly 2,000 US adults (18 and over) between March 22 and March 28, almost two-thirds of respondents are OK with the US using torture methods to get info from terror suspects, Reuters reports. About one-quarter of those asked agreed torture is "often" justified "against suspected terrorists to obtain information about terrorism," with another 38% saying it was "sometimes" justified; just 15% said it should never be employed.

And 64% of US citizens feel like a terror attack within the next six months is "very likely" or "somewhat likely," the Hill notes. There's a disparity, too, between political parties, with 82% of Republicans noting torturous methods are "often" or "sometimes" justified, while only 53% of Democrats feel this way. Trump himself may be exacerbating Americans' fears due to recent attacks overseas (e.g., France, Belgium) and at home (San Bernardino); he's said that techniques like waterboarding should be on the table, despite outcry from human rights groups, and that he'll "bring back a hell of a lot worse" methods if he assumes the White House. "The public right now is coping with a host of negative emotions," says a Vanderbilt University professor. "Fear, anger, general anxiety: [Trump] gives a certain credibility to these feelings." (Read more torture stories.)

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