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Poll results: Waterboarding is torture

  • Story Highlights
  • 69 percent say technique is torture; 58 percent say U.S. shouldn't use it
  • Interrogation method an issue in attorney general nomination
  • Michael Mukasey's refusal to reject technique troubles some senators
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans consider waterboarding a form of torture, but some of those say it's OK for the U.S. government to use the technique, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Michael Mukasey said waterboarding is repugnant, but he stopped short of saying it was torture.

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

In the procedure, water is used on restrained prisoners to make them feel like they are drowning.

The practice became an issue during the recent confirmation hearings for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, who has refused to categorically reject the practice.

Mukasey told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that while he finds waterboarding personally "repugnant," he could not answer "hypothetical" questions about whether the technique amounts to torture.

Senators' reaction to Mukasey's statements on waterboarding and the president's power to order warrantless electronic surveillance threw his nomination into doubt.

But his confirmation was all but assured last week when two key Democratic senators said they will vote in favor of Mukasey despite the controversy. Video See which key senators support Mukasey »

The committee is scheduled to take up the nomination Tuesday.

Bush nominated Mukasey to replace longtime ally Alberto Gonzales, who resigned in September.

Sources with knowledge of the CIA-run interrogation program have said waterboarding is not currently being used in its interrogations. But those sources have said waterboarding was used in the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now facing trial before a military tribunal for planning al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.


Waterboarding was used during the Spanish Inquisition and by Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the World War II Japanese military, according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. telephone poll of 1,024 American adults was carried out over the weekend and had a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About TortureU.S. Office of the Attorney General

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