A new poll reveals that while the vast majority of Americans think extreme interrogation tactics like water boarding constitute torture, nearly half believe such tactics are sometimes okay.
The nationwide poll, conducted by SSRS Media for CBS News and published Monday, found that 49 percent of Americans believe it is sometimes justified to use tactics like waterboarding to get information. Another 36 percent said they are never justified.
But 69 percent of Americans do consider that enhanced interrogation technique to be torture. And 70 percent or more of Americans believe forcing a prisoner to stay awake for up to 180 hours and threatening to sexually abuse a prisoner’s mother are both forms of torture.
And 57 percent believe those tactics often or sometimes produce reliable information that helps prevent terrorist attacks.
That assumption, however, was debunked by a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation techniques, which found that such aggressive tactics aren’t effective in securing actionable, reliable intelligence from prisoners.
Many Republicans opposed the release of the report out of concern that it could stoke violence against the United States. The CBS News poll suggests that’s a major concern for most Americans as well, with 52 percent of respondents saying they believe the release poses a threat to U.S. security.
The survey was conducted among 1,003 adults nationwide from Dec. 11-14, and has a margin of error of 3 percent.