Thursday, January 22, 2009

Even a loaded ABC poll finds Americans in opposition to torture

Despite being phrased in "the most pro-torture manner possible," a new ABC poll finds Americans in favor of the rule of law and in opposition to torture by a wide margin. Glenn Greenwald of Salon illuminates on the poll results:
Q. Obama has said that under his administration the United States will not use torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, no matter what the circumstance. Do you support this position not to use torture, or do you think there are cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism suspects? (Greenwald's emphasis)
The question, posed in that "ludicrous, 24-clich├ęd 'ticking time bomb' excuse" found 58% of Americans responding that the U.S. should never torture, no matter the circumstances.

A majority of Americans also favors the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and a slim majority even favors investigation into the legality of Bush administration policies regarding the treatment of detainees, asking that they be tried in U.S. courts.

Greenwald's analysis flies in the face of both the "conservative America" thesis of Republican talking heads, as well as their concept of the "liberal media":

What's most remarkable about the fact that a majority of Americans favor investigations is that one has to struggle to find even a single politician of national significance or a prominent media figure who argue that position. The notion that Bush officials shouldn't be criminally investigated is about as close to a lockstep consensus among political and media elites as it gets, and yet, still, a majority of Americans favor such investigations.

...

Our political elites endlessly deny these facts -- and insist that Americans don't care about the rule of law and Constitutional values -- because that's how they excuse their own violations and their refusal to hold themselves accountable: "We can't investigate Bush because the public wouldn't tolerate it; we can't abide by Constitutional norms because we'll lose elections if we appear soft on terror." But those claims are false. There may (or may not be) reasonable grounds for arguing against constitutional protections and imposing consequences on those who violate them, but the fact that public opinion won't permit such actions is quite clearly not one of those grounds.

New poll on torture and investigations negates Beltway conventional wisdom (Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com)

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