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Polls Framing Torture As Way to Gain Info Contribute to Violence Support

© Flickr / Val KerryThe wording, used in recent US public opinion polls, presents torture of terrorism suspects as a way to obtain crucially important information and thus makes Americans believe that the use of controversial interrogation methods is justifiable, a public opinion research expert told Sputnik News Agency Wednesday.
The wording, used in recent US public opinion polls, presents torture of terrorism suspects as a way to obtain crucially important information and thus makes Americans believe that the use of controversial interrogation methods is justifiable, a public opinion research expert told Sputnik News Agency Wednesday. - Sputnik International
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A public opinion research expert stated that the wording, used in recent US public opinion polls, shows torture of terrorism suspects as a way to obtain important information and makes Americans believe the CIA's interrogation methods are justifiable.

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MOSCOW, December 17 (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — The wording, used in recent US public opinion polls, presents torture of terrorism suspects as a way to obtain crucially important information and thus makes Americans believe that the use of controversial interrogation methods is justifiable, a public opinion research expert told Sputnik News Agency Wednesday.

"Nearly every question asked frames the issue [of the use of controversial interrogation practices such] as torture [as a method] to gain important information. As long as the country believes that torture leads to critical information, fear of another September 11- level attack will lead a significant proportion of the public to support the use of torture in some situations," said Kathleen Weldon, the Research Manager for the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research – the center at the University of Connecticut that specializes in data from public opinion polls.

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Weldon's commentary follows the release on Wednesday of a public opinion poll, conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, that showed that the majority of Americans believe that the use of torture is sometimes justifiable.

According to Weldon, the American public has  never been questioned on the acceptability of torture prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack and the "support level for using torture on suspected terrorists found in the ABC/Washington Post [poll] is consistent with earlier post-9/11 surveys."

Weldon added, however, that The Washington Post – ABC News poll has shown a certain increase in the number of those saying that the CIA misled US government and society regarding the use of torture, and a decrease in the number of those who say that there should be prosecutions.

Tom W. Smith, Senior Fellow at National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago — one of the largest independent social research organizations in the United States – also believes that wording, used in the polls, has much to do with the way Americans feel about the use of torture.

The majority of Americans in a poll believe that torture of suspected terrorists is justified, a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News in the wake of the CIA torture report revealed. - Sputnik International
Over Half of US Citizens Polled Can Justify Torture of Suspected Terrorists
"This is a complex issue and more questions with alternative wordings and focuses are needed before a good handle can be gained on the structure of the public's attitudes on the use of torture and what constitutes torture," Smith told Sputnik.

The Washington Post – ABC News poll, released on Wednesday, suggests that 59 percent of Americans think that the CIA torture of suspected terrorists was all in all justified with 53 percent, stating that the CIA interrogation methods produced "important information that could not have been obtained any other way." Only 20 percent of the country's population believe that torture is never justified.

The poll followed the December 9th release of the summary of the Senate Committee investigation into CIA interrogation techniques used on alleged al-Qaeda agents after the 9/11 attacks.

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