Just a reminder to everyone: torture is a crime under U.S. law. No exceptions, period. Would have loved to see Pew ask whether it would have been justified to waterboard Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to see if they had co-conspirators. What Pew did with its poll on the Senate torture report is effectively present not a truly objective question on the issue of whether torture was permitted under U.S. and international law, not a question seeking to understand whether the public knew torture was ineffective based on centuries of repellent experience, but whether it was justified regardless of its illegality.
And I thought this paragraph was particularly telling:
While the report on the CIA’s interrogation methods captured much of Washington’s attention, it was not the public’s most closely followed story last week. Overall, 23% followed news about the release of the Senate report on CIA interrogations very closely; more (35%) paid very close attention to news about protests around the country in response to police-related violence.
Did Pew even ask if poll respondents read even portions of the report…say, the executive summary? No.
So Pew asked a group of Americans who were barely paying attention to the news reports on this topic and who, so far as I can tell, were not even polled on whether they’d read a single word of the report, whether they thought the CIA’s torture tactics were “justified”. If you’re looking for the real explanation as to why George Tenet, Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and other former and current CIA officials will never be held accountable for their initiation and management of America’s first publicly acknowledged torture program–and why a future torture program remains a possibility–Pew Research just gave you the answer.