Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are Americans more willing than ever to torture?

Coalition member Vickie Hoffman sends along a link to this truly disturbing essay:

Days after the thwarted Christmas bombing, the Rasmussen Group took a poll. They asked whether the failed bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should be tried in civilian or military court. Seventy-one percent said military.

They also asked whether he should be waterboarded to extract information about his connection to terrorism. In a sign of the times, 58 percent of respondents said yes, even though he had already confessed.

By themselves, the numbers are alarming but not surprising. Other recent polls have consistently shown substantial support for torture and considerable skepticism about the use of civilian courts to prosecute terror suspects. And this despite the empirical proof: after eight years, there is no evidence that information secured by torture could not have been secured by lawful means, and despite the hysteria, we have successfully prosecuted terrorists in civilian courts for many years with no complications.

But this particular poll reveals something more important than the stubborn persistence of mythology. After all, as recently as late 2007, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that a third of all Americans, and 40 percent of Republicans, still believed Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. The more significant fact about the most recent poll is what it reveals about the arc of American thought since 9/11. [...]

Read the whole thing.

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