In the wake of last week's release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program, 69 percent of Americans consider waterboarding to be torture, but 49 percent think aggressive interrogation tactics like waterboarding are sometimes justified. 36 percent think they are not justified.
More than half (57 percent) think that such interrogation tactics provide reliable information that helps prevent terrorist attacks at least some of the time. Fifty-two percent of Americans think the release of information regarding the CIA interrogation tactics poses a threat to U.S. security; a third doesn't think it will have an impact.
Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee must be mystified. Their report found that EITs have virtually no redeeming value, and thus in the end furnished the CIA with no "accurate information." The CIA director was less categorical about the effectiveness of the program, however, saying that of the three individuals who were waterboarded, their testimony proved not entirely useless.
“I have already stated that our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives,” he said in a press conference last week. “But let me be clear: We have not concluded that it was the EITs within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detains subjected to them. The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the [detainees] is in my view unknowable.”
Yet, there are those who vigorously supported such interrogation methods after 9/11, and still do today. Dick Cheney, most notably, said over the weekend that he’d “do it again in a minute” -- meaning, I think, that he has no second thoughts or doubts about pushing the progam. Obviously some people -- especially congressional Democrats -- disagree.
Nevertheless, despite the committee’s questionable findings, it’s remarkable that about half of respondents surveyed in the CBS poll support EITs on occasion, even if roughly a third or so believe “they are never justified.”