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05:03 PDA Bulletin - What do Iraqis Want? and Torture Justified?

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  • Charles Knight
    05:03 PDA Bulletin - What do Iraqis Want? and Torture Justified? - two new short takes from PDA - What do Iraqis want? Iraqi attitudes on occupation, US
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3 7:26 PM
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      05:03 PDA Bulletin - What do Iraqis Want? and Torture Justified? -
      two new short takes from PDA -

      "What do Iraqis want? Iraqi attitudes on occupation, US withdrawal,
      governments, and quality of life," compiled by Carl Conetta, 01
      February 2005

      (This is a free-standing version of Appendix 1 from PDA Briefing
      Report #17, January 2005: The Iraqi election "bait and switch":
      faulty poll will not bring peace or US withdrawal.)

      1. When Should Forces Leave?

      February 2004: 33 percent want withdrawal within a year; 40 percent,
      withdrawal once an Iraqi government is in place; 27 percent, a
      longer or more open-ended stay. (Oxford Research International)

      March-April 2004: 57 percent, "leave immediately"; 36 percent, "stay
      longer". (Gallup)

      June 2004: 41 percent, "immediate withdrawal"; 45 percent,
      withdrawal after election of a permanent government; 10 percent, 2
      years or longer. (Independent Institute for Administration and Civil

      June 2004: 30 percent desire immediate withdrawal, 51 percent want
      withdrawal after a government is elected, 13 percent said that
      Coalition forces should remain until stability was achieved. (Iraq
      Centre for Research & Strategic Studies)

      June 2004: 53 percent say leave now or "within a few months"
      or "until an Interim Government is in place" or "in six months to a
      year"; 33.5 percent allow "more than one year" or "until permanent
      government is in place"; 13.6 percent, even longer if necessary.
      (Oxford Research International)

      January 2005: 82 percent of Sunni Arabs and 69 percent of Shiites
      favor US withdrawal "either immediately or after an elected
      government is in place." (Zogby)

      2. Attitudes toward US forces

      February 2004: 56.3 percent of Iraqis somewhat or strongly oppose
      the presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. "Strongly oppose"
      versus "strongly support" is 2.5-to-1. (Oxford Research

      March-April 2004: 58 percent say US forces have behaved very or
      fairly badly; 34 percent say US forces have behaved very or fairly
      well. The ratio between those saying "very bad" and those
      saying "very well": 3-to-1. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

      March-April 2004: 30 percent say that attacks on US forces were
      somewhat or completely justified; another 22 percent said they were
      sometimes justified. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

      May 2004: 87 percent express little or no confidence in US coalition
      forces; 92 percent view coalition forces as occupiers, rather than
      liberators or peace keepers. (Independent Institute for
      Administration and Civil Society/CPA)

      June 2004: 67 percent of Iraqis strongly or somewhat oppose the
      presence of Coalition troops; 30 percent support. (Iraq Centre for
      Research & Strategic Studies)

      June 2004: 58 percent of Iraqis somewhat or strongly oppose the
      presence of Coalition forces in Iraq. Strongly oppose versus
      strongly support is 3-to-1. (Oxford Research International)

      June 2004: 70 percent say Coalition troops are an occupying or
      exploiting force; 30 percent say a liberating or peacekeeping force.
      (Oxford Research International)

      June 2004: Invasion of Iraq was absolutely right say 13.2 percent;
      somewhat right, 27.6 percent; somewhat wrong, 25.7 percent;
      absolutely wrong, 33.5 percent. (Oxford Research International)

      January 2005: 53 percent of Sunni Arabs say ongoing attacks are a
      legitimate form of resistance. (Zogby)

      3. Attitudes toward the Coalition Provisional Authority and the
      Iraqi government

      February 2004, Oxford: 31 percent express confidence in CPA, 69
      percent do not. 43 percent express confidence in Iraqi government,
      57.3 percent do not. (Oxford Research International)

      March-April: 42 percent of Iraqis judge CPA behavior to be fairly or
      very bad; 25 percent say it was fairly or very good. The ratio
      between those saying "very bad" and those saying "very good" is 4-to-
      1. (Gallup/CNN/USA Today)

      May 2004: 85 percent of Iraqis express little or no confidence in
      the CPA; 66 percent express little or no confidence in the Iraqi
      Governing Council. (Independent Institute for Administration and
      Civil Society/CPA)

      June 2004: 25.6 percent express confidence in CPA, 74.4 percent do
      not; 42.7 percent express confidence in IGC, 57.3 percent do not.
      (Oxford Research International)

      October 2004: 55 percent say Interim Government does not represent
      the interests of people like them "very much" or "at all". Nearly 50
      percent find the government to be ineffective; 43 percent find it to
      be effective - a sharp decline since the government took office in
      June 2004. (International Republican Institute.)

      4. Is life better or worse?

      March-April 2004: 46 percent say the US invasion has done more harm
      than good; 33 percent say more good. (Gallup)

      March-April 2004: 42 percent say Iraq is better off today than
      before the invasion, 39 percent say worse, 17 percent say the same.

      August 2004: 46 percent of Iraqis say their situation has improved
      since the fall of Hussein, 31 percent say it has grown worse, and 21
      percent say it is unchanged. (International Republican Institute)

      Principal Polls:

      Press Release, Survey Finds Deep Divisions in Iraq; Sunni Arabs
      Overwhelmingly Reject Sunday Elections; Majority of Sunnis, Shiites
      Favor U.S. Withdrawal, New Abu Dhabi TV - Zogby Poll Reveals (Utica,
      NY: Zogby International, 28 January 2005), available at:

      International Republican Institute polls: Survey of Iraqi Public
      Opinion, September 24 - October 4, 2004 (Washington DC:
      International Republican Institute, October 2004), available at:
      http://www.iri.org/pub.asp?id=7676767887;Survey of Iraqi Public
      Opinion, July 24 - August 2, 2004 (Washington DC: International
      Republican Institute, August 2004), available at:

      Oxford Research International polls: National Survey of Iraq,
      February 2004 (Oxford, UK: Oxford Research International); National
      Survey of Iraq, June 2004 (Oxford, UK: Oxford Research
      International); both available at:

      Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society/CPA poll:
      Public Opinion in Iraq: First Poll Following Abu Ghraib Revelations
      14-23 May 2004 (Baghdad: CPA, May 2004), available at:

      Gallup poll conducted with USA Today and CNN: Cesar G. Soriano and
      Steven Komarow, "Poll: Iraqis out of patience," USA Today, 28 April
      2004; "Key findings: Nationwide survey of 3,500 Iraqis," USA Today,
      28 April 2004, available at:
      findings.htm. Also see: Richard Burkholder, Gallup Poll of Iraq:
      Liberated, Occupied, or in Limbo? (Princeton, NJ: Gallop
      Organization, 28 April 2004).


      Juan Cole, "Spinning Iraqi Opinion at Taxpayer Expense,"
      Antiwar.com, 25 October 2004, available at:

      Robin Wright, "Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll; U.S.-Supported
      Government Is Losing Ground, Washington Post, 22 October 2004, p. 1;

      Mark Turner, "80% of Iraqis want coalition troops out," Financial
      Times, 7 July 2004;

      Michael Hirsh, "Grim Numbers," Newsweek, 16 June 2004;

      John Lemke, "Poll: Security, unemployment major problems, UPI, 25
      May 2004.

      Poll summaries and collections:

      "Opinion Polls in Iraq," Iraqanalysis.org,

      Iraq Index: Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq
      (Washington DC: Brookings Institution), section on public opinion
      polls; available at: http://www.brookings.edu/iraqindex

      Frederick Barton and Bathsheba Crocker, project directors, Progress
      or Peril? Measuring Iraq's Reconstruction (Washington DC: CSIS,
      September 2004), available at:


      "Agonizing Issue: is torture ever justified in military
      interrogations of terror suspects?," interview with Charles Knight,
      Co-director, Project on Defense Alternatives and Alfred P. Rubin,
      Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Law, The Fletcher
      School, Tufts University, edited transcript by Jim Cronin in the
      The "Boston Globe Magazine," 30 January 2005.

      Accusations of torture and the highly publicized prison abuse in
      Iraq have cast a shadow over the US military's treatment of
      detainees. Harvard Law School is offering a spring semester
      course, "Torture, Law and Lawyers," on the ethics and legality of
      torture. This leads to a question: Can torture in military
      interrogations of terror suspects ever be justified? We asked Alfred
      Rubin, professor emeritus of international law at the Fletcher
      School at Tufts University, and Charles Knight, co-director of the
      Project on Defense Alternatives at the Commonwealth Institute in
      Cambridge, to address it.

      RUBIN: It you've caught someone and you know that person has
      information, then torture for tactical information is justifiable.
      But if it cannot produce useful information, it is morally
      reprehensible. Legally speaking, the UN Convention Against Torture
      requires every state to forbid torture, and that [enforcement] is
      really up to the states that practice it. Many states that have
      signed the convention don't enforce their national law against
      torture. The United States is one of the few states that we do have
      national laws that forbids torture. But torture is believed to be
      practiced morally correctly [by the United States] when, as with the
      Bush administration's explanation for torture in Guantanamo, the
      information obtained can be used to prevent a more serious moral

      KNIGHT: It is in our interest to further a practice which we would
      advocate that all nations have? Is that a world we favor moving
      forward into?

      RUBIN: If you capture the guy who has hidden a bomb that's going to
      kill 10 innocent people - say, schoolchildren - and the torturer
      genuinely feels he can get the information of where the bomb is,
      torture would be justified. It's a moral evaluation made by the
      person who's doing the torturing. One has to recognize that torture
      is practiced by many states, including the United States.

      KNIGHT: It's very rare when you have this perfect situation where
      you know that a particular prisoner has information that's
      immediately useful. It's a misleading scenario. Torture turns out to
      be routinely unproductive. In domestic laws, we forbid confessions
      under duress in part because they almost never get to the truth.
      That same knowledge should be applied to our international
      conflicts. It demonstrates a huge lack of creativity and imagination
      in our intelligence agencies that resort to torture. It goes very
      quickly to the abuse that was seen at Abu Ghraib. The interrogators
      wanted the prison guards to "soften up" the detainees, whether or
      not they knew anything. It's a very dangerous process.

      RUBIN: The enforcement of law is multifaceted, and the violation of
      law is serious. The 1949 Geneva Conventions don't actually forbid
      torture; they require states to forbid it, which we do, and the same
      with the UN Convention Against Torture. We have enacted the laws
      that forbid torture, and those laws have been violated in Abu
      Ghraib, where we were trying to keep it a secret. Those laws should
      be enforced.

      KNIGHT: There's a huge realm of secrecy which is expanding. The [US]
      government won't let me assess their behavior in a practical way.
      When I don't know what my government is doing to prisoners in, say,
      Guantanamo, I have no information on which to exercise my democratic
      responsibility to make a judgment on my government. It goes against
      the very principle of democracy.

      RUBIN: And yet the majority of Americans has shown by our last
      election they prefer not to know, and they reelect a government
      which keeps secrecy. I think a lot of them are prepared to say that
      power to keep secrecy belongs with the federal government, and they
      fool themselves into thinking they need not live with the
      consequences of secrecy and torture. But democracy frequently elects
      antidemocratic leaders. Certainly in Vietnam, Johnson and Kennedy
      were prepared to support [President Ngo Dinh] Diem, and the current
      administration seems to support governments in China, Albania,
      Russia, and others.

      KNIGHT: I'm fearful we will pay for this abuse of foreign prisoners
      in our own society for generations. The United States is now
      training hundreds, maybe thousands, of new interrogators. Abusive
      relationships traumatize both the victim and the abuser. We are
      training and having our own people experience this abuse, and they
      will be returning home to our communities. We know from domestic
      abuse that this abusive pattern can be replicated through

      RUBIN: I disagree. A sadist who wants to torture is going to
      torture. People make up their own minds whether or not to torture.

      KNIGHT: Following the revelation about Abu Ghraib, some of the
      insurgent hostage takers escalated to severing hostages' heads. You
      could feel a direct "we can do you one better" in terms of cruelty.
      The United States did not have an understanding of the insurgency
      they were facing. They began to round up people in a very
      indiscriminate way. If you're not prepared to handle the
      complexities of what you're dealing with, there's a gravitation
      toward using violence to solve the problem.

      Also see "Outsourcing Torture and the Problems of 'Quality Control'"
      by Charles Knight --

      Visit What's New at PDA -- http://www.comw.org/pda/new.html
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