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Public Opinion on Torture, the Iraq War, and Civil Liberties

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  • Peter Phillips
    Public Opinion on Torture, the Iraq War, and Civil Liberties New findings from Retro Poll: May 6, 2005 Berkeley - In a series of polls by Retro Poll 72-89
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2005
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      Public Opinion on Torture, the Iraq War, and Civil Liberties

      New findings from Retro Poll: May 6, 2005

      Berkeley - In a series of polls by Retro Poll 72-89 percent of the
      American public consistently opposed the use of torture by the U.S.
      government. A recent poll by the Gallup organization confirmed these
      results.

      In a new poll completed May 1st Retro Poll has found that 67.3
      percent of those polled knew torture is against U.S. laws and a war
      crime. But many people remained unaware that their government is
      systematically employing torture. For example, only 32.7 percent had
      seen media reports that the U.S. was "rendering" captives, sending
      them to be tortured by outlaw governments, whose practices the U.S.
      supposedly abhors; and less than half (47.3 percent) knew that the
      International Red Cross issued a secret report to the government,
      later leaked to the press, that accused the U.S. of systematic use of
      torture at Guantanamo. Indeed 58 percent of those questioned believed
      that the torture so far exposed is the result of "a few bad apples".

      In addition, based upon two sequential polls, about one in three
      Americans still believes that Saddam Hussein worked with the Al Qaeda
      terror network. This subgroup of Americans opposed withdrawal from
      Iraq (57.6 percent to 42.4 percent) although more than half of those
      polled by Retro Poll (52 percent), and 57 percent in a CNN poll
      released May 3rd, favored a full U.S. withdrawal. Presently neither
      the President nor the Democratic Party are calling for an U.S.
      timetable for withdrawal.

      The same respondents who found terrorism a justification for the Iraq
      war also tended to have less critical views on torture. When asked
      whether they approve of the appointments of John Negroponte as
      National Intelligence Chief and Albert Gonzales as Attorney General
      in view of their support for the use of torture, 30 percent of those
      who believe Saddam worked with Al Qaeda approved the nominations.
      However, only 11 percent of those who knew that Saddam and Al Qaeda
      were enemies approved. This is a significant difference (p=. 009 by
      chi-squared test).

      Fifty seven percent of the poll sample supported a moratorium on
      executions in the U.S. until systematic unfairness in the application
      of the death penalty has been addressed, (the same proportion as in a
      September, 2004 Retro poll). Opposition to specific intrusions
      authorized by the Patriot Act remained strong when detailed. However,
      opposition varied from as low as 54 percent against local businesses
      and professionals being required to turn over info to the government,
      to as high as 86 percent when federal officials are authorized to
      "enter your home and investigate you, recording and copying
      materials" without telling you. This 32-point gap suggests a failure
      to recognize that the Patriot Act is worded so that many provisions
      can be arbitrary applied to anyone without cause.

      Opposition to lengthy detentions without trial remained strong (75
      percent) as did support for international prosecution of war crimes
      (73 percent). . The poll reached 205 people in 40 states and has a
      margin of error statistic of 5.6-7%.

      Contact: Marc Sapir, MD, MPH
      Executive Director, Retro Poll
      Thurs/Fri 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.: (510) 266-1725
      before 8 a.m. and after 7 p.m. (510) 848-3826
      marcsapir@...
      www.retropoll.org

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