November 6th, 2007
09:20 AM ET
15 years ago

Poll results: Waterboarding is torture

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A majority of Americans consider waterboarding a form of torture, but some of those say it's OK for the U.S. government to use the technique, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

Full story

Filed under: Polls
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    A detailed interview with CIA Director Micheal Hayden can be found on Much more enlightening than anything ever reported by CNN on the topic.

    About 19 minutes in he says the rate of renditions is lower now than it was in the 90s. Too bad Charlie didn't follow up or things might have gotten really interesting. Democrats might want to find out what was done under the Clinton administration because we know that is how Democrats decide right from wrong.

    November 6, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Jay, Kenosha, WI

    A better link to the CIA Director interview that discusses torture:


    November 6, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. David, Encinitas, CA

    It's heartening to see so the vast majority of posts come from people who cherish the values that this country represents. For those others that believe that torture is ever justified (JB et al), perhaps you would rather live in a country which agrees with your philosophy? Do you think you would be safer living in a country like Iran or Syria?

    American principles, which value freedom, require a certain amount of risk. Perfect safety is an illusion – and we're paying for it with our liberty. Don't get conned into buying something that does not exist.

    I believe that Feinstein and Schumer have betrayed us by not standing by their principles. She has certainly lost my vote.

    November 6, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  4. Informed, USA

    To Dave the constitutional scholar in TX,

    First, the eighth amendment has always been interpreted by the Court as applying only to U.S. citizens, here and abroad, and visitors. Second, the eighth amendment prohibits cruel and unusual PUNISHMENT, meaning the government has already convicted the person. The detainees in the secret prisons have not been convicted, so at best it becomes a habeas corpus argument, not an eighth amendment question.

    It's fine to argue that a civilized country should not prohibit torture, but don't misinterpret a right just so you get your way.

    November 6, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  5. Lee, Mays Landing NJ

    It's disgusting and downright shameful that as Americans we have anything to do with this.
    Apparently it took a self-professed "christian" president with fanatical "christian" followers to bring us back into the middle ages and to resemble the mind set and methods of the backwards fundamentalists that support Osama bin Laden.
    Challenge every phony American-style republican-christian on torture. We know people like this everywhere in our communities, and even in our families. Who would Jesus torture, anyway?
    God help us with the sad state of American christianity.

    November 7, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  6. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    So people who believe waterboarding should be used in certain situations only watch Fox news?

    What the hell am I doing here? My bad.

    Hillarity actually stated previously that the President should have the authority to use certain methods, but later changed her tune after some internal polling suggested that not enough people agreed with her. Look it up, it's true.

    Waterboarding for you uninformed NPR, MSNBC sheep (see how easy it is to generalize) has been used a grand total of three times and in at least one instance with KSM using it on him he gave us useful information on not only who he BEHEADED, but where we can get more of the bad guys.

    Stop repeating the lies that it has never worked as it worked on him, and stop repeating the lies that we do this to everyone, 3 TIMES, that's it.

    You high and mighty liars, would sing a different tune if it was your family member that could be saved using this technique, save your lying indignation and post 9-11 mentalities.

    Do you sheep really believe that these dirtbags will not cut our heads off if we stop waterboarding?

    Can someone please attempt to rationalize that thought process?

    You must have all missed the woefully under-reported story where our fine men and women uncovered current rape and torture rooms in Iraq with manuals on how to torture American soldiers in UNIFORM, what was missing from their manuals was waterboarding as it was not SEVERE enough.

    Think about that sheep.

    We are not lowering our ideals, as these dirtbags do not meet the criteria that would protect them from these methods and the ends do justify the means no matter how much the MSM lies about how much this technique is used.

    Sleep deprivation, barking dogs, loud music, this is brutal torture?

    I respect John McCain, but I also disagree with him, but you sheep can keep using his stance as a way of justifying yours, I proudly volunteered and served and I am just voicing my freedom of speech as well.

    I however do not respect Ted Kennedy at all, but I must admit that if anyone is a real expert on “water torture” it would be him.

    November 7, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Ryan in New York–

    The problem is, the same people saying "waterboarding isn't torture 'cause it doesn't really hurt you" are probably the same people who think that people with mental illnesses and psychological trauma should just man up and get over it. There are a lot of people out there who are happy to play it tough and say that psychological trauma isn't a big deal, at least until it happens to them.

    November 7, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. no_man_is_an_island, Pittsburgh, PA

    If the US wants to be regarded as the moral exemplar of the world, we must not resort to the tactics of Third World brutes.

    This is the price we pay for being the most powerful nation on earth. We must be better than the Banana-Republic tin-pot dictators who resort to these methods.

    If it is acceptable for the US to torture presumed enemies, it is only a matter of time before it will be acceptable for the US to torture American citizens. The brute who is in the White House then will call upon this as a precedent to justify his actions.

    November 7, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  9. Phil Chicago, Ill

    The Constitution is the foundation for all law within the United States. Not only does it include articles relating to how our government is to interact with foreign powers, it is very specific in its use of the word “citizen” (such as, citizens are guaranteed the right to vote) or avoidance of that limiter (such as, the language prohibiting slavery, unreasonable search and seizure, etc). You’ll note that we can’t enslave foreigners, our police cannot raid foreigner’s homes at will, etc.

    Posted By David, Dallas, TX


    David – you might need to educate YOURSELF before attempting to educate anyone else. A little "help" for you on a few matters:

    1) (Regarding Illegal Aliens having Constitutional Rights): immigration proceedings are matters of administrative law, not criminal law. (As a result, the consequence of violating your immigration status is not jail but deportation.) And Congress has nearly full authority to regulate immigration without interference from the courts. Because immigration is considered a matter of national security and foreign policy, the Supreme Court has long held that immigration law is largely immune from judicial review. Congress can make rules for immigrants that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens.

    2) (Enemy Combatants) In the 1942 Supreme Court of the United States ruling Ex Parte Quirin the court uses the terms with their historical meanings to distinguish between unlawful combatants and lawful combatants:

    Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals.

    3) (Geneva Convention & Enemy Combatants): Apart from Iraqi soldiers detained in uniform and certain members of Saddam Hussein's chain of command–most Iraqi detainees are arrested as civilians and fall under the protection not of the Third Geneva Convention but of the Fourth.

    The Fourth allows–indeed obliges–an occupying power to use its discretion within wide parameters to maintain law and order (Article 64), and contains no specific restriction on interrogation, other than saying that "protected persons" not be subjected to "physical or moral coercion" (Article 31). But–note well–protected persons are defined as "persons taking no active part in the hostilities" (Article 3).

    In other words, the Geneva Conventions do not speak specifically to the interrogation treatment of non-uniformed Baathist or jihadi guerrillas detained in connection with attacks on U.S. forces or Iraqi civilians. Except that the Fourth does permit us to execute them (Article 68)–a practice often seen in the less politically correct wars of years past.

    ..... Bottom line, David, non-US citizens do not retain the same rights as US citizens – that you all wish to confer. Enemy combatants do not qualify under the Geneva Convention and therefore we are not guided by the requirements of treatment found under the Convention. At best – these terrorists are entitled to a military tribunal and punished according to the findings.

    But you ACLU types keep crying and howling how unfair it is for these poor poor terrorists. Perhaps Bush will stick a few of you folks in Gitmo??

    November 7, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. Steve, Lyons, Co

    15 years of hard labor when a Japanese waterboarded Americans in 1947. Fast forward to 2007: It's OK now, just "repugnant." Sounds like the decline of a civilization…

    Posted By T. Tim, Lodi, WI : November 6, 2007 4:08 pm


    Hey genius – OUR soldiers were apart of a standing army, in uniform and met the definition of the Geneva Convention for treatment of POWs.

    THESE terrorists are NOT apart of a standing army, are NOT wearing uniforms, and do NOT qualify under the Geneva Convention.

    Get a clue, dude.

    November 7, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Steve, Landing, NJ


    You would make a compelling case if we were only discussing people detained in Iraq while under American Occupation. BUT...

    1: Regarding illegal aliens, the fact that immigration law is not subject in large part to judicial review has NO BEARING on the rights of illegal aliens to free speech, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, etc. They can be deported without trial, but they sure as heck cannot be tortured.
    2: Terrorists aren't frickin' spies, the most obvious definitional obfuscation in your comments... They don't represent an army or nation, they are criminals pure and simple.
    3: Many of these people in US Custody are NOT from Iraq, many have never even BEEN to Iraq...
    4: Because Iraqi sovereignty has been legally restored, how can we consider the US an occupying army? Aren't they really just providing security for an allied nation?
    5: By what standard are these insurgents not protected persons? Unless they have no ties at all to a signing nation of the fourth convention...

    November 7, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. David, Dallas Tx

    Phil from Chicago rebutted me thus: David – you might need to educate YOURSELF before attempting to educate anyone else. A little "help" for you on a few matters:

    You make a good argument; it is unfortunate that the argument you make doesn't in fact rebut my argument.

    My discussion was solely about whether or not the Constitution only applies to US citizens. It is patently obvious that its authority and some of its protections extend beyond our citizenry.

    I never said citizens and non-citizens were covered equally by the Constitution. In fact I gave examples where they were not. Therefore, your examples about immigration law and such, while completely factual, fail to rebut my argument at all.

    Similarly, your entire discussion about the Geneva Convention cannot address my point. If the Geneva Convention suspended habeas corpus, it wouldn't override the Constitution. There's nothing in the Geneva Convention which will prove that the Constitution only applies to US citizens.

    You said the Constitution only applied to US citizens. I said you were incorrect. Your arguments underscore that we can treat citizens and non-citizens differently, which is allowed under the Constitution, but fail to address my point.

    November 7, 2007 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  13. Jay, Kenosha

    A detailed interview with CIA Director Micheal Hayden can be found on in the Oct 22, 2007 show. Much more enlightening than anything ever reported by CNN on the topic.

    About 19 minutes in he says the rate of renditions is lower now than it was in the 90s. Too bad Charlie didn't follow up or things might have gotten really interesting. Democrats might want to find out what was done under the Clinton administration because we know that is how Democrats decide right from wrong.

    November 7, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  14. Steve, Landing, NJ

    Jay in Kenosha–

    You're trying to say that *Democrats* judge right and wrong by the Clintons? That's just blind. The instances of a Dem saying "well, if Bill Clinton did it, it must be okay" are virtually nonexistant comapred to the babbling chorus of Republican hypocrites screaming that anything Bill Clinton does is an outrage, even when it's exactly the same as what Republicans do.

    November 9, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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