Americans Are More Pro-Torture Now than They Were Under Bush

Remember the George W. Bush years? They almost seem like a bad dream, don't they? Years of terror, and militarism, and war, and unaccountability, and even, perhaps most repugnant, years of torture of foreign prisoners by we, the Americans, the beacons of freedom. Well, the Bush years have thankfully passed. And now, Americans like torture even more.

A Stanford professor named Amy Zegart had a polling firm conduct a nationwide poll about Americans' attitudes towards terrorism and torture. In many cases, she used the exact same questions from a similar poll that had been conducted in 2005, when Bush was president. Among the findings:

  • 41% of Americans said they'd be willing to use torture on prisoners captured in the "war on terror." 34% said they would not. In 2007, only 27% said they would, and 53% said they would not.
  • 30% today sayd that the "naked chaining" technique for prisoners was okay; in a 2005 poll, only 18% said it was okay.
  • 25% today say waterboarding is okay. In 2005, it was 16%.
  • Only 12% of Americans now say they are "unwilling" to assassinate known terrorists; in 2005, that was 33%.
  • And, in both 2005 and 2012, more than a third of Americans are "willing to kill foreign leaders who 'harbor terrorists.'" Which is why you better not put more than a third of Americans in charge of anything
Congrats, Obama: after four years of you, lots of liberals have come around on the idea of torture. Now that's progress.

[Foreign Policy via Center for Investigative Reporting. Photo: AP]