Torture and terror: two great tastes...
The Associated Press released a poll yesterday which finds that a whopping 61% of Americans approve of torture tactics when it comes to the war on terror. I was shocked by that number... Melanie Colburn over at MoJo points out an ABC poll last year that shows only 35% approved of torture. Both numbers reflect statements (as least as presented in the articles) that people approve of torture "when other methods fail and authorities believe the suspect has information that could prevent terrorist attacks."
What's not covered in this year's story is what tactics people have problems with. Physical abuse and sexual humiliation in last year's poll dropped the approval rates even lower; psychological torture (loud noises, sleep deprivation, etc.) were deemed OK by 42% of the respondents.
This year's coverage of people's feelings on when torture should be used rallies around the fact that it's not just us Americans that dig it -- we're consoling ourselves as a nation now that the majority of our friends in the UK, France and South Korea think it's a good idea to use torture to prevent terrorism. Here's an interesting twist from CNN's coverage, though:
About two-thirds of the people living in Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Spain say they would oppose allowing the U.S. to secretly interrogate terror suspects in their countries. And almost that many in Britain, France, Germany and Italy said they feel the same way. Almost two-thirds in the United States support such interrogations in the U.S. by their own government.
Hmmmm... a little NIMBY sentiment?
More likely is that we have a problem of framing, and what's being covered. Something tells me the questions were asked in a way that doesn't allow much room for wiggle, a la, "if you're not with us, you're against us." If you ask someone, "When is torture acceptable?," you're making the assumption already that it IS acceptable at SOME point in an interrogation. Wrong frame.
Then there's the framing of the reporting itself: look at the Google News list of related stories, and how each of them are being covered wildly differently -- very cup-half-full, cup-half-empty.