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U.S. Public Opinion on Torture, 2001–2009

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 June 2010

Paul Gronke
Reed College
Darius Rejali
Reed College
Dustin Drenguis
Reed College
James Hicks
Reed College
Peter Miller
University of California, Irvine
Bryan Nakayama
Reed College


Many journalists and politicians believe that during the Bush administration, a majority of Americans supported torture if they were assured that it would prevent a terrorist attack. As Mark Danner wrote in the April 2009 New York Review of Books, “Polls tend to show that a majority of Americans are willing to support torture only when they are assured that it will ‘thwart a terrorist attack.’” This view was repeated frequently in both left- and right-leaning articles and blogs, as well as in European papers (Sharrock 2008; Judd 2008; Koppelman 2009; Liberation 2008). There was a consensus, in other words, that throughout the years of the Bush administration, public opinion surveys tended to show a pro-torture American majority.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2010

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