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October 17, 2002, press release on September-October 2002 Poll

May 1, 2003, press release on April 2003 Poll

November 23, 2003 press release on November 2003 poll

May 11, 2004 press release and articles on April 2004 poll

October 6, 2004 press release on September 2004 Poll

April 2005 Poll

Retro Poll's findings on whether Americans
agree with each other on the use of torture.

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2005

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

(500 words)

New findings from Retro Poll:

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 torture is being systematically employed by their government. 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 a 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%. (end)

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