Most Oppose Terror Probe, with Sharp Partisan Rift

Jul 29, 2009 12:00pm

Most Americans now oppose an Obama administration investigation into the treatment of terrorism suspects during the Bush presidency, with an increasing partisan rift – a cautionary note for the probe Attorney General Eric Holder’s said to be considering.

Fifty-four percent in the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose such an investigation, up from 47 percent in April, with a 13-point boost in opposition from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Seventy-nine percent in that group oppose the idea, now surpassing its support among leaned Democrats, 63 percent.

		 Investigate treatment of 			 terrorism suspects?				 Yes-No			  Now    AprilAll		  44-54%  51-47%Leaned Dems  63-35   66-32Leaned Reps  19-79   32-66

Holder was reported earlier this month to be considering whether to appoint a special prosecutor to review the Bush administration’s policy on interrogating suspected terrorists; some other administration officials are said to oppose it, citing its divisive nature. ABC’s Senior Justice Correspondent, Pierre Thomas, has an exclusive interview with the attorney general today, airing on ABC’s World News and Nightline tonight and tomorrow’s Good Morning America.

While most now oppose an investigation of the treatment of terrorism suspects, the numbers are reversed on another sort of inquiry – into the question of whether the CIA withheld required information from Congress during the Bush years; 54 percent favor an examination of that issue, with 43 percent opposed. This gets substantially more support from leaned Republicans, 32 percent, than does a torture investigation, 19 percent; it also does a bit better with Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, with 70 percent in favor.

	    Investigate CIA disclosure			   to Congress?			    Yes-NoAll			 54-43%Leaned Dems	 70-27Leaned Reps	 32-67

The nature of the two proposals could be at play – an Obama administration investigation of Bush administration policies may sound more overtly partisan; an investigation of the CIA’s truthfulness with Congress, less so. Certainly, on both questions – especially the former – partisan preferences are by far the strongest predictor of public attitudes.

Click here for a PDF with the full questionnaire.

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