Americans are split on whether overseeing torture should disqualify Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next CIA director, from getting the job, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.
Few Americans have been paying much attention to the brewing Senate fight over Haspel’s confirmation: Only 15 percent say they’ve heard a lot about her in the news, and barely more than half that they’ve heard anything at all.
Told that Haspel reportedly supervised a “black site” where CIA personnel tortured suspected terrorists to gain information, 20 percent say they consider that to be a good thing and 39 percent view it as a bad thing.
Just under a third consider that record sufficient reason for her not to be confirmed to head the CIA, while 36 percent say it is not.
Those polled appear more troubled by reports that Haspel also helped to destroy videotapes documenting the torture of detainees. By a 2-to-1 margin, 44 percent to 22 percent, they say those actions should disqualify her from becoming the CIA’s director.
Opinions are sharply politicized ― most Hillary Clinton voters say that both supervising a black site and destroying tapes should be disqualifying, and a majority of Trump voters say that neither should be.
The American public also remains divided about the acceptability of torture as part of the nation’s anti-terrorism efforts, with a significant share unsure of their stance on the subject.
Americans are about evenly split on whether torture is ever acceptable in the fight against terrorism, with 36 percent saying that it is, and 37 percent that it is not. But they say, 43 percent to 26 percent, that it’s possible to fight terrorism without the use of torture.
Just a quarter say information gained from the use of torture against suspected terrorists is mostly reliable, with a third considering it unreliable and the remaining 42 percent unsure.
The public broadly believes waterboarding detainees to be a form of torture. Twenty-seven percent consider its use acceptable, with 44 percent saying it’s unacceptable and the remainder undecided.
The views expressed in the most recent poll show little evidence of any significant shift since 2014 when Americans said, 47 percent to 30 percent, that fighting terrorism without torture was possible and were about evenly split on whether information gleaned from its use was reliable.
Opinions on torture remain starkly divided along political lines, with Clinton voters more than five times likelier than Trump voters to say torture is never acceptable.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 20-22 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project andtake part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are availablehere.
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