The Pew Research Center has one of the longest trends on the issue. In its 2004 question, 15 percent said the “use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information” could often be justified, 28 percent sometimes, 21 percent rarely, and 32 percent never justified. The organization has asked the question nine times since then, and in the latest asking from 2011, 19 percent responded “often,” 34 percent “sometimes,” 18 percent “rarely,” and 24 percent “never.” The responses show that between 24 and 32 percent say it should never been used, while at the other end of the spectrum, 12 to 19 percent say it can often be justified to gain information. Most people put themselves in the middle. Responses to a similar question asked five times between 2009 and 2013 by AP/GfK and National Opinion Research Center (NORC) pollsters are in line with Pew’s. In Pew’s latest, there are large partisan differences in responses, but small differences by age.
A question posed three times during Obama’s presidency by ABC News and the Washington Post asked people whether they supported the Obama administration policy not to use torture as part of a campaign against terrorism. Initially in January 2009, 58 percent supported it while 40 percent said there were cases where the US should consider torture against terrorism suspects. The last time the pollsters asked the question, the responses were 50 and 46 percent, respectively. Opinion has also become more opposed to closing Guantanamo Bay prisoner facility since the start of the Obama presidency. In a new Fox News poll of registered voters asked before the Intelligence Committee’s report was released, 56 percent said it should be kept open.