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Most Americans support torture against terror suspects

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a level of support similar to that seen in countries like Nigeria where militant attacks are common.

The poll reflects a U.S. public on edge after the massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino in December and large-scale attacks in Europe in recent months, including a bombing claimed by the militant group Islamic State last week that killed at least 32 people in Belgium.

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Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has forcefully injected the issue of whether terrorism suspects should be tortured into the election campaign.

Trump has said he would seek to roll back President Barack Obama’s ban on waterboarding – an interrogation technique that simulates drowning that human rights groups contend is illegal under the Geneva Conventions. Trump has also vowed to “bring back a hell of a lot worse” if elected.

Trump’s stance has drawn broad criticism from human rights organizations, world bodies, and political rivals. But the poll findings suggest that many Americans are aligned with Trump on the issue, although the survey did not ask respondents to define what they consider torture.

“The public right now is coping with a host of negative emotions,” said Elizabeth Zechmeister, a Vanderbilt University professor who has studied the link between terrorist threats and public opinion. “Fear, anger, general anxiety: (Trump) gives a certain credibility to these feelings,” she said.

The March 22-28 online poll asked respondents if torture can be justified “against suspected terrorists to obtain information about terrorism.” About 25 percent said it is “often” justified while another 38 percent it is “sometimes” justified. Only 15 percent said torture should never be used.

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Republicans were more accepting of torture to elicit information than Democrats: 82 percent of Republicans said torture is “often” or “sometimes” justified, compared with 53 percent of Democrats. (Graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/1ShObx1)

About two-thirds of respondents also said they expected a terrorist attack on U.S. soil within the next six months.

TERRORISM TOP CONCERN

Surveys by other polling agencies in recent years have shown U.S. support for the use of torture at around 50 percent. A 2014 survey by Amnesty International, for example, put American support for torture at about 45 percent, compared with 64 percent in Nigeria, 66 percent in Kenya and 74 percent in India.

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Nigeria is battling a seven-year-old insurgency that has displaced 2 million people and killed thousands, while al Shabaab militants have launched a series of deadly attacks in Kenya. India is fighting a years-old Maoist insurgency that has killed hundreds.

In November, terrorism replaced economy as the top concern for many Americans in Reuters/Ipsos polling, shortly after militants affiliated with the Islamic State killed 130 people in Paris.

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At the same time, Trump surged in popularity among Republicans, who viewed him as the strongest candidate to deal with terrorism. Besides his advocacy of waterboarding, Trump said that he would “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” using an alternative acronym for Islamic State.

“You’re dealing with people who don’t play by any rules. And I can’t see why we would tie our hands and take away options like waterboarding,” said Jo Ann Tieken, 71, a Trump supporter.

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Tieken said her views had been influenced by the injuries suffered by her two step-grandsons while serving in the military four years ago in Afghanistan.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll included 1,976 people. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 2.5 percentage points for the entire group and about 4 percentage points for both Democrats and Republicans. (Graphic: http://reut.rs/1Rp3x6C)

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Ross Colvin)


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‘Angry’ Trump Michigan voters admit they want ‘this nightmare to end’ in November

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President Donald Trump's Michigan supporters are abandoning their 2016 pick for Vice President Joe Biden as the election comes closer.

In a series of interviews on MSNBC Sunday, revisited voters they'd met earlier in the election cycle in Kent County.

Katey Morse and her husband were both working full time, and their kids were in school back in March, but things quickly changed as the coronavirus spread throughout the country. Luckily, she and her husband didn't lose their jobs, but they, like many parents, are struggling to do virtual school for their kids.

"I'm turning into more of an angry person than I've ever been in my life," she said about how she feels politically, noting that it makes her sad. "I've just got a countdown to November now, and I'm hoping we'll wake up from this nightmare we're in."

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Trump abusing the intelligence community in an attempt to keep them quiet about Russia election hacks: Conservative

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2020 Election

‘Incompetent moron’ Chuck Todd ripped for letting Trump official claim Democrats want more COVID-19 deaths

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"Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd is under fire -- once again -- after letting Donald Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro claim on NBC that Democrats want more Americans to die during the coronavirus pandemic to boost their chances at the polls in November.

Instead of pushing back the NBC host known for his lack of follow-up questions let the comment slide by responding, "I take your point."

Todd's failure to call out the Trump aide for what one Twitter commenter called a "disgusting" comment led to an avalanche of criticism for the MBC political director who recently saw his weekday show cut back to make room for more commentary by colleague Nicolle Wallace.

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