Thursday, February 12, 2009

Americans Favor Probe of 'War on Terror' Excesses

by Agence France Presse

WASHINGTON - Two-thirds of Americans favor investigating whether the George W. Bush administration overstepped legal boundaries in its "war on terror," according to a poll released Thursday by USA Today and Gallup.

A majority of respondents said a probe should be launched into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terror suspects.

Investigators also should look into the former president's program of wiretapping US citizens without first securing court-issued warrants, respondents said.

About four respondents in 10 polled by USA Today (38 percent) favored criminal investigations, while about a quarter (24 percent) said they want an investigation without criminal charges being filed.

Some one-third of those polled (34 percent) said they want nothing done at all, the pollsters said.

The survey comes as the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups press for formal inquiries into whether the Bush administration flouted US and international laws banning torture and the constitutional right to privacy.

The group said in a statement that it plans to mount a campaign next week urging the public to press lawmakers "to fully investigate the US government?s abuses in the war on terror and hold accountable those responsible."

"The human rights organization is calling on President Barack Obama and the US Congress to create an independent and impartial commission to examine the use of torture, indefinite detention, secret renditions and other illegal US counterterrorism policies," the Amnesty statement added.

Two leading Democrats, House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy has proposed commissions to investigate possible Bush administration violations.

Bush's successor President Barack Obama, at a press conference this week expressed reticence about a probe, saying it was time to move forward.

But he did not rule out possible prosecutions, adding "my view is also that nobody is above the law. And if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen." And he said he would look at Leahy's proposals.

The telephone survey of 1,027 adults, taken between January 30 and February 1, had a plus or minus three percent sampling error.

© 2009 AFP

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