CBS Claims Americans 'Divided' Over CIA Interrogations, But Only 36% Oppose

On Monday's CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King claimed that Americans were "divided" over the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques after September 11th. However, the latest CBS News poll she cited "shows that 49% of Americans feel aggressive interrogation techniques like waterboarding are sometimes justified. 36% say they are never justified." The remaining 14% said that it "depends" or "didn't know."

Fellow co-host Norah O'Donnell followed up with another poll result: "Meanwhile 52% believe the release of that Senate report could pose a threat to U.S. security."

The poll numbers were used to introduce a report on former Vice President Dick Cheney strongly defending the interrogation program during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. Correspondent Bill Plante declared: "The Vice President, former Vice President, has been the most ardent defender of the tactics used by the CIA to interrogate suspected terrorists and in a combative interview Sunday, Cheney once again dismissed claims by Senate Democrats that what the agency did was tantamount to torture."

Monday's NBC Today also covered the Cheney interview, with co-host Savannah Guhtrie teeing up the report on the topic: "And now to that ongoing fallout over the controversial Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques used on terror suspects post-9/11. Should people who were involved in that program face criminal charges?"

Correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "Well, early on, President Obama and his attorney general ruled out prosecutions, although they're under some pressure to change that now, even though the CIA director now has acknowledged some wrongdoing."

According to the CBS poll, there does not appear to be much public "pressure" to prosecute anyone involved in the CIA interrogations. Mitchell seemed to be referring to the President's left-wing base.

Discussing Cheney's exchange with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, Mitchell announced: "A combative Dick Cheney denounced the Senate report as unfair to the CIA and damaging to America's standing in the world....Cheney did not back down when Chuck Todd cited examples where interrogators went beyond the rules."

A long clip played of Todd reciting some of the specific tactics and grilling Cheney on whether they constituted "torture."

Mitchell concluded the segment by lamenting: "The debate is not going away, but unlike previous investigations of the intelligence agencies, it is for the most part divided along partisan lines, which will not make it easy to agree on any reforms that might be needed."

Here are full transcripts of the December 15 This Morning and Today reports:

CBS This Morning
7:09 AM ET

GAYLE KING: A CBS News poll out this morning shows Americans are divided over the CIA tactics exposed in a Senate report. The poll shows that 49% of Americans feel aggressive interrogation techniques like waterboarding are sometimes justified. 36% say they are never justified.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Meanwhile 52% believe the release of that Senate report could pose a threat to U.S. security. On Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he regrets nothing the CIA did after 9/11. Bill Plante is at the White House with Cheney's newest criticism of the report. Bill good morning.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning. The vice president, former vice president, has been the most ardent defender of the tactics used by the CIA to interrogate suspected terrorists and in a combative interview Sunday, Cheney once again dismissed claims by Senate Democrats that what the agency did was tantamount to torture.

DICK CHENEY: Torture was what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

PLANTE: The former vice president offered a passionate defense of the CIA’s methods and results, saying the agency should be praised and the agents decorated.

CHENEY: We’ve avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States. We did capture Bin Laden, we did capture an awful lot of the senior guys of Al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I'd do it again in a minute.

PLANTE: And he rejected not only the conclusions drawn in the report but also Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein's characteristic of it.

CHENEY: It's a crock. It's not true. We were very careful to stop short of torture. The Senate has seen fit to label their report torture but we worked hard to stay short of that.

PLANTE: Cheney would also make no apology for the finding that 25% of the prisoners subjected to harsh interrogation tactics were wrongfully detained.

CHENEY: I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out released than I am with a few that in fact were innocent.

PLANTE: Republican Senator John McCain who was captured and tortured during the Vietnam War supported the report's release.

JOHN MCCAIN: That's what America is all about. We do things wrong, we make mistakes, we review those, and we vow never to do them again.

PLANTE: And McCain pushed back against the notion that these actions were justified.  

MCCAIN: There were violations to the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners. There were violations of the Convention Against Torture. You can't claim that tying someone to the floor and have them freeze to death is not torture.

PLANTE: Cheney also took issue with the report's claim that President Bush wasn't fully briefed on interrogation tactics until 2006. He called that a lie. He said that Bush was fully supportive of everything the CIA did. Charlie?

CHARLIE ROSE: Bill, thanks.


Today
7:08 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And now to that ongoing fallout over the controversial Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques used on terror suspects post-9/11. Should people who were involved in that program face criminal charges? NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell's been following this story. Andrea, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Cheney vs. McCain on Torture Report; GOP Heavyweights Clash Over CIA Tactics]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Savannah. Well, early on, President Obama and his attorney general ruled out prosecutions, although they're under some pressure to change that now, even though the CIA director now has acknowledged some wrongdoing. But former Vice President Dick Cheney, who helped create the program after 9/11, went on Meet the Press to lead a vigorous defense of the Agency.

CHUCK TODD: It's all CIA documentation.

MITCHELL: A combative Dick Cheney denounced the Senate report as unfair to the CIA and damaging to America's standing in the world.

DICK CHENEY: The report is seriously flawed. They didn't talk to anybody who knew anything about the program.

CHUCK TODD: Does it plant any seed of doubt in you, though?

CHENEY: No.

TODD: No seed of doubt at all?

CHENEY: Absolutely not.

TODD: All of this information in here, no seed of doubt whether this worked or not?

CHENEY: It worked. It absolutely did work.

MITCHELL: Disagreeing strongly, Senator John McCain, himself tortured as a Vietnam POW.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I urge everyone to just read the report. These are the communications within the CIA as to what happened. You can't claim that tying someone to the floor and have them freeze to death is not torture.

MITCHELL: Cheney did not back down when Chuck Todd cited examples where interrogators went beyond the rules.

TODD: Majid Kahn was then suspected of – was subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration.

CHENEY: That does not meet the definition of what was used in the program.

TODD: I understand that, but does that meet the definition of torture in your mind?

CHENEY: In my mind, I've told you what meets the definition of torture. It's what nineteen guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

TODD: Let me go to Gul Rahman, he was chained to the wall of a cell, doused with water, froze to death in CIA custody. And it turned out it was a case of mistaken identity.

CHENEY: Right. But the problem I have is with all the folks that we did release that ended up back on the battlefield.

MITCHELL The debate is not going away, but unlike previous investigations of the intelligence agencies, it is for the most part divided along partisan lines, which will not make it easy to agree on any reforms that might be needed. Savannah and Willie.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Andrea, thank you very much.

Polling Interrogation Techniques War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Video Gayle King Norah O'Donnell Savannah Guthrie Andrea Mitchell

Sponsored Links