Americans’ opposition to torture has softened in the last decade

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     Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tortured in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, welcomed and endorsed the release of a report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tortured in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, welcomed and endorsed the release of a report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    The U.S. Senate released its report on torture this week to a great deal of visibility and reaction. There’s no new polling research, but Frank Newport, editor in chief at the Gallup Poll, helps us review of Americans’ attitudes about torture since 9/11. There have been some very mixed reactions since 2001.

    In the first few years after the terrorist atacks, there was a largely negative reaction to torture. As time progressed through 2009 and 2011, more Americans began to soften on the issue. In general, Americans are opposed to torture, but recently more have begun to admit that they think there may be occasions when it’s justified.

    It’s been more than two weeks now since President Obama announced his executive actions on immigration. One immediate effect is very apparent. The president’s job approval rating among Hispanics, which had been dropping, has now risen substantially — at one point reaching one of its highest levels in years.

    One impact of stopping the potential deportation of millions of undocumented Hispanics in this country could be economic. Hispanics skew much younger than the U.S. population as a whole, and thus are much more likely to have children under 18. In fact 50 percent of Hispanic adults have children. This makes them potent consumers, because they spend more on average than other Americans.

    Protests are continuing this week following the police actions resulting in deaths of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. A new analysis of nine years’ worth of data on confidence in police shows a notable difference between blacks who live in urban areas and those who do not — suggesting particular problems with blacks’ perception of the police in big cities.

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