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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 07/29/2009

To Investigate, or not Investigate

Public interest in a look-back at the Bush administration's treatment of terrorism suspects has waned, but there is now majority support for investigations into the possibility the CIA withheld required information from Congress, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Most Americans, 54 percent, say the new administration should not investigate potential illegality in the way those implicated in terrorism cases were handled; 44 percent say it should. That's a change from a near even divide on the question in polls taken in January and April.

Over the past few months, Republicans have solidified in opposition to such a probe: 84 percent are against one, up from 69 percent at the beginning of the year. Independents, too, are broadly opposed to the idea (57 percent against, 42 percent for), while Democrats are as unified behind the idea (67 percent in favor) as they have been all year.

The public tips the other way, however, on the newer controversy over whether the Central Intelligence Agency failed to brief Congress on programs it is mandated to disclose. In the new poll, 54 percent say the Obama administration should investigate whether the CIA withheld such information; 43 percent say it should not.

Most Democrats (71 percent) and a slim majority of independents (52 percent) are behind an investigation into this potential slipup by the CIA, whereas most Republicans (65 percent) are against it.

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Q. Do you think the Obama administration should or should not investigate...

...whether any laws were broken in the way terrorism suspects were treated under the Bush administration?

...whether the CIA withheld required information from Congress during the Bush administration?

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 07/29/2009

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