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US: Americans favour probe of 'war on terror' excesses

13 Feb 2009 3:50 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 AFP - Two-thirds of Americans favour investigating whether the George W Bush administration overstepped legal boundaries in its "war on terror," according to a poll released on 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 per cent) favoured criminal investigations, while about a quarter (24 per cent) wanted an investigation without criminal charges being filed.

Some one-third of those polled (34 per cent) wanted 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 politicians "to fully investigate the US government's abuses in the war on terror and hold accountable those responsible".

"The human rights organisation 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 per cent sampling error.