Majority of Americans Believe CIA's Harsh Interrogation Tactics Were Acceptable

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The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, December 11, 2014.   The head of the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged Thursday some agency interrogators used "abhorrent" unauthorized techniques in questioning terrorism suspects after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director John Brennan said there was no way to determine whether the methods used produced useful intelligence, but he strongly denied the CIA misled the public. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
The lectern stands empty as reporters await the arrival of Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan for a press conference at CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, December 11, 2014. The head of the Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged Thursday some agency interrogators used "abhorrent" unauthorized techniques in questioning terrorism suspects after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director John Brennan said there was no way to determine whether the methods used produced useful intelligence, but he strongly denied the CIA misled the public. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty ImagesJIM WATSON / AFP - Getty Images

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A majority of Americans believe the harsh interrogation practices the Central Intelligence Agency used after the 9/11 terrorist attacks were acceptable under the circumstances, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

And a plurality say they'd be acceptable to use in the future to thwart potential terrorist threats.

In the poll, 51 percent say the interrogation practices used during the Bush Era were acceptable, while 28 percent say they went too far and were wrong.

In addition, 45 percent think they should be used in the future, versus 28 percent who disagree.

These numbers come after the Democratic-led Senate Intelligence Committee released a report detailing the harsh interrogation practices, and after Republicans defended them.

"I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States," former Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" last Sunday. "I'd do it again in a minute.”

The numbers confirm other polling on the subject, and they reveal a partisan split.

Republicans (by an 80 percent-to-9 percent margin) overwhelmingly say the practices were acceptable, and so do political independents (44 percent to 24 percent).

But Democrats say they went too far (44 percent to 32 percent).

The rest of the NBC/WSJ poll -- which was conducted Dec. 10-14 -- will be released on Wednesday morning.

The margin of error for these two sets of questions is plus-minus 4.4 percentage points.

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