Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Six in 10 Americans say the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists was justified, more than half think it produced important, unique intelligence — and 52 percent say it was wrong for the Senate Intelligence Committee to issue a report suggesting otherwise.

Those results in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll underscore the public’s sense of risk from the threat of terrorism, and specifically the extent to which majorities support controversial measures to combat it. Indeed just two in 10 flatly rule out torture in future cases.

[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

A plurality, 49 percent, believes the CIA did in fact torture suspected terrorists; 38 percent think its actions did not amount to torture, with the rest unsure. Regardless, the public by a broad 59-31 percent also says the agency’s interrogation actions were justified.

One reason is that 53 percent think these interrogations produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way. Just 31 percent reject this claim, a focus of the recent debate.

It’s a critical point: Among those who think the CIA interrogations produced unique information, 85 percent say its treatment of suspected terrorists was justified. That drops precipitously, to 28 percent, among those who say the approach did not produce important information.

Other results in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, show substantial misgivings about the Senate committee’s report:

  • Americans by an 11-point margin, 47-36 percent, are more apt to see it as unfair rather than fair in its description of what occurred.
  • The public by 52-43 percent feels more that it was wrong to release the report because it may raise the risk of terrorism by stirring anti-American sentiment — as critics say — than right to release the report in order to expose what happened and prevent a recurrence.
  • Additionally, Americans by 57-34 percent oppose criminal charges against officials who were responsible for the agency’s interrogation activities.

A majority does accept one of the committee’s key criticisms: Fifty-four percent think the CIA did in fact mislead the White House, Congress and the public about its activities. At the same time, four in 10 of them also say the agency was justified in doing so. A net total of just 33 percent think both that the CIA misled, and did so without justification.

Another result also indicates a source of support for the CIA: the fact that, looking ahead, most Americans are unwilling to rule out torture of suspected terrorists. Fifty-eight percent say it can sometimes or even often be justified. Nineteen percent say it can be justified, albeit just rarely, while 20 percent rule it out entirely.

DOES IT WORK? – Many views on the issue are informed by judgments of whether the agency’s interrogation techniques in fact work. It’s a key point because past research also has shown the extent to which many Americans, in a time of threat, place a priority on security over other rights.

As noted, people who think these interrogations produced unique intelligence are far more likely than others to see the CIA’s actions as justified. They’re also far more apt to think future torture can be justified, to oppose criminal charges and to oppose the release of the committee report.

Views of whether or not the CIA’s actions produced important information, in turn, are influenced to some extent by political and partisan predispositions. Seventy percent of Republicans and 68 percent of conservatives think important information was gained. So do smaller majorities of independents and moderates, 53 and 51 percent, respectively. Among Democrats and liberals, 40 and 35 percent, respectively, think useful information resulted.

GROUPS –
There are similar divisions on other issues. At the high end of support for the agency, 82 percent of conservative Republicans say the CIA’s actions were justified — and just 30 percent think the interrogation techniques amounted to torture. Across the political and ideological spectrum, among liberal Democrats, 38 percent think the CIA actions were justified, and 73 percent see them as torture. There also are large partisan and ideological gaps in views of the committee’s report.

Among other groups, seeing the CIA’s actions as justified rises with age (from 50 percent among under 30s to 66 percent of seniors), declines with education, and is nearly 20 percentage points higher among whites than nonwhites. More-educated adults are much more apt than those with less education to classify the CIA’s activities as torture.

Criminal charges, for their part, are supported by two-thirds of those who think the CIA misled the White House, Congress and public without justification; two-thirds of those who think the treatment of prisoners was unjustified; and six in 10 of those who think the actions did not produce important information. But those are minorities in each case — and by contrast, even among those who see the actions as torture, fewer than half support bringing charges against those responsible.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 11-14, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama spoke on Monday from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, thanking troops stationed there for their service.

“Whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, white, black, brown, rich, poor, no matter how we pray, no matter who we love,” Obama said, “when it comes to our troops, when it comes to you and your families as Americans, we stand united.” Obama told the troops that their fellow Americans, “are proud of you. We support you. And we can never thank you enough.”

The commander in chief also spoke of the drawdown in Afghanistan, promising victory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “I want you and every American who has served in Afghanistan to be proud of what you’ve accomplished there,” Obama told the troops. “Your generation, the 9/11 generation, has met every mission that’s been given to you.”

His words came three days after two more Americans — Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris, 37, of New York, New York, and Spc. Wyatt J. Martin, 22, of Mesa, Arizona — were killed in Afghanistan when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb near the largest U.S. military base in the country.

On ISIS, Obama claimed that U.S. forces, “have blunted their momentum, and we have put them on the defensive.” Alluding to the fight against al-Qaeda, Obama said that ISIS militants, “are learning the same thing that the leaders of al-Qaeda have learned the hard way.”

“They may think that they can chalk up some quick victories, but our reach is long,” Obama said. “We do not give up. You threaten America, you will have no safe haven. We will find you, and like petty tyrants and terrorists before you, the world is going to leave you behind and keep moving on without you, because we will get you.”

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Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Senate confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy to be the next surgeon general Monday.

By a 51-43 vote, Murthy, a physician in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was confirmed on Monday. The White House had been forced to pull his nomination last spring when the National Rifle Association expressed opposition to his support of gun control. The NRA also opposed Murthy’s statements that gun violence is a public health concern.

Murthy was also criticized by some Republicans for co-founding a political group that advocated for the Affordable Care Act.

The vacancy in the surgeon general position had become more notable in recent months as concerns about Ebola in the U.S. grew.

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SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Jeb Bush gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina this afternoon and decided to take his mother’s advice, getting some laughs from the audience of graduates and families.

“As I was preparing my remarks I asked the chief adviser of all important things in the Bush family, Barbara Bush, what I should speak about and she thought about it briefly and said, ‘Jeb, speak about ten minutes and shut up,’” Bush said.

Bush, who is the focus of buzz and speculation about a potential 2016 run for the White House, didn’t mention his political future, but gave graduates three pieces of advice.

“Dream big, don’t be afraid of change and find joy everywhere you can,” Bush told the attendees.

He cautioned the possibly nervous graduates that once they leave school “every day is an exam, every day you will get graded.”

Bush’s speech in South Carolina, the first state in the South to vote in the country’s primary process, comes just a day after he told ABC’s Miami affiliate WPLG he would not only release an e-book, but also 250,000 of his emails from his time in office. It’s the clearest sign yet he is moving towards a possible run, a decision he said in the interview he would make “in short order.” He noted in the interview he “would be a good president.” Today was Bush’s second visit to the important early voting state in three months.

The email release is also being seen as a move towards transparency and one that his potential rivals might be pushed to match.

The former Florida governor made no other stops in the state, including no political events, besides meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, according to a Bush aide. The staffer said Haley and Bush know each other well and his education foundation has supported Haley’s work on education reform in South Carolina.

Bush’s work on education would likely be a focus of any presidential campaign, but his support for Common Core initiatives have angered more conservative members of the Republican Party, a group that tends to have outsize influence in some state primaries, including South Carolina’s.

Bush told the graduates in Columbia, South Carolina, that his three pieces of advice are ones he learned “along life’s journey” and they “may relieve some of that anxiety and worry if you have it,” adding they are lessons “you can apply in any situation whether you decide to run a statehouse, a classroom, or a lemonade stand.”

He noted after his first lesson “dream big” that children often “model their lives on their parents.” But, he said, “I can tell you from personal experience, if your parents worked in politics, well you know the rest,” he said to laughs, before urging the crowd to break out of that pattern. “You don’t need to follow the pattern, you can do what you want to do. In fact, life is a lot better if you find your own reasons to do your own things.”

He urged the graduates not to be afraid of change and experimentation and “even fail because it’s part of life, it will definitely be part of yours.”

And in rounding out his important three, he mentioned his 90-year-old father, former President George H.W. Bush, as someone who consistently has fun, even when facing adversity.

“No matter how many challenges you face, no matter how old you get, remember to have fun and laugh,” Bush said. “Be like my dad who turned 90 years old this year. Here is a guy who lived a full and active life,” noting his father gets joy in everything from “wearing funny and colorful socks or for some strange reason jumping out of perfectly good airplanes even at the age of 90.”

Bush said it’s for these reasons his father is his “favorite person in the world, of all time.”

“Life isn’t always about the happy moments, everyone faces adversity eventually,” he said. “But those things we can’t control, we can control how we react. If you are able to find joy in life wherever you can I can promise you this joy will find you.”

In exchange for his advice he asked the graduates to “give back to your communities,” urging them to be mentors or otherwise contribute to those who need it most.

The university gave Bush an honorary doctoral degree of public service at the ceremony to which he quipped about his wife, “I can’t wait to get home and tell Columba I’m a doctor now, this is huge.”

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SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Jeb Bush gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina this afternoon and decided to take his mother’s advice, getting some laughs from the audience of graduates and families.

“As I was preparing my remarks I asked the chief adviser of all important things in the Bush family, Barbara Bush, what I should speak about and she thought about it briefly and said, ‘Jeb, speak about ten minutes and shut up,’” Bush said.

Bush, who is the focus of buzz and speculation about a potential 2016 run for the White House, didn’t mention his political future, but gave graduates three pieces of advice.

“Dream big, don’t be afraid of change and find joy everywhere you can,” Bush told the attendees.

He cautioned the possibly nervous graduates that once they leave school “every day is an exam, every day you will get graded.”

Bush’s speech in South Carolina, the first state in the South to vote in the country’s primary process, comes just a day after he told ABC’s Miami affiliate WPLG he would not only release an e-book, but also 250,000 of his emails from his time in office. It’s the clearest sign yet he is moving towards a possible run, a decision he said in the interview he would make “in short order.” He noted in the interview he “would be a good president.” Today was Bush’s second visit to the important early voting state in three months.

The email release is also being seen as a move towards transparency and one that his potential rivals might be pushed to match.

The former Florida governor made no other stops in the state, including no political events, besides meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, according to a Bush aide. The staffer said Haley and Bush know each other well and his education foundation has supported Haley’s work on education reform in South Carolina.

Bush’s work on education would likely be a focus of any presidential campaign, but his support for Common Core initiatives have angered more conservative members of the Republican Party, a group that tends to have outsize influence in some state primaries, including South Carolina’s.

Bush told the graduates in Columbia, South Carolina, that his three pieces of advice are ones he learned “along life’s journey” and they “may relieve some of that anxiety and worry if you have it,” adding they are lessons “you can apply in any situation whether you decide to run a statehouse, a classroom, or a lemonade stand.”

He noted after his first lesson “dream big” that children often “model their lives on their parents.” But, he said, “I can tell you from personal experience, if your parents worked in politics, well you know the rest,” he said to laughs, before urging the crowd to break out of that pattern. “You don’t need to follow the pattern, you can do what you want to do. In fact, life is a lot better if you find your own reasons to do your own things.”

He urged the graduates not to be afraid of change and experimentation and “even fail because it’s part of life, it will definitely be part of yours.”

And in rounding out his important three, he mentioned his 90-year-old father, former President George H.W. Bush, as someone who consistently has fun, even when facing adversity.

“No matter how many challenges you face, no matter how old you get, remember to have fun and laugh,” Bush said. “Be like my dad who turned 90 years old this year. Here is a guy who lived a full and active life,” noting his father gets joy in everything from “wearing funny and colorful socks or for some strange reason jumping out of perfectly good airplanes even at the age of 90.”

Bush said it’s for these reasons his father is his “favorite person in the world, of all time.”

“Life isn’t always about the happy moments, everyone faces adversity eventually,” he said. “But those things we can’t control, we can control how we react. If you are able to find joy in life wherever you can I can promise you this joy will find you.”

In exchange for his advice he asked the graduates to “give back to your communities,” urging them to be mentors or otherwise contribute to those who need it most.

The university gave Bush an honorary doctoral degree of public service at the ceremony to which he quipped about his wife, “I can’t wait to get home and tell Columba I’m a doctor now, this is huge.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — One item left on the Senate’s to-do list this week is passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which expires at the end of this year, raising questions about the fate of some professional sporting events.

The bill, also known as TRIA, was first enacted following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011 as a way for the federal government to help insurance companies cover American businesses in the wake of a terrorist attack. Some of the businesses aided by TRIA include professional sports organizations, like the National Football League, which need to have coverage for the stadiums and arenas their players and spectators use.

The debate over TRIA has even spurred rumors that the NFL might be forced to cancel the Super Bowl, one of the most popular sporting events of the year, if the legislation isn’t renewed. The NFL has shot down those rumors, saying the Super Bowl will go on as planned.

“The Super Bowl will be played,” Greg Aiello, senior vice president of communications for the NFL, told ABC News.

The Senate passed its own bipartisan bill to reauthorize TRIA in the summer, but last week, the House passed a different measure that funds the program for six years and includes a provision that rolls back some limits placed on Wall Street banks in the Dodd-Frank reform bill.

That House measure faces an up-hill battle in the Senate this week as a few Senate Democrats oppose the inclusion of the Dodd-Frank language. On the Republican side, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has threatened to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote.

“There may not be any TRIA until January, the next Congress. I’m OK with that,” Coburn said, according to National Journal. “Quite frankly, I don’t care whether TRIA happens or not. Because I believe that markets will fill in that void.”

The NFL has teamed up with other prominent businesses, including the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, as part of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism to lobby Congress to renew the measure by the end of the year.

The Senate is aiming to hold a vote on the measure before the session adjourns at the end of the week.

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Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — At 37 years old, Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy would make history as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. President Obama has nominated him and, if confirmed, Murthy would be the youngest appointed Surgeon General and the first of Indian descent.

The Senate votes Monday night on whether to make Murthy America’s top doctor, a vote that could end up being close. In the meantime, here are seven facts you should know about him:

1. He was born in England to immigrant parents.

Murthy’s parents are from South India, but he grew up in Miami. Throughout his life, he has made frequent visits to his parents’ homeland, according to an interview in Harvard magazine.

2. He wanted to be in the medical field since he was a kid.

His father was a family practitioner in Miami and, as a young boy, Murthy would spend time in his father’s clinic. It was how he developed a love for medicine and science.

3. He’s wicked smart.

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician did his undergrad at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in three years’ time. He didn’t stop there. Murthy got a combined medical and business degree from Yale. He was also valedictorian of his high school.

4. The NRA does not want him appointed.

There was dispute in the spring when Obama first nominated Murthy. The NRA is against Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General because he holds anti-gun beliefs, which he has made known on Twitter.

As a result of the NRA’s intense opposition, the White House had to pull back on Dr. Murthy’s nomination.

5. He’s incredibly healthy.

Murthy’s fridge is stocked with foods like raw carrots, almond milk and high-protein grains, according to the Boston Globe. To stay in shape, he does yoga daily.

6. He co-founded several organizations.

Along with his sister, Murthy founded a nonprofit organization, VISIONS Worldwide Inc., devoted to AIDS education in India. Murthy also created a system, TrialNetworks, that improves clinical trials so new drugs can marketed sooner and more safely. He’s a co-founder and president of Doctors for America.

7. He supports the Affordable Care Act.

Doctors for America was formerly known as Doctors for Obama. It’s an organization of 16,000 doctors and medical students whose goal is improving health-care access.

8. He’s a bachelor.

The young accomplished physician focuses on his work and his friends. Because Murthy is unmarried and has no children of his own, he sends gifts to his friends for special occasions and acts as the “single, honorary uncle.”

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Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — At 37 years old, Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy would make history as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. President Obama has nominated him and, if confirmed, Murthy would be the youngest appointed Surgeon General and the first of Indian descent.

The Senate votes Monday night on whether to make Murthy America’s top doctor, a vote that could end up being close. In the meantime, here are seven facts you should know about him:

1. He was born in England to immigrant parents.

Murthy’s parents are from South India, but he grew up in Miami. Throughout his life, he has made frequent visits to his parents’ homeland, according to an interview in Harvard magazine.

2. He wanted to be in the medical field since he was a kid.

His father was a family practitioner in Miami and, as a young boy, Murthy would spend time in his father’s clinic. It was how he developed a love for medicine and science.

3. He’s wicked smart.

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician did his undergrad at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in three years’ time. He didn’t stop there. Murthy got a combined medical and business degree from Yale. He was also valedictorian of his high school.

4. The NRA does not want him appointed.

There was dispute in the spring when Obama first nominated Murthy. The NRA is against Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General because he holds anti-gun beliefs, which he has made known on Twitter.

As a result of the NRA’s intense opposition, the White House had to pull back on Dr. Murthy’s nomination.

5. He’s incredibly healthy.

Murthy’s fridge is stocked with foods like raw carrots, almond milk and high-protein grains, according to the Boston Globe. To stay in shape, he does yoga daily.

6. He co-founded several organizations.

Along with his sister, Murthy founded a nonprofit organization, VISIONS Worldwide Inc., devoted to AIDS education in India. Murthy also created a system, TrialNetworks, that improves clinical trials so new drugs can marketed sooner and more safely. He’s a co-founder and president of Doctors for America.

7. He supports the Affordable Care Act.

Doctors for America was formerly known as Doctors for Obama. It’s an organization of 16,000 doctors and medical students whose goal is improving health-care access.

8. He’s a bachelor.

The young accomplished physician focuses on his work and his friends. Because Murthy is unmarried and has no children of his own, he sends gifts to his friends for special occasions and acts as the “single, honorary uncle.”

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Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — At 37 years old, Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy would make history as the 19th U.S. Surgeon General. President Obama has nominated him and, if confirmed, Murthy would be the youngest appointed Surgeon General and the first of Indian descent.

The Senate votes Monday night on whether to make Murthy America’s top doctor, a vote that could end up being close. In the meantime, here are seven facts you should know about him:

1. He was born in England to immigrant parents.

Murthy’s parents are from South India, but he grew up in Miami. Throughout his life, he has made frequent visits to his parents’ homeland, according to an interview in Harvard magazine.

2. He wanted to be in the medical field since he was a kid.

His father was a family practitioner in Miami and, as a young boy, Murthy would spend time in his father’s clinic. It was how he developed a love for medicine and science.

3. He’s wicked smart.

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician did his undergrad at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in three years’ time. He didn’t stop there. Murthy got a combined medical and business degree from Yale. He was also valedictorian of his high school.

4. The NRA does not want him appointed.

There was dispute in the spring when Obama first nominated Murthy. The NRA is against Dr. Murthy as Surgeon General because he holds anti-gun beliefs, which he has made known on Twitter.

As a result of the NRA’s intense opposition, the White House had to pull back on Dr. Murthy’s nomination.

5. He’s incredibly healthy.

Murthy’s fridge is stocked with foods like raw carrots, almond milk and high-protein grains, according to the Boston Globe. To stay in shape, he does yoga daily.

6. He co-founded several organizations.

Along with his sister, Murthy founded a nonprofit organization, VISIONS Worldwide Inc., devoted to AIDS education in India. Murthy also created a system, TrialNetworks, that improves clinical trials so new drugs can marketed sooner and more safely. He’s a co-founder and president of Doctors for America.

7. He supports the Affordable Care Act.

Doctors for America was formerly known as Doctors for Obama. It’s an organization of 16,000 doctors and medical students whose goal is improving health-care access.

8. He’s a bachelor.

The young accomplished physician focuses on his work and his friends. Because Murthy is unmarried and has no children of his own, he sends gifts to his friends for special occasions and acts as the “single, honorary uncle.”

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A severed power line was the cause of a power outage at the State Department Monday.

The power line serving the main State building was accidentally severed during construction work Monday morning, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a written statement.

“All emergency systems are fully operating under generator power,” the statement read.

It will take several hours to fully restore power from regular sources.

All non-emergency personnel are being relocated to other offices or will tele-commute for the day.

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