November 16th, 2009
04:06 PM ET
9 months ago

CNN Poll: Americans want KSM tried in military court

Washington (CNN) – Two-thirds of Americans disagree with the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court rather than a military court, according to a new national poll.

But six in 10 people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say that the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks should be tried in the United States, as the administration plans to do, rather than at a U.S. facility in another country.

The poll indicates that 64 percent believe Mohammed should be tried in military court, with 34 percent suggesting that he face trial in civilian court. Six in 10 people questioned say Mohammed should be tried stateside, with 37 percent calling for the trial to take place at a U.S. facility in another country.

"The decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in front of a civilian court is universally unpopular - even a majority of Democrats and liberals say that he should be tried by military authorities," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Despite that, most Americans say that he will get a fair trial in the U.S."


Mohammed is one of five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 attacks that will be tried in civilian court in New York.
"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September 11 will finally face justice," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will all be transferred to the Southern District of New York - a few blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

What should happen if Mohammed is found guilty?

"Nearly eight in 10 favor the death penalty if that happens - including one in five who say they normally oppose the death penalty, but would support it in this case," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 13-15, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample.

Full results (pdf)

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Khalid Sheik Mohammed
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Kevin Evansville, IN

    To me is sounds more like "real court" vs "kangaroo court."

    I don't see why there is a military court and civilian court, and not a single unified system. At the basic level, you have a person being charged with a crime. If he's guilty, or not, why would one branch of the justice system be any more capable than the other in determining the facts? And if there are potential differences in outcomes, isn't this a glaring flaw with the system itself?

    November 16, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Marc

    "After eight years of DELAY, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September 11 will finally face JUSTICE," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.
    Couldn't say any better! They are being held for so long and without the proper indictment under what reasons? If there's proofs that they were behind it then use those proofs! Try them and convict them!
    It's not about lynch mobs, kangaroo trials or any other stuff like that. It's about JUSTICE, and it has been delayed for too many years!

    November 16, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Mark Meyer

    Don't try the KSM in NYC. Think of the security cost, the likelyhood of a terrorist attack.

    I don't want some suicide bomber walking into a bus, subway or store in protest of the trial.

    Try him in Washington, DC by the military. NYC has had enough!

    November 16, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Proud Member..Party of No

    lolol......ooops......another boneheaded and WRONG decision by Obama. This guy can't do anything right. Is he actually trying to be the worst president ever because, if so, then he's right on track.

    November 16, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Jacque Bauer

    9.9 out of ten intelligent Americans want KSM tried in a military tribunal. The loony left and political treasonists want a criminal process to put the Bush administration on trial. Disgusting.

    November 16, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. John

    Can't understand all the fuss about where KSM is tried.

    What difference does it make?

    November 16, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Richp

    You must have polled all the lawyers and media types that are licking their chops at trying to get a piece of this action. Nobody sane wants them tried here, they were MILITARY and need to be treated by the MILITARY.
    Now if you want to EXECUTE them here by hanging at the WTC which would be fitting, that would be fine by me.
    I wonder what the democrats are going to try to pass while that DOG and PONY show is going on in NYC.

    November 16, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. ATL Guy

    Maybe we should disband the Senate and Congress and let the President make decisions based on CNN and Fox News poll results. What a torrid mess that will be.

    November 16, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. bill

    One more downfall for King Obama..

    P. S. One term president

    November 16, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. M-AZ

    I for one think that Mohammed and the other detainees should be tried in a civilian court room, because:

    (1) Their crimes were committed against Everydat Civilians.
    (2) Their crimes, no matter how heinous, are NOT war crimes...in
    fact, we were not even at war when 9/11 happened.
    (3) These men are not Military Soldiers or representatives of any
    recognized government. They are in fact, rogues & thugs
    who master-minded an attack against American Civilians.

    This scenario is no different than what was decided for Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice (Tim McVeigh was by the way, a retired military soldier).

    November 16, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. TCM

    CNN polls of steering misinformation are alive and well today, I see. First, the poll boneheads are saying that "most Americans...feel Palin's not qualified at be president.." yeah, all 1014 Americans were polled. And, all were Obama supporters...now, CNN's really going out on a limb and saying 2/3 of the public don't want the GITMO terrorists tried here...when the number's actually closer to 98%..if not 100%....
    Come on CNN...this is a bunch of liberal crap you're spewing

    November 16, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. inofritzn

    HE admitted the crime = give him the punishment he wanted in the first place. NO trial necessary . Obama needs to stop worrying about his image so much, it's not high school here. Do the right thing and move on.

    November 16, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Libertarian

    Unless Congress had declared war against all these terrorists home countries, they cannot be tried for "war crimes". Pleeeease people. We are a nation of laws. These people committed MURDER in the State of NY. They should be tried for murder in the State of NY.

    Unless you want every foreign gov't out there prosecuting American's in front of their military courts (which are secret) then we must follow our own laws as well as international law.

    November 16, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Julie

    So is this an indictment on our judicial system? That we are suppose to have the best justice system in the world, and innocent until proven guilty? Do we not believe in this concept from our founding fathers anymore?? We don't really support the idea of a "fair" trial. We only support the idea of our desired outcome.

    November 16, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Scott

    Why is everyone continuing to act based on fear? Ditch the fearmongers already.

    Americans need to find some courage and take some pride in our judicial system. If we prove that we mean what we say – that our system of laws is reasonable, honest and fair – and that it can handle "the boogeyman" in court – then we really are what we claim to be . . . an shining, proud example to the world of integrity and reason..

    Unfortunately, some cower and spread fearful stories for political gain – but what they're really doing is showing is a stunning lack of faith in the way this Country's system was designed. Believing in this country is more than wearing a flag lapel pin . . . don't be a coward.

    November 16, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Justice

    I agree with George Will that Attorney General Holder did not make a bad choice on the trial.

    The strength of our justice system has successfully prosecuted other cases involving terrorism, both domestic and international.

    November 16, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Wilfredo

    to which army do these "war" criminals belong?

    November 16, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Obama = WORST president EVER

    Duh. Now somebody tell the Idiot-in-Chief.

    November 16, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  19. eyeforeye

    He should have been given what he deserved long ago. Make the punishment fit the crime, boom.

    November 16, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. Republican'ts are so YESTERDAY

    Only anti-Americans don't believe in our legal system and our Constitution. If they are tried in a military court it elevates them from terrorists to military and they ARE NOT PART OF ANY COUNTRY'S MILITARY!

    November 16, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Tram

    Try them.
    Find them guilty.
    Hang 'em high.
    Air it all on internation television.

    November 16, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but.....

    We are at war. At war with terrorism. At war with an idea, a method. This works out well for the military-industrial complex because, by constantly redifining who and where the "terrorists" are, we can maintain a state of "war" indefinitely. Hey, it keeps the uppity liberals in check, because they wouldn't want to be seen as soft on terrorists, and it gives the poor and working class something to do. While Halliburton and Blackwater count their money (our tax $). Brilliant. Have a nice day!

    November 16, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Marc

    During (and after) WWII the US courts held trials against foreigners whom had tried to spread chaos and mayhem in US soil, with various degrees of success and failure in their attempts. They worked well for such purpose back then.
    The world changed a lot since then and fortunately most of the laws changed as well (Civil Rights anyone?), but they did not changed that much that they cannot be used against foreigners bent on spread terror in the US.

    November 16, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. Mary C., TX

    Why shouldn't NY be allowed to try this person. It happened there and it's in their jurisdiction. If it happened in TX, I would expect it to be tried in TX. Then we could show how justice is served!

    November 16, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. Nico

    Good decision by Eric Holder. Yet another bungled mess inherited from the inept republicans.
    We now have an administration that thinks.

    November 16, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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