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. Vic of New York

    First... I don't understand this... The same Right-Wing nuts who want to pug it out with every nation that disagrees with us – don't have the brass tacks to try a "terrorist" on our soil? Typical. That's like the draft dodging DICK Cheney saying the President is exposing America to "terrorism" while hiding at some "undisclosed" location!

    Second... All of a sudden America should stop following the very Constitution and Laws these Wing-Nuts say they are for, just because this disturbed character happens to be a Muslim? What hypocrisy!

    The crime occurred on a military base and perpetrated by a military officer. Let the military follow its procedures!

    November 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Eddie

    I would like some reporter to ask someone who supports KSM being tried in NYC the following questions:

    How long do they think the civiian trial will take? 5 months? 2 to 3 years?

    How much do they think it will cost taxpayers?

    How long has the longest military tribunal ever taken?
    How long would a military tribunal have cost compared to a civilian trial?

    November 16, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    And now watch as the dems in power review the polls and waffle about trying them in civvy courts.

    Why are these terrorists allowed to walk the earth??? You know, in WWII when our troops caught sabateurs or non-uniformed combattants, it was OK to execute them after gleaning any intelligence from them.

    November 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. gee

    If the DEM wants to win, if CNN wants more viewers, they should stop the OBAMA PAMPERING. I and most of my friends were / are DEMS. They swiched to REPUB. or IND. because they no sign of CHANGE ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

    TRANSPARENCY? NO LOBBYISTS? FREEDOM OF PRESS? FREEDOM OF SPEECH? CHANGE? HOPE? PROMISES? JOB CREATION?

    We see a clueless guy in the WH; we see a guy in empty suit.
    We are tired of motivated rhetoric yet useless speeches.

    It costs him nothing to deliver a great speech. Yet it costs us a lot to pay for that so-called great speech !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 16, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. 1984

    Cheney should be right next to him as a war criminal.

    November 16, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Gonzo in Houston

    I don't know who will be the lead prosecutor, but I hope he's got an absolutely air-tight case! And who will defend this guy, I wonder? The OJ team? Johnnie Cochran has passed but Barry Scheck is still active.

    Of course, if KSM somehow beats the rap in court, he could be released as a free man - right there on the courthouse steps in downtown NYC. With a few thousand citizens waiting and not a cop to be seen!

    November 16, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. Rueben

    Another idiotic move by the Obama Administration.

    November 16, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. D.

    Americans with good sense of honesty and justice want a militant terrorist to be tried when its world is and where he belongs, namely in "military court."
    However, the will of Americans and the current administration's will are sometimes at opposing positions due to "so called liberals" (those that have nothing to do with personal liberties) being in charge!!!!
    No change: the people wanting one thing and the administration doing the opposite– G.W. Bush's third term!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 16, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  9. Priscilla

    Those oppose, mostly Republicans....what else is new?

    Republican opposition to Preisent Obama has reached a point of RIDICULOUSLY FUNNY! He should announce the number of times he uses the boys room per day....YA THINK THEY WOULD SAY NO TO THAT! Sorry Mr. President, too much use of the men's room!!!!!!

    November 16, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  10. single mom

    Seems to me that you put them where you want people to attack to ensure the 'defendants' can become martyrs.

    Haven't the people of NYC been through enough? How about trying them in Chicago? Their lawyers will probably ask for a 'change in venue' as NYC will be seen as bias and they won't be able to get enough people on the jury who weren't affected by the attacks in the first place.

    I liked the suggestion of putting them in general population, though.

    November 16, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. GodsCountry

    The trouble is ACQUITTAL.
    We all know it's possible, but hold the thought behind bars of DENIAL.
    If they get New York lawyers, if they are acquitted, BHO must pay the price justice demands and be IMPEACHED for treasonous acts.

    November 16, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. raj

    I am shocked at the decision.I wuld like Feds, NY City govt and where ever these guys are going to be put to capture the costs associated with it. This is to show the world what ? We are already a symbol of freedom and fairness & dont need to prove it to anyone.What a waste of public money and time. Sometimes I wonder if this administration is guided by folks who are not their best friend or Mr Obama has only one term in mind ?

    November 16, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Hendrik

    We are very interesting. We tout our justice system but then shun it in favor of a military system since it will be "easier" to convict someone? Do we realize how hypocritical we are? We don't want justice; we want a trial for these "guilty scoundrels" that gets the result we want.
    Do not get me wrong; I detest the scum who organized the attack on our country and its people but can we at least pretend that we want justice?

    November 16, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Copernicus In Brasil

    1984 says: 'Cheney should be right next to him as a war criminal'
    ++++++++
    My Friend, I am sure that you are an Ivy League Law Review Graduate, but you are alll over the place. . . .you need to call your buddy Eric H older and Barak Hussein Obama and get on the same page and pick which court you want.. . . .
    A War Criminal in Civil Court. . that is hilarious!

    November 16, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. canadian pov

    If you are so afraid of trying them in NYC, they win. The MO of any act of terror is to well, to terrorize. Bush/Cheney and the current leaders of the GOP use fear to try to control..... oh, wait a minute....

    November 16, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Gerry

    After the trial is over then the jury, judge and others will need protection for the rest of there lives at a cost of millions. They will have the right of American citizens and use this to tie up the courts for many years at the cost of 10s of millions of dollars. Try them in gitmo and then execute them with one bullit 53 cents each total cost $115.01. Now what so smart about this dicision. Senator Jack Reed said even if the were to win we still would not release them and this is our fair legal system.

    November 16, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. SOL

    Obama and Holder are fools to think that having a civilian court for this murderer is the correct direction.

    November 16, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. ggb

    Once we bring these "terrorists" to US soil, they can no longer be tried as "enemy combatants" and the facts and chain of evedince changes. If Congress commissioned the military to do this, why is Obama once again making his own laws? Does he not remember KSM was tried once in NYC and deported to do more harm? Does he really think NYC will be safe? Why could Obama say "he would win the war" and now we are no longer at war cause we have no enemy cpombatants?The man has no clue and this whole thing is a travesty. No wonder the military has low moral with a jokester as Commander in Chief!
    I am tired of the Obama way and not the law.

    November 16, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. German,Irish American

    Be honest CNN, Democrats, and Independents who all voted for Obama, do you think this would be happening if McCain/Palin were in office?

    November 16, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  20. Donnatella

    Why didn't Bush and Cheney take care of this, these scumbags have been in jail for 8 years, why now are we prosecuting them, these men should have been put in front of a firing squad years ago. I don't care how its done or who prosecutes them. You republicans are scared of your own shadows, all you do is complain about whatever this administration does, a bunch of monday morning quarterbacks, hiding behind your own fear. Lets just do it.

    November 16, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. Rob

    Hopefully the trial will be fair regardless of whether it is a military court or a civilian court, but having full blown insurgents in the New York penal system might end up a recipe for disaster. Prisons are HUGE recruitment sites for these guys and the end result may be terrorists with American passports.

    November 16, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Allen from Illinois

    Try these terrorists in a civilian court where they will be seen as criminals, rather than soldiers! If we try them in a military court, we legitimize their claim to be "soldiers," the Muslim world will see them as Holy Warriors rather than criminals! We must reinforce the truth that they are actually criminals, and not soldiers, by trying them in civilian court. Let our justice system do what it is designed to do! And don't forget, the Military Justice System is based on the Constitution; it has the same safeguards a civilian court!

    November 16, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  23. Jeremy

    One thing Obama and Holder fail to realize is that if Mohammed is tried in New York, it will most likely be a circus trial, with the Bush administration on trial for improper interrogation techniques. The trial focus will shift from this horrible man who should be put to death for killing over 3,000 civilians to the administration who interrogated him in how the bleeding-heart liberals call "cruel and unusual". People fail to realize that the people that we interrogated were some of the most notorious terrorists on this planet that we needed information from. Mohammed needs to be tried in military court so the trial will focus on Mohammed instead of the prior administration.

    November 16, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  24. bawana

    try him in new york let the facts come out in the case people need to know and have the right to know what happened

    November 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  25. 1959

    Let them be tried by the military. We are not the only country affected by their devastation.

    November 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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