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. Really?!

    So what happens if there's a mis-trial? What happens if a jury finds him not guilty? Does he go free and laugh all the way back to his country? What if we find him guilty and execute him? Will the muslims like us more since we executed one of their own, but in a more diplomatic way? This is what happens when you put liberals in charge.

    November 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. sandy

    I think 2/3's agree because they don't understand what's going on. Doesn't say much for society does it?

    November 16, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. TK

    Try him on a pig farm. All his jailers should be menstrating women.

    November 16, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Robin in Tampa, FL

    I have mixed feelings about the administration's approach, firstly I applaud them for finally bringing these criminals to trial, however not everyone is being tried the same way ... the people they know they can easily convict (KSM and a few others) they get trials, the people who are a little harder to convict they get military tribunals, and the people who they can't convict they are basically keeping locked away indefinitely without any trial.

    This basically means these will be show trials, if the government feels it cant get a conviction they will not get a trial. Essentially this is two steps forward and one step back, but maybe this is the best progress we can achieve for now.

    November 16, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. J.D. Wells

    Ultimate Solution.....Put these guys on a warship out in the middle of the
    Atlantic Ocean. Hold the trial on a Navy warship that can be easily modified to become a courtroom. If they are war criminals, they should be tried in a military court. If found guilty....walk the PLANK! Problem solved.

    November 16, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Peter s

    It doesn't matter whether they will be tried in civilian or military courts Why can't these goons just be hanged ?

    November 16, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. Adam

    Yes we can
    Yes we can
    Yes we can

    sure did lol.

    I say death by firing squad in ANOTHER county
    or feed them to great white sharks.I wouldn't give
    them the freedom to step one foot on American soil.
    this county has turned into a bunch of pussies afraid to do things the right way.

    November 16, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. Chris

    "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!"

    Actually, Obama is the first president to make the decision that someone in their position deserves a civilian trial. Apparently Franklin Roosevelt was some sort of wing-nut because he came to the same conclusion.

    This decision is purely political. It's misguided, and will end up hurting the administration. They need to pull the plug on this before it's too late. Although I'm betting they don't realize that. The moment he steps into court and challenges any evidence on the grounds that he wasn't mirandized... people are going to be seriously disillusioned. At that point, you either railroad him through, leaving the impression of a lack of justice, or you end up acquitting him, because none of your evidence is admissible.

    It's lose/lose.

    November 16, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. terry,va

    Why take the risk and expense to our country? Maybe they will actually get to the White House the next time. God bless those that took down the plane in PA.

    November 16, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. fred gill

    The main purpose of this, as one poster said is to embarass Obama's predecessor, and better, GWB. Now Obama can pose as the champion if the "rule of law" to his buddies in the Internationale. The fix is in on these sham trials and so they will go smoothly enough. But they set a horrible example which will come back to haunt us.

    November 16, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  11. mjm

    Would it be so hard for you liberals and Democrats to at least look up the difference between Military and Civilian courts?

    How about the Military Commissions Act of 2006? You know the law that gives these non-citizens their day in court? Could you look that up at least?

    I mean it's the same crap post after post.

    You have to be a US citizen (or at least in the country legally) in order for the Constitution to apply.

    November 16, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  12. Willy Brown

    This whole bring it to the states and hold court is nothing more than putting Bush on trial. Obummer wants live TV 24/7 on this. Holder is a doof for pulling this but he did get Bill Clinton to pardon a major tax evader

    November 16, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  13. xxception

    We are going back to treating this like a criminal matter while our opponent is still treating it like a war. This smacks of a return to the Clinton years and the "wall" between agencies. NOT a good idea. That's without mentioning the potential treasure trove of intelligence we are handing Al Quaeda on a silver platter when all of our methods and intelligence is in open court. Real smart move. (sarcasm fully intended)

    November 16, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. dmo

    I say if convicted they should release them into the federal prison system and let the vigilante justice take care of em....

    November 16, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  15. BedfordRick

    Thanks only to this forum, let me add my vote. I'm a Democrat, but I don't think I'm extremely liberal. I would have voted for a military trial, but I also have always believed we should have treated these prisoners with the Geneva Convention as our basis. Because I don't think we did, I'm terrified that these terrorists could get off scott free, simply because we treated them as if they had no rights. I'm especially concerned with a civilian court; I think there are just too many mistakes that the defense could take advantage of. Imagine what would happen if all our evidence were thrown out due to some legal technicality. You think O.J.'s trial was bad? What about Cullen Davis' trials?

    November 16, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  16. JENNIFER

    Obama said in 2006, that KSM should go before a full military court. What happened to that? KSM committed an act of war while he lived in another country. He does not deserve the same rights as an American citizen. He belongs in a military trial.

    November 16, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. Jay B

    This is a blatantly political move which has nothing to do with America's best interests. Giving terrorists constitutional rights is an affront to our constitution. Much of the evidence will be excluded from trial because they were treated as combatants, not American citizens with things such as Miranda rights.Undcoubtedly the ACLU and some democrat appointed federal judges will see that some of the terrorists will be freed.

    The real point of this charade is to allow allow the left and the government approved media to put the Bush administration on trial. So what if national security interests are compromised or a few terrorists are released, right? Last years election was a repudiation of the Bush administration, not an endorsement of a leftist revolution. Thank goodness you dems know how to make Republicans appealing. Lord knows we couldn't do it without you.

    November 16, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  18. Zonk3907840

    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?

    VERY WELL SAID!!!.....To much WASTE of OUR $$$$$$$$$$$$

    November 16, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. Suzanne

    Why does Obama want to discredit our military court system?
    If he does not believe it is fair and impartial then he should shut the military courts down.
    If our military court system is such an embarrassment to Obama then why try our good soldiers in such an awful system?
    Once again Obama demonstrates his poor judgment and shows that he worries about the opinion of other countries more than protecting America.
    Obama: "You already won the peace prize, now stop campaigning and start governing. It takes strength and judgment to lead. Stop worrying about being a celebrity and do the job we elected you to do". It almost makes we wish for George W. again. (Not really).

    November 16, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. william mccoy

    why should we try them????? just shoot them. it is going to be a show and a waste of money.

    November 16, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Marc

    If our Military Tribunals are not capable of trying these people then how can they try our soldiers?

    Enough said Obama. ANOTHER error in judgement.

    November 16, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Crazy ass human being

    This terrorist is not bound by our constitution – -hs deserves no rights.
    Give him the public execution he deserves, just as we watched the executions of our fellow Americans. No lethal injection- -THE NOOSE.
    Put it on pay per view and you could probably pay for the heathcare bill!

    November 16, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  23. Independant Vet

    What a slap in the face. No respect for the familys that lost loved ones. Just had to keep there emotions runing , an memories at high risk . Of seeing another eposide brought back .

    By now does not any of his adminstration belive in these terrorist . You can place all bets they will being there utmost to carry off another head liner.

    Yet , we the people , know this administration is learning on the job. training.

    So why don't they take it to DC. an let them catch all the fall out. Better yet house them there. .

    God bless the U S A >

    November 16, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  24. Ren from Baltimore

    Let us ask: Did the pollsters have any idea whether or not the respondents knew much about civil vs military courts?

    The military court system is not set up for this type of case, not at all. Hence the Nuremberg trials, our most blatant example.

    November 16, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  25. Joan

    Since most of the media coverage has been of Republicans who are against this like Guiliani, McCain and others who are politically speaking, it is no wonder the public thinks it is a bad idea. How about more interviews with those who have confidence in the American justice and law enforcement agencies like Mayor Bloombeg, Peter Bergen and others who are not trying to use this as a political issue. This is just another fear and smear tactic by the Republicans and the media is falling for it again. If the Republicans think the tribunals are so great, why didn't they try and convict these guys years ago by their tribunals?

    November 16, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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