November 16th, 2009
04:06 PM ET
12 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. GI Joe

    YOU LIE!!!

    I saw the poll = CNN Lies to stir up divisiveness

    November 16, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. Mark

    So Bush was the "go it alone" president?
    Americans dislike bailouts, government health care and KSM trial. When will the teflon wear off this president?

    November 16, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Mike in Tacoma

    Who cares about what the polls say? This country was founded on law! We should relish in the fact that we are taking the high road in conducting a criminal trail! Which should have been done years ago... If they were found guilty in a military trail, it would STILL be a mark on the fabric of our great country...

    November 16, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Bush and Cheney should be tried in military tribunal – open to tv cameras.

    November 16, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. abcdefg

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

    Hey Vic of New York.

    , Put down the dope and step away.
    And next time PLEASE don't vote

    November 16, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  6. NoName

    O listens and learns, but not to what benefits the Constitutional USA. He serves another cause.

    November 16, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  7. Uncle Sam

    Set up a picnic table at Ground Zero, try the terrorists, convict them (since they've already confessed), and let the family members of those murdered tear them to pieces – slowly. OR... fly a loaded Predator Drone very slowly toward them and make them watch their ticket to Hell coming at them.

    November 16, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  8. A concerned U. S Citizen

    Some one who is not a U. S citizen and who killed innocent U. S citizens in the World Trade Center should no be given the privileges of a U. S citizen in a trial for the crimes committed. The famous legal doctrine is that one who seeks equity must come with clean hands. One who has hands tainted with the blood of innocent U. S citizens is not coming with clean hands and is not entitled for any leniency in any sort of justice system whether it is civil or military.

    November 16, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. e cruz

    Let me save the country alot of money.
    We are in the middle of a budget deficit.
    I will personally try, convict, and execute these terrorist "free of charge".
    They do not deserve a trial in a court, in front of a Judge, and in the presence of a jury.

    They cannot be rehabilitated nor reformed.
    Their intent was to kill.

    My intent is retribution.
    They needed to be extinguished.

    November 16, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. A concerned U. S Citizen

    Some one who is not a U. S citizen and who killed innocent U. S citizens in the World Trade Center should not be given the privileges of a U. S citizen in a trial for the crimes committed. The famous legal doctrine is that one who seeks equity must come with clean hands. One who has hands tainted with the blood of innocent U. S citizens is not coming with clean hands and is not entitled for any leniency in any sort of justice system whether it is civil or military.

    November 16, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. MARK

    Obama has screwed up AGAIN. This trial needs to be in a military court. End of discussion.

    November 16, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  12. JJoseph

    Why don't any of you individuals commenting about how it's taken 8 years to get these criminals to justice ask why it's taken the Obama administration almost a year just to decide where they intend to conduct the trials?

    November 16, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. Bev

    Tax payers are going to be stuck paying for every red cent of this Obama circus!!!

    PLUS..........He will be placing New York and New York citizens at risk for another terrorist attack.

    PLUS.........He is opening very sore wounds for the emergency responders and victims' families--–by bringing the trials to New York.

    PLUS.........They were TERRORISTS, not criminals. Therefore, they should stand trial in our military courts, NOT civil court.

    PLUS.........There is a chance, that these terrorists could go free.

    Can you imagine those selected for jury duty??? You couldn't pay me to do it.

    November 16, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Well, that's still an improvement over the previous administration who didn't want to try any of these evil doers even in a military court! I think justice is making headway.

    November 16, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. Bpin

    Question no one has asked. What if he wins in a US court? It could happen very easily. Almost 30% of court cases won in the US are won due to technicality. There are plenty of chances for that in this case. I would not want to be in NY the day something like this happened. He has no business being tried here for that very reason. Try him in military court for his war crimes.

    November 16, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  16. Bren

    Republicans won't even have to campaign for the 2012 elections--they can just sit back, watch, laugh---and let Obama, Pelosi, and Reid destroy the chances of almost every Democratic candidate in 2010--and the Democratic Party as well.

    It is almost like they want to get clobbered in 2010!!!

    November 16, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Charlie

    Question for people why should we let terrorists hide behind our constitution in civilian court when they cowardly murdered 3000 innocent civilians. Another reason we should not bring it to a civilian court think of the evidence obtained in some remote mountain in Afghanistan there were no search warrants or all of the great men and woman in the CIA and FBI doing undercover work to help protect us. If we follow the constitution in a civilian court then all of that can not be used and these terrorists will be let free.

    November 16, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Peter E

    The Bush administration tried and convicted dozens of Al Quaida in civilian courts, and nobody had a problem with that! The Bush administration also released, without trial over four hundred other suspected Al Quaida who have since then joined terrorist organizations back in theri countries. Once again, nobody said a word. Why is it okay for Bush Jr. to make these decisions, but it is considered traitorous if Obama does EXACTLY THE SAME THING?

    November 16, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. Houff

    If CNN is tending right (and I am not at all sure that is the case), it is likely due to poor ratings, while Fox (which obviously does tend right– as balance against nearly every other network on broadcast and cable tv) is cleaning its competition's clock in the ratings.

    November 16, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  20. mjm

    "He was charged on February 11, 2008, with war crimes and murder by a U.S. military commission and faces the death penalty if convicted."

    There you have it. He was charged in a military commission, he needs to be tried by military commission.

    Military commissions are designed to give these non-citizens their day in court, protect their rights and US intelligence at the same time.

    Pretty straight forward even if you are a mentally challenged Liberal/Democrat......like Obama and his AG.

    November 16, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  21. Fitz in Texas

    This is exactly what Obama wants. He'll be putting American citizens and this country on trail as well. Obama once again slaps this country and the American in the face.

    November 16, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  22. Limbaugh is a liberal

    The biggest act of DOMESTIC terrorism in the United States was perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, a war hero, registered republican and NRA member. He blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing hundreds of innocent people, including a daycare center with a hundred children! He was arrested, tried in a CIVILIAN court, sentenced to death despite RIGHT-WING attempts to turn the trial into a political circus against the Clinton administration, and pretty speedily (by American standards) executed. Justice has been served!

    November 16, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Marc from San Diego

    This is such a non-issue. The bottom line is that they are going to be tried, convicted, and justice will be served. Who cares where they are tried, this is another Republican non-issue hissy fit. Stop wasting our time and get back to work.

    November 16, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. Kelly, Boston

    I think that this animal should be tried in a New York federal court with New York jurors. I lived in New York for eleven years, having moved there six years before the attack. I understand that it was an attack on America–But it was primarily an attack on New York and its citizens, and the citizens of the surrounding areas (e.g., New Jersey, Connecticut). I lived with 1/2 mile of the Trade Center site, and smelled the destruction every day for months. Justice for this human filth should be served by the people of New York, not by military bureaucrats. The people of New York should have the right to put this stinking pile to death.

    November 16, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Blaq Ops

    The questions isn't civilian court or military tribunal, the issue is why in the God's name are we bringing them so close to hallowed ground to be tried. In this day and age, we can have them tried via satellite, by a jury of civilian New Yorkers. They don't need to, nor should they be given the luxury of actually being present. The burden on our local resources will be tremendous, and can be better spent. We're talking about scaling back Medicare and Education so these cowards could get a fair day in court? Are you kidding me??? Keep them in Guantanamo and don't spend a dime transporting them to the mainland. Especially NOT NY......

    November 16, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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