Gallup: Americans want KSM tried in a military tribunal

posted at 9:30 am on November 27, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Does the Obama administration ever get tired of getting things wrong?  As their public support drains from the health-care overhaul they’ve pushed for the last several months, they have managed to find another way to marginalize themselves with the American public.  By overwhelming numbers in the latest Gallup survey, Americans disapprove of the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a federal court — and can barely get a majority of Democrats to support it:

By 59% to 36%, more Americans believe accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a military court, rather than in a civilian criminal court. Most Republicans and independents favor holding the trial in a military court, while the slight majority of Democrats disagree.

These findings come from a Nov. 20-22 USA Today/Gallup poll conducted a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Mohammed’s case would move from a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, where the admitted terrorist was originally charged, to a federal court in New York City.

As with most Gallup surveys, this poll was taken among adults, not registered or likely voters.  That type of sample usually produces numbers that are more sympathetic to liberal policy positions but are less predictive in election forecasting.  This suggests that the decision may be even less popular in the more predictive sampling of registered or likely voters.

The partisan breakdown is significant, too.  Republicans oppose the decision 74/22, as might be expected.   Independents, though, also oppose it by almost 2-1, 63/32.  Democrats support it — but only by eight points, 51/43.  Support for a federal court trial is a fringe position among everyone but Democrats.

The venue isn’t popular, either.  The Obama administration decision to try KSM and his co-defendants in New York City, as opposed to another federal court, gets rejected 51/42 overall.  Again, only Democrats support the venue choice by a majority, 55/36.  Independents reject it by almost the same margin, 55/39, and Republicans oppose it 65/29.

Just about everyone agrees on the death penalty, though.  Overall, 77% of Americans believe that KSM and the other 9/11 plotters should get executed if found guilty, while only 18% oppose it — and that number doesn’t get above 22% in any partisan demographic.

Once again, the Obama administration has taken a position that puts it in the fringe of American thought — and in this case, two decisions.  With these kinds of splits, expect Obama’s job approval numbers to keep dropping.


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