Conservative arguments against civilian trials for terrorism suspects appear to be making headway. Sixty-three percent of respondents to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll now say accused terrorists should go before military tribunals, up nine points from two years ago.
The national telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters people was conducted Dec. 9-10. The poll released Tuesday has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The survey found that 63 percent of people favor military tribunals, compared with 23 percent who prefer civilian courts, with 13 percent undecided. In July 2008, 54 percent of likely voters favored military trials.
Federal courts routinely handle terrorism suspects. But the issue of trial venue became politicized last year when Attorney General Eric Holder quickly ran into opposition to his plan to try self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators in federal court in Manhattan.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservatives attacked the decision. Later, bipartisan opposition to the costs and security issues of the trial emerged in New York, and President Barack Obama overruled Holder’s decision. Mohammed remains in limbo in the Guantanamo Bay prison with no military or civilian trial scheduled.
The Rasumussen poll also showed that 46 percent of respondents favor a ban on transferring suspected terrorists to the U.S., while 32 percent oppose such a ban, with 23 percent undecided. The responses come as Congress considers a legislative provision that would ban the transfer of terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the U.S. for any reason. The legislation is attached to a “must-pass” $1 trillion bill to fund the government, according to The Daily Caller.
Holder has urged Congress not to pass the legislation.