The September 11th Trials: Yet another bad idea from the Obama Administration.

As the heath care debate has consumed much of the news coverage and political chit-chat over the last few weeks, focus on an important decision from President Obama’s Administration has been left hovering on the back burner. That’s the decision to try the suspected terrorists of the September 11 attacks in U.S. civilian court.

It was no coincidence the White House chose to release this jaw-dropping news on a Friday in the hope it would get buried going into the weekend. And, there’s no doubt it has been a deliberate tactic to consistently frame this political hot potato as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision for , rather than President Obama or his Administration’s decision…because voters don’t like it.

This month’s CBS/NY Times poll* shows that a majority of voters (54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) think the suspects should be tried in a closed military court while 40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say they should be tried in an open criminal court. The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll** offers similar results – 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say the five detainees accused of conspiring to commit the September 11 terrorist attacks should be tried in a military tribunal rather than in the U.S. Court system (40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}); and almost half (49{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) say Holder’s decision is a bad idea (42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} say it is a good idea).

Democrats stand alone in what can only be described as partisan support for a trial in the U.S. court system (55{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) while very solid majorities of Independents (60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and Republicans (64{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) call for a military tribunal.

Liberal Democrat defenders of Eric Holder’s decision say this is an opportunity for us to show off to the world the greatness of our democratic judicial system. Um, ok, but at what cost? One wonders if the Administration and supporters of the decision have really thought this one through.

First of all, a whopping 78{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} agree (including 70{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Democrats) the September 11 attacks were an act of terrorism, not a violent crime (6{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). There is no mystery to this: the people on trial are terrorists and they are foreigners; so why we would give them the rights afforded to Americans and treat them like criminals in an open civilian trial makes absolutely no sense. Perhaps more importantly though, these suspects had already agreed to a military tribunal, and when more consideration is given to the potential outcomes of having an open criminal trial voters – even Democrats – are rightly concerned.


Finally, keep in mind these polls were taken before this weekend’s report that the five suspects plan to now plead not-guilty so they can express their political and religious views during trial(!)

Is that really what Mr. Obama, Mr. Holder and their Democrat followers want for our country? That we have to endure the extremist rants of terrorists and re-live the national nightmare of September 11th – all in the name of trying to impress other countries? These initial voter reactions may only be the tip of the iceberg on this issue and this Administration could find itself sinking even further with voters as the whole things plays out.

*CBS/NY Times National Poll conducted November 13-16, 2009 among 1,167 adults.
**Fox News/Opinion Dynamics National Poll conducted November 17-18, 2009 among 900 registered voters.



Public Opinion Strategies