Poll: Most favor military trials for terror suspects

The majority of voters want terror suspects to be tried in military courts, not civilian ones, according to a poll released Wednesday.

59 percent of voters surveyed in the latest Quinnipiac University poll say that 9/11 terrorism suspects should be tried in military courts while 35 percent say should not.

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Those polled also say 68 to 25 percent that terrorism suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial.

The results run counter to the President Barack Obama's preference to try terror suspects in civilian courts. The White House in Nov. 2009 announced that the so-called 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four others will be tried in a lower Manhattan federal court. The trial's location has recently been cast into doubt, but the administration still supports a civilian trial for the suspects.

"When it comes to how suspected terrorists should be treated by the American judicial system there is a significant gap between the American people and President Barack Obama," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Although they give the president a 49 - 44 percent approval rating on handling terrorism, the devil is in the details. When it comes to his decision to treat suspected terrorists as common criminals deserving of civilian trials rather than as enemy combatants judged by military tribunals they are strongly in the other corner."

Democrats narrowly prefer civilian courts 48 to 45 percent but Republicans and Independents strongly support the use of military courts 73 to 23 percent and 61 to 33 percent respectively. 

Voters were split on the Obama administration's handling of the Christmas Day bombing suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

A large majority of voters say that the 23-year-old Nigerian should be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an civilian, voters say 76 to 19 percent.

But voters approve 52 to 42 percent of the FBI's decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights after his interrogation.

The poll surveyed 2,617 registered voters nationwide from Feb. 2 to 8, with a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percent.