Trials for Terrorists?

October 14, 2010, 10:00 PM GMT+0

Americans approve of the decision to try Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square this year, in civilian court – and to give him the rights of an American Citizen. But they are not sure that should be the case for all trials of accused terrorists, even for those who are Americans citizens.

Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for his failed bombing attempt. 46% of Americans approve of the decision to give him the rights of a U.S. citizen, but 31% don’t.

But when it comes to other potential trials for U.S. citizens accused of terrorism, more would treat them as enemy combatants (37%) than would give them their rights as citizens under the Constitution (31%).

By a margin of 65% to 18%, Americans want terrorists – even foreign terrorists – to be tried. But they prefer that those trials take place in military, rather than civilian courts. Terrorism remains an underlying worry for many Americans. Only 36% think the country is safer now than it was in 2001, and more than half say another terrorist attack is possible in the next twelve months. And it is not a strong issue for President Obama. In this poll, 43% approve of the way he is handling terrorism; 47% disapprove.

Image source: flickr (bloomsberries)

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