Attorney General Eric Holder discussed and defended his decision to try the accused 9/11 conspirators in Manhattan today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, offering reasons for doing so that will be, and have been, parsed by analysts today and beyond.
But if public opinion comes to bear on this discussion, it's important to note that we don't really have polling on it yet. Holder made his announcement on Monday, and, since then, no major nationwide polls have been conducted. Marist polled 602 New Yorkers on Monday and found that they back the decision 45-41--but that's the most up-to-date survey we have.
That said, it looks like Holder's decision is unpopular.
Americans preferred a "closed military court" for the 9/11 suspects to an "open criminal court" 54 percent to 40 percent, with 6 percent undecided, in a CBS poll conducted Nov. 13-16 (the last day of which was the day Holder announced the trials' location). They preferred a military court 64 percent to 34 percent in a Nov. 13-15 CNN/Opinion Research poll (results at Pollingreport.com).
So we don't know whether opinion will change after the decision has actually been made--now that Americans have something concrete to react to and judge--or how Holder's reasoning and explanation will play (or if they'll sway anyone's opinion).
We just know that generally, before he announced the decision, most Americans were against trying the 9/11 suspects in federal court. Since polls are conducted all the time and they generally take two to four days, we'll probably get more information on America's reaction to the 9/11 trials decision soon.
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