Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “WND/WENZEL POLLS” – polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Nearly two out of three Americans expect another new terror attack to accompany the New York City court trials for detainees who are suspects in the 9/11 attacks in 2001, according to a new poll from Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.
“The fear of retribution from terrorists is very real all across America, the survey shows. Nearly two out of every three respondents – 61 percent – said they think it is likely that New York City will experience a terrorist attack, either before, during, or immediately after the terrorist trials,” Wenzel said.
“Just 28 percent said they thought it was unlikely that such an attack would occur. In a year that saw President Obama’s job approval rating move from 69 percent positive the day after he took office to just 41 percent positive in this survey, this has got to be seen as one of the reasons. Obama has pursued an agenda that has been opposed by a majority of Americans since their announcement, and as he continues to push them through to fruition, the American public is responding with unprecedented negativity,” he said.
The WND/Wenzel telephone survey was conducted Dec. 18-21 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers. The survey included 26 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 823 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.
The poll shows even 42 percent of Democrats said it was somewhat or very likely that New York again will be hit by terror in conjunction with the trials of defendants including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.
Even House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., has said the Obama administration may be making a big mistake by trying foreign enemy combatants in U.S. civilian courts. Skelton is the highest-ranking Democrat to challenge the decision announced several weeks ago by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Critics contend a civilian trial will give Mohammed and his accomplices a platform for slamming America and bring danger to New York City. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., warned that such a trial could move New York City “to the top of al-Qaida’s target list.”
Among members of the GOP 85 percent believe such an attack is somewhat or very likely and more than 57 percent of independents felt the same only.
Only 12 percent of Americans believe that development is “very unlikely.” The poll revealed that 16 percent of the respondents had such a fear of terrorists’ retribution that they would refuse to serve on the juries, if summoned.
Wenzel noted that the opinion further was reflected in how Americans feel about their safety under Obama.
“Just 33 percent said they think the nation is more safe under Obama – while 50 percent said they think the nation is less safe [with] Obama as commander in chief,” he said.
The polarization of the nation under Obama also was made clear here: Seven percent of the members of the GOP feel the nation is safer under Obama, while 58 percent of Democrats have that perspective. Eight-three percent of the GOP feel it is less safe, a feeling shared by 19 percent of the Democrats.
The poll also revealed that only 30 percent strongly believe it was the right decision to prosecute terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in New York’s criminal court system, while 38 percent said they strongly disagreed.
“Democrats were strongly in agreement with the decision by the Obama Justice Department, while Republicans were mostly opposed. Independent voters with strong emotions were tilted against the decision – as 41 percent strongly opposed it, and 29 percent were strongly in agreement with it,” Wenzel said.
The poll also showed a deep division about whether the trials will “end up being a great example of the strengths of the American justice system, or whether the terrorists will use them as a platform to rail against the U.S. and to justify their terrorism.”
“Those in the South were more likely than those in other regions to say the terrorists will use the trials as a platform to spew venom. About four out of 10 in every region felt the American judicial system will shine. Since these trials are expected to get under way about the time President Obama starts his re-election campaign, there is more at stake here than anyone can possibly imagine,” Wenzel said.
“In any case, most people think the terrorists will be convicted, just as President Obama predicted a few weeks ago when the announcement about the terror trials was made. Overall, 42 percent said it was ‘very likely’ that the terrorists would be convicted,” he said.
There is, however, some concern that the application of the American justice system simply won’t work.
“There is serious concern among the American public that it is impossible for the terrorists to get a trial, according to precepts of the American justice system, by a ‘jury of their peers’ because, well, they’re terrorists who are not Americans,” said Wenzel.
“Nearly half – 46 percent – said it is impossible for them to get a jury of their peers, while 31 percent disagreed. Among Republicans, 58 percent said empanelling such a jury was impossible, while 40 percent of both Democrats and independents agreed,” he said.
The issue also raised strong feelings when respondents were asked about being jurors. Forty percent said they would be happy to help, but another 30 percent would refuse because they disagreed with the decision to hold the trials in American criminal courts. Another 16 percent would refuse because they fear terrorists’ retribution.
Charged in the case is Nidal Malik Hasan.
Nidal Malik Hasan in 2003
“More than one-third of respondents – 36 percent – said then they think it is ‘very likely’ that such an attack will take place in the next six months, while another 29 percent said it is ‘somewhat likely,’” Wenzel reported at the time.
Significantly, that poll revealed while 55 percent of the respondents blamed Hasan for the massacre, 10 percent blamed President Obama, 13 percent Army leaders and 13 percent Islam.
See detailed results of survey questions:
Do you agree or disagree with the decision of the Obama Justice Department to prosecute certain foreigners, including the mastermind of the terrorist attacks of September 1, 2001, in a New York criminal court instead of a military tribunal?
The Obama Justice Department has decided to prosecute certain foreigners, including a confessed mastermind of the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001, in trial in a New York criminal court instead of a military tribunal. Which of the following best describes how you feel about this decision?