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Americans Reject “Not Bush” Approach to Fighting Terrorism

The latest Quinnipiac poll reports:

American voters say 59 – 35 percent that 9/11 terrorism suspects should be tried in military courts rather than in civilian courts, as currently planned. Voters say 68 – 25 percent that terrorism suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial. Democrats prefer civilian courts 48 – 45 percent. Support for military courts is 73 – 23 percent among Republicans and 61 – 33 percent among independent voters.

The suspect who allegedly tried to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day should be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an ordinary criminal, voters say 76 – 19 percent. But voters approve 52 – 42 percent of the FBI’s advice to the suspect of his right to remain silent.

“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 Brown. “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. There is a similar disconnect on the basic question of whether suspected terrorists should have the same rights as ordinary criminals.

At the same time, voters are pleased with Obama’s Afghanistan troop-surge decision – – by a large 56 to 37 percent margin.

This should tell the Obami something. At a time when their domestic policies are cratering in public polling and their approach to the war against Islamic fascists (whom they dare not refer to in such candid terms) is hugely unpopular, they would do well to note that a robust strategy in Afghanistan does, in fact, engender widespread support. In this case, smart policy meets good politics. The Obami have been pursuing a not-Bush approach on terrorism that is neither sound on the merits nor politically sustainable.

The question remains how to reverse course and shed the flawed and unsustainable policies they have adopted. They might start, of course, with canning two principal advisers — Eric Holder and John Brennan — who show particular contempt for the facts and disdain for the bipartisan opposition. But that would require Obama to admit error. And honestly, what do we think the chances of that are?



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