January 21st, 2009
05:33 PM ET
8 months ago

CNN Poll: Americans split on closing Guantanamo Bay prison

A detainee is seen through a fence in July at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A detainee is seen through a fence in July at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new national poll suggests Americans are split over whether the U.S. should close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicated that support for closing the detention facility has increased dramatically since 2005.

Fifty-one percent of those questioned in the survey support the closing of prison at Guantanamo Bay, with 47 percent against the closing. That's basically a split, when taking into account the survey's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

But the 51 percent who support the closing of the facility is a 15 point increase from 2005, when 36 percent polled backed the shutting down of prison at Guantanamo Bay. The 47 percent who are against the closing is down 11 points from 2005, when 58 percent opposed closing the facility.

The poll's release comes as CNN has learned that President Obama is planning to issue three executive orders on Thursday that would show a clean break from the Bush administration on the war on terror, including one demanding that the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed within one year, according to a senior administration official and a congressional aide.

Since 2001, the U.S. has held foreign terrorist suspects at the detention facility. The prison became a lightning rod for critics who charged that the Bush administration had used torture on terror detainees. Former President Bush and other senior officials repeatedly denied that the U.S. government had used torture to coax intelligence out of terror suspects.


Filed under: CNN poll • Guantanamo Bay
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Amber

    That's because the 47% are too ill-informed to realize that we're not throwing the gates open and setting them free, we'd just be moving and then trying them instead of just detaining them...

    Let them have their day in court. Maybe conservatives will get those executions they've been waiting for...

    January 21, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Robin

    Stop the torture. Keep the prison. I for one don't want the 5 men charged with planning 9/11 in my country.

    January 21, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    Guantanamo Bay is an embaressment to the US.

    Liberty and JUSTICE for all...

    Like the Japanese camps were back during WWII, I'm sure back then a lot of Americans approved of them, but then again Americans once approved of slavery, segregation etc etc etc.

    In a few years, most of you who think Guantanamo Bay is OK, will be ashamed, like you were when you held pro segregation rallies in the 60's. Remember those fun times?

    Now remember how dumb you feel now?

    January 21, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Save My Hard Earned $$

    Hang em high first, then you have my blessing to close Gitmo!

    January 21, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. Bobbie in Maryland

    These people are human beings, & must be treated as such! We should not stoop to the level of the terrorists, or we are no better than they. This country STANDS for something!

    January 21, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. joanne hall

    If only people who had toured thisb facility and witnessed techniques of "questioning"n and read the cases, I think most US citizens seeing all of this would say
    "close this–It is not whatwe are about".- think there should also be prosecution–accountability of the involved Bush administrative personnel who knew. Of toture and those who perpetratee it, even if it climbs to the level of the former president.Perhaps this will become "Gitmogate".
    Joanne in Knoxville TN

    January 21, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    I am all for following the rule of the law....
    I am also for letting go of those that aren't charge....
    I am for holding those that are charged, keeping the 'G' open for them only with strick restraints (honoring International agreements/laws)

    January 21, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. frank castillo

    Now, I understand we can't just close this place down and let everyone just run free, back to their countries. Some individuals put in this holding are actual terrorist. We need to do extensive background checks with the help of their respective countries. To see which have affiliations with terrorism regimes and, or, criminal backgrounds. The biggest mistake that can be maid right now is to just let them all go. I believe this is the most reasonable solution and the ones who truly innocent I apologize to you and your families, we just need to be sure for our security.

    January 21, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. MikeH

    And being a CNN poll means it's slanted in a way to give CNN press opportunity. Look at CNN's previous polling tactics.

    By the way, where's this weeks Sarah Palin story?

    January 21, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. NotNowMooky

    These poll stats are meaningless unless you give us more data. How do the numbers break down along education and social status lines? I'm sure you have that information. My bet is that the less educated a person is the more likely they are to have an absolutist mindset that makes them think we need to keep those bad, bad people in Gitmo. Where as wiser minds may realize we must be what we want others to be.

    January 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. John

    shut it down

    January 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Gitmo gotta go!

    If (excuse me, I meant WHEN) other countries maintain those types of facilities, the USA is the first to get on their case about it.

    We can not be hypocritical regarding Prisoners of War, which is what the detainees really are. Fancy phrases like "enemy combatant" are horse hockey.

    We were waging a war (an invasion), caught these guys and placed them in a prisoner of war camp. Same as HItler. Same as Stalin. Same as Napoleon.

    Time to close it. It symbolizes the worst of American military behavior.

    January 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. close the sucker

    Like all of Bush's other blustering, this hurts our safety more than it helps it. Close it down and sell the land to Cuba!

    Obama is roaring out of the gate like a lion. Fantastic!

    January 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. Craig

    The time has come to close the U.S. Concentration Camp! Bravo!

    January 21, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. dr.mimi de la cruz

    TORTURE BY OTHER NATIONS IS A CRIME.

    HOW IS IT THAT ITS OK FOR US TO TORTURE OTHERS ????

    WE SHOULD BE MORE CAREFUL AS A PEOPLE & AS A NATION.

    WE BECOME WHAT WE DO. A CHILD MOLESTER IS A CHILD

    MOLESTER BECAUSE HE OR SHE MOLESTS CHILDREN.

    IN MY HUMBLE OPINION THOSE WHO SUPPORT TORTURE

    UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN NAZIS.

    January 21, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Willy Brown

    Don't do it. Don't bring these thugs on American soil. The cost would skyrockret. Drop them off in the sands of the Middle East.

    January 21, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Debi

    Guantanamo Bay is a disgrace to America. This among other really ignorant things that George Bush did has made the United States so much more UNSAFE. After this, how can we ever be expected to be trusted throughout the world? What Geo. Bush has done to the U.S. is disgusting and is something for which we will be paying for dearly for many years, if not generations to come. How can anyone justify in their right mind treating other human beings like animals especially when they can't even be connected to 9/11. Instead Bush should have found BenLadin like he promised. Just another lie from the FORMER President – thank god he's gone. Maybe he'll travel out of the US and get arrested for his war crimes, I can hope can't I?

    January 21, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Eric

    I think everyone who opposes closing the prison should be declared "enemy combatants" and be packed up and shipped there without a trial. Maybe then they will learn enough appreciation for the 4th amendment that they might change their minds.

    January 21, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. Tony

    Go ahead let them go. But I don't wanna here any complaining when they get caught later trying to blow something up. And the first person who says or even thinks "Maybe if we hadn't illegally imprisoned them they wouldn't want to blow us up." is an IDIOT! These people don't care who our leader is or whether or not they were held captive. They still want to kill us all. This is fact!

    January 21, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  20. wishing

    Split? What, are you crazy? Explain to people why it is wrong, illegal and extra-constitutional to do what they are doing there.

    Americans typically don't read papers, especially don't read magazines or editorials, and listen to blow-head GOP talking heads on the radio. It's a wonder we still have a constitution.

    You let Obama, Biden and even McCain explain on nationwide TV why what we have done is wrong, on so many levels, and the American people will be ashamed they let it go on for as long as they did.

    January 21, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  21. Alex

    The more truth that comes out about this hellhole, the more Americans will see that the Bush/Cheney view of justice, at home and abroad is a total sham! Give these people their day in court and let the cards fall where they may lie... And just as importantly, get the ball rolling on investigating the legality of these detentions and the legality of "interrogation techniques" (i.e. TORTURE: let's not just talk about waterboarding, but stress positions [read: crucifixions], endless sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, beatings, extreme isolation and other tactics that bring about great physical and mental damage). Seeing as the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Sen. McCain, just signed off on a report that states that the instruction to torture detainees came from as high as Bush and Rumsfeld, it's hardly a partisan complaint to suggest that these two, and many others, are probably open to a multitude of criminal charges. These charges must be prosecuted!

    January 21, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  22. shoegazer

    Close the place,those who need to tried can be,those being held without charges or access to habeas corpus should be dealt with accordingly.

    January 21, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Darryl

    For those who are in favour sent the terrorists to their neighborhood police cells.

    January 21, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. jay howard

    This travesty must be closed and bulldozed into the ground. This evil place serves as a constant reminded that the Bush Administration was not interested in justice but in appearance of justice while he tortured inmates and abused their human rights. If he had had any honesty he would have put a bullet in the back of their head and skipped the sham trials.

    January 21, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  25. Chris from NY

    Closing Guantanamo does not mean setting terrorists free. There's a difference between the two. Obama administration asked for a stay on the trials because of the need to sort out who is who and where they go. But to hold someone indefinitely on suspicion of something, when you don't have any real evidence to charge or convict them, is inexcusable. We need to find out who is guilty and charge them. We did so in the first world trade center attack. And those we can't charge send them home or anywhere else that wants them. But don't lock someone up forever because you are afraid of what they might do but on something they actually did.

    January 21, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
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