January 21st, 2009
05:33 PM ET
11 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. AP

    This is ridiculous. If Obama wants to close Guantanamo Bay prison he should ensure the detainees are not granted a trial here in US. It should be in an International Court of Law...

    January 21, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. tmess

    The problem with Gitmo is that, having seized the malcontents of other countries who were more threats to their own governments than to us, nobody is going to be willing to take some of these folks back.

    I don't know what we can do with them once it is determined that they have committed no crimes against the U.S.

    Where do we send them? What do we do with them if we can't find anyplace to send them? This problem is similar to the one we faced in the 1980s when Cuba used the Mariel boatlift to slip in some low-level criminals with the vast majority of legitimate refugees. We were stuck housing them in then-INS detention facilities for years because they weren't safe to release on the streets but couldn't be deported because Cuba refused to take them back.

    January 21, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. Put down the "Change" kool Aid

    Lets close Guantanamo Bay and put all the Prisoners in Obamas backyard in Chicago. They will fit right in with all the criminal politicians that come out of that city. Problem Solved

    January 21, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. California Gold

    I'm eager for this matter to be addressed and a legal resolution made. It was a popular campaign issue for President Obama and it's appropriate to get the ball rolling now rather than later.

    January 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  5. KB, CO

    When fear is in the air people's morals and good judgment go out the window. Want proof just look at our hasty fear guided decisions when we attacked Iraq

    1.Not enough troops sent
    2.poor intelligence {W.M.D's not found}
    3.lack of well armored vehicles
    4.lack of infinity body armor
    5.lack of international support
    6.No exit strategy
    And then to put the cherry on top, We compromised our own ethical treatment of prisoners. and that's putting it mildly

    Let's start obeying the rule of law. Our Law

    January 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Sye the Pychic

    I could fill the place with crooks from the last administration,dont close it just yet.

    January 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Andy - Atlanta, GA

    Americans are split on this because they are uninformed. If everyone had a good idea of what goes on there, I'm sure these numbers would be very different.

    This is one of those decisions that we should leave to government, since the public cannot see the true picture of what it is all about.

    January 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. texas gop

    where are they going? France ,England, Germany right,, THE U.S.A.

    KEEP IT OPEN or put them in the White House with Pres Obama and the other Dems

    January 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. The Spinach Admirer

    We don't know who is being held captive there. We don't know what they did. We don't know what evidence there is against them. We are asked to believe that the Bush Administration did the right thing by imprisoning them there. We don't believe anything else the Bush Administration said, and I am not at all happy with the existence of Guantanamo prison. I also wonder what other unknown prisons we are running around the world and who is in them too.

    January 21, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. ck

    Gosh...

    I never realized that if we simply ask politely the terror suspects will tell us everything we need to know.

    Who knew???

    Get ready people.... we are in for serious trouble.

    January 21, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Send them to Illinoi or Hawaii. Australia doesn't want them. Britian has enough of them to keep them occupied for a lifetime. He is the President and a bright one at that so surely he has alot of bright ideas.

    January 21, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  12. Keep Gitmo Open

    I think it is naive to close Gitmo. Obama will change his mind about this once he learns all the facts.

    January 21, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. Palin Fan

    Great, the world is going to love us for this. Please send them to the states of the senators that support this order.

    January 21, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. R

    closing them is fine, but where is he going to put them?

    January 21, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. cabianni

    Closing Guantanamo could present big political problems for Obama. Sending high profile terrorists back to a country where they resume killing US troops or committing other terrorist acts will reflect very badly on Obama. Bringing genuine terrorists to the US and trying them under our laws with expensive defense attorneys and many of them winning their freedom due to a judicial system that was set up for criminals not terrorists will reflect bacly on Obama. Releasing terrorists in this country due to the same judicial system will be a catastrophe for Obama. This is a NO WIN situation for him

    January 21, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. Canuck

    close it and send them somewhere worse. like their home countries.

    January 21, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Rick

    And democrats wonder why people don't trust them on national security issues.

    January 21, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    They are prisoners of war (aren't they), and they should be treated as prisoners of war (and released if the "war" in Afghanistan should ever end). By most accounts we did not treat them properly as prisoners of war. Prisoners of war have rights – we are guilty of war crimes.

    If they are not prisoners of war, but rather terrorists, then they should have been charged and tried for murder immediately upon capture. So, in either case, the United States Government is guilty of human rights abuses. There is no way around this folks.

    January 21, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. LisaB

    Bush and Cheney can shack up there and "torture" each other.

    January 21, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. ran

    Keep it open or close it which ever; but whatever is done those there need to be treated with in the law. Even POWS get rights. I believe by closing it it will send a clear message to the world we will not torture people.

    January 21, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. Diana Ewing NJ

    Closing Guantanamo and sending only those who need to be locked up and tried....to Texas where Pres. Bush can keep an eye on them

    January 21, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. JFK

    Whether you support to close it or leave it open, the time has come to get rid of GITMO. It serves as a painful reminder of the last 8 years of blunders, poor leadership, a stained American reputation, and outright lawlessness of the American legal system. Good bye and good riddance! Now maybe we can actually find Osama Bin Laden?!

    January 21, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. OFL

    Either the reporting is incomplete or the poll was incomplete. The biggest question is what to do with the detainees? Does the possibility of shipping them to the continental US sways the responders in way or the other? Does the possibility of releasing them to their deaths sways the responders one way or the other? Does the possibility of having them kill US citizens and innocent civilians in suicide attacks sways the responders one way or the other? If not then the headline is correct. If it does than the headline in wrong.

    January 21, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. Larry C. in Houston TX

    everyone asks the same question.....where are they going to put them ?? .....Answer : since no country wants them ie : europe / canada & etc etc.....and the u.s. doesn't either..... If these are the same people that was responsible for 911, then the best thing would be to put them in front of a firing line, and totally eliminate the problem, not to mention saving taxpayers money !!

    January 21, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. capnmike

    What are ya going to do with these people?. These aren't some nice innocent guy who was sitting home watching TV when the soldiers burst in and arrested him...these are fanatics who are committed to killing Americans and destroying our country in the name of their sick religion.
    Gitmo should not be closed.

    January 21, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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