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. Liberals hate themselves

    Smart. Bring the terrorist to prisons on the mainland. Then those prisons will be targets and the communities around them endangered. Obama's luster is starting to fade.

    January 21, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  2. JK Ashburn, VA

    Move slowly. They are going to need someplace to put all of the crooked members of Congress. And, instead of using water for waterboarding, they should use Ethanol. Poetic justice for those crooks.

    January 21, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. john w

    send them to washington d.c. they would fit right in

    January 21, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Samuel

    Just close that place ... and it is a simple case: inmates inside are either guilty or not guilty – if guilty punish them according to Geneve conventions, if not guilty let them go. But dont keep people in this torture house without charges. WE ARE A NATION OF LAW AND ORDER!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  5. Tia

    Guantanamo needs to close. You cant detain someone and not charge them with a crime. It's not right. I think that If Gitmo stays open it needs to be monitored. The last thing that we need is for people to be molested and abused in the name of "protecting our country" I dont believe in that crap! Though if you wanted to use that place for real terrorists...child molesters and rapists then by all means!!!!!!

    January 21, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. BB

    Polls Schmolls – and Wolf Blitzer needs to retire. He's a monotone. Dobbs and Brown are drama queens that need to tone down and actually do something instead of just complaining about what is wrong from the warmth of a studio.

    January 21, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Simmy

    Find a more humane solution; decide on the type punishments required for each crime; follow the letter of the law, and shut it down. There is always another way.

    January 21, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Rusty

    What a shame that we're going to let a bunch of terrorists and criminals loose. These people will be killing our Soldiers in Iraq or Afganistan in very short order. Change we can believe in, huh?

    January 21, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Mari

    Problem has been that the LAWS of the United States Constitution have been BROKEN at Guantanamo!

    Bush ALLOWED torture and when he did he lost the RESPECT of the World!

    IT IS A WELL DOCUMENTED ......FACT...... THAT TORTURE DOES NOT PRODUCE GOOD INTELLIGENCE!

    And the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was one of the authors of the Geneva Convention where FREE Nations, united to SAY NO MORE! To torture of POWs!

    Guantanamo must be resolved, an investigation must take place and then justice must be done for the prisoners!

    IF WE ALLOW TORTURE, IS WE VIOLATE OUR OWN MORALS AND LAWS.......... WE ARE NO........ BETTER THAN THE TERRORISTS!

    January 21, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. David Newport, OR

    Guantanamo will go down in history right along side the Japanese internment camps...such a proud moment in our history. Wasn't it just last year that our Gov't finally appologized to the survivors? Too bad about the 95% that had died throughout the years.

    If these people are guilty, I find it difficult to imagine not being able to try them in the last 7 years.

    January 21, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Honorable Kansas Vet

    Gitmo needs to be closed, it has become tarnished, it has been misused by the past administration. It does not represent the principles of the United States.The individuals held within Gitmo are either crimminals, POW or neither. Neither needs to be released before more damage is done, POWs need to be placed in facilities that are maintained inaccordance with international law and treaties. Individuals that are crimminals need to be placed on trial in the location of their crimes

    January 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Sue

    Close it, and then go after the torturers.

    January 21, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. Goldn

    If Present Obama doesn't have a problem with it then neither do I. "It is time to put awat childish things."

    January 21, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. Steve

    It needs to be closed, as soon as possible. It's time for us to reclaim our moral standing in the world.

    January 21, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    This is a prison for people who have not had their day in court.

    As much as we might scorn these people, how can we call ourselves a democracy if they don't get their day in court?

    By keeping them imprisoned indefinitely, are we not betraying the very ethics/morals/laws we want to be identified with here in America?

    January 21, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  16. Zack

    Keep Gitmo Open –

    Obama is naive? You suggest that you somehow have greater knowledge of the relevant facts than the president and are capable of making a more informed judgment. What's your security clearance?

    As another poster commented, the American public knows virtually nothing about Gitmo or its prisoners. Probably the most extensive glimpse the average American citizen has managed was during Moore's Sicko film...which had no direct relation to Gitmo.

    The only argument most of us are capable of making with any shred of intellectual honesty is morally based. Either you feel torture, rendition, and circumventing US and international law is acceptable, or you believe these actions are totally contrary to deeply held American principles of liberty and justice and shame our nation.

    David Foster Wallace once posited that living in a such a noble and decent nation might have an acceptable cost. We accept tens of thousands of avoidable deaths every year simply for the convenience of driving vehicles, so why are we not willing to understand that America will always have enemies intent on committing violent acts, and as such our freedom will come at a cost. Is our uncommon virtue worth so little that we would sacrifice it to potentially save relatively few lives?

    January 21, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. Woody

    These bad guys and the innocents should be sent back to thier home countries to be disposed of if they want them or not. If they wont take them then we do a fly over and boot em out with or with out a chute. We tax payers dont need this drain on our resources and our guardsmen need to be home with thier families. The faster we get rid of the hold over mess, from the bush /cheney oil war, the better.

    January 21, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  18. mike

    I say put them in the general population at Pelican Bay.

    Problem solved.

    January 21, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. Marc

    Close GITMO pure and simple would be a big stupidity.
    While there are evidences that some of the people down there HAVE to be locked up for a long time, there are no evidences (that can be held in a legitimate court and not the kangaroo ones that the Supreme Court ordered Bush to close) against some of the other detainees.
    Thus there's the need of a personnal cheking on everyone's files and determinate who's going to face charges (and which ones), who's going to be deported (and to where) and who's going to be set free.
    That's why the new Administration set up a 120 days 'stand' on the trials that were already happening.

    January 21, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. Brad

    They have had these people for years and don't have enough evidence to bring charges. At this point, Bush has just been holding them because he had no other choice – he seriously screwed up.

    Violating habeas corpus rights diminishes us as a nation. It destroys America by rotting our very foundation. What are we if not a nation of laws? If we don't give people basic human rights, we are no better than the terrorists we portend to fight. If we have evidence against these people, it's time to bring charges. If not, we owe them an apology.

    "Terrorists" are scary, but they cannot destroy America. But if we don't watch it, people like George Bush will do it for them.

    January 21, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. Close it!

    Close Gitmo, either try and convict the prisoners or release them. This whole thing was straight out of Kafka – unAmerican to put it mildly. Sell the land to Cuba.

    Wow, Obama is coming out of the gate like a lion. Fantastic first day!!

    January 21, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. Independant Thinker

    This is Obama's 1st order of business?????

    It's the ECONOMY stupid !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  23. NorCalGal

    Close it, burn it! The USA cannot and should not put torchur to our name.

    WE cannot give up our ideals as a nation, if we do then the talibon and other terrorists who are trying to intimidate us scores a victory.

    January 21, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  24. Once you vote Black

    My question is what do we do to make whole the ones who did nothing. Like if they were not liked in there homeland so they were given to us because we paid for them then what do we do once they are free? If we do nothing what will they do to us? Its like the slave trade. Africans sold Africans they did not like to the US. Well we had a plan for them once they got here. But with this group what is the plan?

    January 21, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Watson

    You sheople are naive beyond belief. Our rules of law are meaningless to these people. You want to close Gitmo?? Shoot them and throw them in the ocean, it'll save us money. Only when America wakes up and realizes the mind of the enemy will we defeat terrorism.

    January 21, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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