January 21st, 2009
05:33 PM ET
9 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. Judith

    This is simply a symbolic gesture from an administration where we can expect a plethora of style over substance. Guantanamo is an important facility and those who are incarcerated there are dangerous people. We already know that dozens who have been released have already taken up arms and will harm Americans if they have the chance.

    Obama is wasting no time showing the world that he intends to turn this nation into a paper tiger.

    January 21, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse NY

    So where do the prisoners go? It's proven that many who have been released have committed violence again against Americans and others. Another poorly thought out Obama policy.

    January 21, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Herald and Kumar

    FINALLY!

    January 21, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. Dick c.

    IF he lets one of these sub animals loose and they return to damage to us......someone will return the favor.

    January 21, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. IsaacTheForcedCatholic

    American are split? I am not suprised, after all these are the people who voted for Bush... TWICE! Enough said.

    January 21, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Texas Teacher

    They will not simply be tossed out on the street! Come on, People! Use that brain between your ears! Obama has said that no one will be released until he has a chance to review the situation fully. Trust me, Obama is way too smart to do the stupid things Bush is known for! And he has surrounded himself with some of the best minds of today! :) He will do just fine... thank you very much!

    January 21, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Karen - Missouri

    The damage is done...Bush made a mockery of Gitmo...time to move on and close it.

    January 21, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. northdakotasmarts

    We should not close down the facility we need a place to store all these criminals that we catch committing war crimes within the United Nations Over in cuba is a perfect place for them no wear near the home for the FREE AND THE BRAVE! Keep them and the terrorists the HELL OUT OF OUR COUNTRY! Last thing we need is for them to ecape at a military base and get there hands on something that could cause our country even greater problem! It could happen! Lets not be stupid!

    January 21, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. Have Gitmo Closed

    It is misguided to believe that Gitmo is "protecting" us from terrorists.

    -Consider how many people have been released from Gitmo charged with nothing.
    -Consider how long those people were held in Gitmo charged with nothing before being released.

    Then consider is this what America is supposed to be about? Hmmm... sounds like something that a two-bit dictatorship does. Rule of law is what is supposed to be what the United States of America follows. If you don't see Gitmo as the direct opposite of that... please move to Crawford, TX so you can be by the poster child of the policies you might like.

    And I think some people are misinformed when they that think for some reason when others are advocating the closure of Guantanamo Bay that they mean free the people that are held there. They mean actually charge them with something, take them to trail, if it is warranted, execute them (although that would most likely make them martyrs in the eyes of like minded folks), but don't just hold them there, charged with nothing for 4... or 5... or 6... or 7 years... now that's Un-American.

    January 21, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. Virginia Republican

    I don't care what they do with Gitmo, as long as they do something with the detainees (terrorists) that are down there. They don't deserve any trials because some of them were part of the group that authorized and carried out the slaughter of over 2,000 people on 9/11. It has been cited that several of these "detainees" have gone back to terrorism after release. Release them and we will pay.

    January 21, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. Joseph

    Anyone wondering about Guantanamo should see the movie/documentary, "Taxi to the Darkside". It's just been released on DVD, and btw, is nominated for an Oscar this year. Very compelling.

    January 21, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Kay

    Suppose you were detained there for years and did absolutely nothing against the United States. If and when you were released, would you now hate the U.S? My guess is if you weren't a member of a terrorist cell then, you would be now. I believe we should detain people who are a threat to the United States, but charges should be filed and the letter of the law should be followed. By creating Guantanamo we may have inadvertently created more terrorists anxious to strike against the U.S.

    January 21, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. Dem in Hawaii

    We need to lead by example and by following the law. Not reinventing the law to fit what some people want it to say. The people their deserve their day in court and if they are found guilty, then they should be appropriately sentenced. Holding people without charge is exactly what the British were doing to our forefathers. I also hope we see the end of an era where torture is banned. When we lower our standards to those of terrorists, then we can no longer claim that we are the international leader on human rights. Best wishes and God Bless America.

    January 21, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    If we want a new relationship with the Middle East, then we have to change the way we do business. Bush's way has failed! Bin Laden is still at large, and we have done nothing but foment hatred in that part of the world.

    Give Obama a chance before you try to crucify him on the white house lawn! Sounds like many of you are simply foaming at the mouth to do so! Careful, your white sheets and cone hats are showing! :)

    January 21, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. Tony

    Let's not kid ourselves, Soldiers, not Bush, arrested these people. They are all there for a reason. The justice system sometimes moves slow even when it comes to Americans. Are we to let them post bail on good faith and have them plan another terrorist attack? Yeah, that guy is there, along with someone who killed an American Soldier. They didn't notify the 3,000 on 9/11, they didn't notify the 4,000+ that have been killed afterwards. Let them go through the process. The naive promises of the campaigns are about to be busted now that reality is taking hold.

    January 21, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. Greg Ebert, Portland, OR

    Close the whole facility, prison AND military base. This is CUBAN soil, not American soil. How would everyone feel if Cuba maintained a military base on US soil ? It's ridiculous, no matter which foot the shoe is on (heh-heh, take the shoe off and throw it at.....oh, never mind, he's finally gone...)

    As far as where to put the detainees, there are thousands of inmates in US custody who are far more dangerous (yes, they have been TRIED AND CONVICTED), and they are safely contained. There's no credible argument that we are any safer with the Gitmo detainees away from US soil.

    The ONLY, and I repeat, the ONLY reason prisoners are kept at Gitmo is because they are not subject to the rule of law on US soil, ie due process and torture.

    January 21, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. A.M.I

    If GITMO closes then everyone that perished in the attacks of 9/11 would have died in VAIN. This would be worst than 9/11 itself. If Mr. Obama succeeds in this plan, then I HAS AN AMERICAN CALL FOR THE IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT OF MR. OBAMA

    January 21, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  18. Bud

    Creating Guantanamo was a big mistake and gave the world a "Lightning Rod" for our poor execution of OUR wars. We needn't have created this problem and we absolutely set a bad example by eliminating any justice from the equation. Allowing some access to evaluating and prosecuting these "soldiers" was avoided and these bad guys have simply sit in jail for all these years without regard to what they did or didn't do. This was justice denied by any standard. Release them, try them in a valid court where evidence and testimony rules or shoot the terrorists, but let's not pretend we are following some sort of bastardized American justice by simply jailing these people in Cuba. Guantanamo is and was a bad BUSH idea. Out of Sight and Mind is NOT A RULE OF LAW!

    January 21, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Pete Turner

    Does anybody think that these prisoners are at Gitmo are nice guys? Every one of them are there for being TERRORISTS and most of them have gone out of their way to kill Americans and if they are released will go right back to killing Americans.

    The do-gooders will make a lot of fuss about this but these are BAD people and are in Gitmo for a reason.

    Closing Gitmo will be a mistake.

    January 21, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  20. Stu-Florida

    This is where they should have been put AFTER they were convicted. Then they could complain about not having crunchy peanut butter, cable TV Playboy Magazine and a free college education.

    This base must remain open. It's a great strategic location.

    January 21, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Not even for dog catcher

    Spinach chin, sorry genius, these cretins were captured on the battlefield and not taken off of mainstreet or our neighborhoods.

    Close it down and send these nice people to liberal enclaves who support them being let out and see how much you whiney liberals start begging for them to be captured AGAIN.

    Don't care what the public thinks at all as you are media driven sheep, ask a soldier if they should be let go and you will get a different answer.

    January 21, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. tim

    3 questions:
    1. Who is going to pay for all of this, closing mess? all americans.
    2. What state is he going to force, for the big relocation? I hope its not my state.
    3. Will we be safer when it closes? My guess, No.

    January 21, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Ken in NC

    While some want Gitmo closed, all want Justice so why not satisfy both. Take them all out to sea. Place them in capsized boats captured from Cubans with lots of spam and set them free.

    January 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. Planting The Evidence

    Send them to Afghanistan. They can leave that god forsaken place and return to their homelands. If they join the Taliban, we can kill them. I

    January 21, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. Mitchell from MS

    What is closing this prison going to slove? Absolutley nothing! Those caught on the battlefield trying to kill US soilders will just be sent to a differnet prison.

    Of course I would not expect you liberals to understand anything dealing with honor, courage, or respect. You should be shaking the hands and thanking the troops for their sacrifices they make for you.

    Then again I don't think liberals would fight if a terrorist came to their house and slapped them on their front lawn.

    January 21, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6