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. Rick

    Obama said he was going to close it, so close it and send those people to chicago or california.

    January 21, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Jen, Philadelphia

    If the problem is where to put the people, I suggest we cut a hole in the fence and let them loose in Cuba. Castro was nice enough to empty his prisons and send them to us in the 70's, let's return the favor!

    January 21, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. Sam Donnelson

    Gitmo is and always has been there for a reason. The general public, is either too naive, or just uninterested in knowing the real truth as to why we need Gitmo. Most I would think, can not handle the truth.

    January 21, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  4. blackhat

    Yea baby, lets close it! But too before that great day lets make sure everyone knows where the inmates are going. New York, District of Columbia or California or all of the above. Then and only then should it be discussed. 98% of Americans want them to be turned over to their parent nation. Thats fair. So before you put the cart in front of the mules get the logistics straight.

    January 21, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  5. eyesWIDEopen

    The Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp is a living example of how far we, as a nation, have fallen. If even a fraction of what is alleged to have happened there actually took place, and AMERICAN servicemen have confirmed some of the worst allegations, then it must be razed – ASAP.

    January 21, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  6. thanos

    Good explanation Chris from NY. For some odd reason uninformed people think they're going to close the facility and just let everyone there run free. Not the case at all. The new administration has already said its going to move some of the prisioners to other bases and make determinations on those who are just being held for the sake of it.

    January 21, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  7. Sweet music to Al Qaeda's ears....

    Why should we detain the 9/11 terrorists? What did they do to us?
    Let's serve them coffe and cake in the Oval Office....

    Now they have absolutely nothing to fear.....watch out now.

    January 21, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  8. Johno

    We're either a nation of laws or a nation of thugs. George W was a thug who operated on "if we arrested you, you must be guilty". There are rules and international laws about how prisoners are to be treated. Obama – wisely – is following them.

    The good news: if the prisoners are worth keeping, they'll spend their allotted time rotting in jail. The better news: if we have no basis for keeping them (other than "if we arrested you, you must be guilty") then we no longer need to pay to keep them locked up.

    January 21, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  9. tony

    There is a reason Gitmo is open, no other country wants the terrorists. This will be a dilema

    January 21, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. Penn Voter

    Let's take a poll and whereever the majority of the people, supporting the shut down of Gitmo, resident, let us relocate the Gitmo operation. If that is not acceptable, then Central Park is available, we can put them there !!!!

    January 21, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  11. Loren

    Obama can close the millitary prison and let the detainees live at the White House with him.

    January 21, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. Mike in IL

    Chris from NY is exactly right. Terrorists or not, a lot of them have been there for an extremely long time. They should have been figuring out who should be there, who shouldn't be, and move them along. Holding them there for as long as they have been, regardless, ...there's no excuse.

    January 21, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Larry

    The prisoners that are being held are not crooks,they are not criminals,they are not "them",they are not malcontents ,

    THEY ARE TERRORIST--THAT'S WHY THE TERRORIST ARE THERE !!

    THEY WANT TO KILL PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY !!!!

    January 21, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. JJ

    Prisoners have a right to:
    * hear the evidence against them
    * defend themselves
    * speak to and be represented by an attorney

    Bush's policies were right out of the Nazi Germany, including his policies on "information extraction".

    But did Bush keep us safe?? The only successful large-scale attack on the US in 60 years happened 8 months into W's watch. The only thing Bush was competent at was being wrong.

    January 21, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  15. Mike Dallas

    It is way past time to give them legal representation and have a trial and go from there.

    We cannot hold people for 6 years without legal recourse because someone THINKS they are guilty of a crime. It is not like we have not had prisoners of war before.

    January 21, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  16. just dallas

    IF memory service me correct according to the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903 the Gitmo detention center is in clear violation of said treaty, The American constitution and way of life above reproach. the only thing missing is we people living up to it. of course the base should be closed.

    January 21, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  17. JOE KILOZ

    POLITICAL,,,,,,,,,,,GIMMICK,,,,,,,,,,,,TO,,,,,,,,,,,,,,OUR,,,,,,,,,,,,ENEMIES

    January 21, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. M

    These guys have been trained. They could care less about us. If they dont' go back to thier own country we will be paying for them in our own U.S. prisons. More taxes. How comforting. Keep it open.

    January 21, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. Patrick

    If we close Gitmo it is only logical that some of the terrorists will end up on US soil in prisons here. If they are going to be in prisons why not keep them off our soil. I know it is hard to imagine but what if one of them escaped and then commited a terrorist act here? If this happens it will be on Obama's shoulders. I agree that they should have trials if there is evidence against them and let free if there isn't but if they are found guilty why bring them closer to home? I disagree with Bush, Obama, and McCain on this one who all wanted it closed.

    January 21, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  20. Neutral

    In my opinion closing Gitmo won't make a difference since that would mean creating a new prison to facilitate the terrorists and the policies will most likely remain in tact. All in all closing Gitmo literally means that "We're Moving" and could cost billions in making a new facility. It's really not necessary especially with the economy in turmoil.

    January 21, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  21. believe

    if we don't close it, can we send limbaugh there, just a thought.

    January 21, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. Close it now

    I'm always surprised by the number of Americans who think it's okay we have this prison, yet these are often the same people who complain about other countries human rights violations. Just because WE do it doesn't make it right.

    This is one issue that will define the Obama presidency for me – and many others. This, the Abu Ghraib scandal, and an administration that not only condoned but advocated torture are the reasons I was ashamed to be an American for these past few years. And I'm sure there will be a few of you who read this, just like some people I know, who say this is naive and that we need this prison, and sometimes have to use "extreme measures" to keep safe. My response to you – "those that give up lessential iberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" Ben Franklin. By our behavior, we are just as evil as the terrorists.

    Close Guantanamo now.

    January 21, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  23. Mike

    The issue here has been clearly defined by President Obama. We are a nation founded on principles outlined in our constitution. These principles were founded on the English "Rights of Man" (Magna Carta). These are the principles and core beliefs of our society, and we as Americans are obligated to stand by them. The fact that the previous administration yielded to fear and could not muster the courage to stand behind these American principles is a blemish on our collective national conscience and actually afforded the terrorist networks an ideological victory. The strained relations with our european allies limited our options on the world stage, causing the USA to bear the brunt of our reckless decisions. In a nutshell we let the world down and the world responded in kind.

    Our current president, having taught constitutional law, understands not only the words, but the underlying ideals and principles behind those words. I am profoundly more confident to live in a country that honors those ideals and principles that were gifted upon us by our enlightened forefathers.

    January 21, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  24. Sue

    The UN may be considering charges against Bush and Rumsfeld for breaking international laws regarding torture. Stay tuned!

    January 21, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  25. Mike from Philly

    I say leave it open. The simple reason is that terrorists captured should stay captured as long as terrorism is around. Keep terrorism going? Stay in Guantanamo prison when captured for it.

    January 21, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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