President Obama is out-of-step with voters in his push to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison and bring terrorist detainees to stateside prisons, according to a new survey.
Majorities of likely voters want Guantanamo Bay to remain open and do not believe that detainees should be transferred to the United States, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll that was conducted following Obama’s announcement of his closure plan for the prison Tuesday.
The plan, developed by the Pentagon, would involve moving between 30 and 60 detainees deemed too dangerous to release to stateside prisons. The remainder of the 91 prisoners at Guantanamo would be transferred to other countries.
The poll, released Thursday, found that 56 percent of likely voters want Guantanamo Bay to remain open. Identical shares also oppose detainees being transferred to U.S. prisons and believe that releasing prisoners from Guantanamo has rendered the U.S. less safe.
Obama claimed during remarks announcing the plan that Guantanamo “undermines” the country’s national security.
“It’s been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security,” Obama said from the White House. “It undermines it.”
A detainee released from Guantanamo in 2012, Ibrahim al-Qosi, has recently reemerged as a senior leader of the al Qaeda branch in Yemen.
While Republicans are more opposed to closing the prison, the Rasmussen survey found that more than one-third of Democrats also do not believe that Guantanamo should be closed. Four-in-10 Democrats are averse to transferring Guantanamo prisoners to stateside detention facilities.
Past polling has shown opposition to the closure of Guantanamo, which the president has been trying to accomplish since he took office. A YouGov poll published last July found that 50 percent of U.S. adults wanted the government to continue to operate the prison, while 27 percent wanted it to be shut down. Twenty-three percent were uncertain of their position.
Obama faces hurdles in his push to close Guantanamo Bay, as Republicans in Congress oppose his proposal. Congress has blocked the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the United States by law since 2010.
Still, the president has not ruled out using executive action to close the military prison.