President Obama is accelerating plans to close down Guantanamo Bay, but a poll from Rasmussen Reports indicates that voters are none too pleased about Obama’s goal.
In a survey conducted from Jan. 15-16 of 800 likely voters, Rasmussen Reports found that 53 percent of respondents do not approve of the plan to close Guantanamo Bay, and only 29 percent support Obama’s aggressive moves. Nineteen percent of the respondents are still undecided.
While the 29 percent approval actually represents an increase of 6 percentage points since the survey was last conducted in May 2014, the overall trend has been declining.
At the beginning of 2009, 44 percent of likely voters supported closing the prison. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level. But regardless of public opinion, it’s unlikely that Obama will change his views any time soon. In the meantime, the only thing holding him back has been a vigilant Congress, which has repeatedly spurned his advances.
In an effort to put to rest some of the objections coming primarily from the Republican side, the Obama administration has stuck by the claim that only 6 percent of former Guantanamo detainees now fight for the enemy.
However, retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen on Saturday told Fox News Insider that “There’s absolutely no way it’s 6-percent…I tell you the numbers have got to be at least 50-percent.” Berntsen further took issue with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who has maintained that keeping prisoners locked up in Guantanamo Bay continues to spur more acts of terrorism.
Instead, according to Berntsen, “These guys that we released, the leaders of the Taliban, to Qatar, they are able to communicate with their people, inspire their people, keep the movement going. And Americans are still fighting on the ground there.”
Although Obama has publicly opposed Congress on this issue, he has been cautious in allowing outside pressure to influence the process. At the behest of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama promised to prioritize the release of the last British resident left in Guantanamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, who has been held since 2002. Cameron has made the exact same, unsuccessful request previously, leaving some confused as to the timeline. (RELATED: David Cameron Prepares To Ask Obama For The Last Brit Left In Guantanamo)
“They can do nothing but wait,” David Remes, a Washington-based human-rights lawyer, told the BBC. “One detainee told me that patience was their only weapon.”