‘War crime’: 56% of Americans oppose closing Guantanamo Bay prison – poll

File photo: US Navy guards escort a detainee through Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay naval base © Reuters
As the Obama administration continues its struggle with Congress to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, a new poll released shows more than half of Americans would rather keep it open.

While 40 percent responded saying they wanted the center closed and three percent had no opinion, 56 percent of Americans believe the prison should continue to operate, according to a CNN/ORC poll, opposing a long-standing goal of the Obama administration. 

The poll of 1,0001 Americans came out just two weeks after President Obama sent his plans to close the prison to Congress in an attempt to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise. Congress quickly rejected the proposals.

Under Obama’s plan, 35 of the 91 current prisoners would be transferred to other countries in the coming months, leaving dozens of detainees either facing trial by military commission or being designated too dangerous to release despite not facing charges. The detainees would be transferred to a US facility under the White House proposal.

Republican lawmakers rejected the plan, arguing it skimped on details and raised the possibilities of having dangerous terrorists on US soil.

House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) said that the GOP is “preparing our legal challenge” should Obama try and move detainees to federal prisons, according to Associated Press.

"These detainees cannot come to American soil," Ryan said, reported AP.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called on Congress to change the law to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred to the US.

A special report by Reuters found that it was the Pentagon that often worked against the Obama Administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay Prison.

“To slow prisoner transfers, Pentagon officials have refused to provide photographs, complete medical records and other basic documentation to foreign governments willing to take detainees,” administration officials told Reuters.

“They have made it increasingly difficult for foreign delegations to visit Guantanamo, limited the time foreign officials can interview detainees and barred delegations from spending the night at Guantanamo,” they added.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine told RT it wasn’t just the Pentagon that worked against the Obama Administration’s goal, but other government agencies as well.

“Within the US government you have different agencies they have different interests. You have a war party for example,” said vanden Heuvel. “The CIA has effectively blocked, in fact, obstructed the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2012.”

Vanden Heuvel said the summary report has been released, but 6,000 pages still sit in a vault, and it is vital to expose these institutions which are “stigmatizing America and fueling more terrorism by their behavior.”

“That report shows that the CIA use of torture was ineffective, not only immoral, and I think that is something people should know. How is it the related to Guantanamo? Guantanamo is not just about the prison it is about the use of torture,“ vanden Heuvel explained.

“So it is Guantanamo but at the heart of Guantanamo is also the issue is torture. Torture should not be part of a policy. It is a war crime,” she added.

There are currently 91 detainees remaining at the facility, down from 242 at the start of Obama first term, and down from almost 800 detainees in 2002.