Poll: Keep Gitmo Open, Send Benghazi Suspect There

Image: Poll: Keep Gitmo Open, Send Benghazi Suspect There Camp Delta and Echo at the Joint Task Force detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 06:44 AM

By Elliot Jager

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A majority of Americans polled want the United States to continue holding suspected terrorists at its Guantanamo facility, put other suspects there and keep the prison open rather than move prisoners to penitentiaries on the mainland, according to a Fox News Poll.

Fifty-two percent in the survey wanted Guantanamo to stay open against 36 percent who wanted to close the facility and 12 percent who said they didn't know.

Asked specifically about Ahmed Abu Khattalah, the suspected architect of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, who was apprehended by U.S. special forces, 63 percent said he should face a military tribunal as an enemy combatant.

As to why it took two years to arrest Khattalah, 76 percent of Democrats thought that proved the Obama administration was committed to tracking down terrorists "no matter how long it takes," as opposed to 73 percent of Republicans who said it revealed that capturing those responsible was not a priority.

The poll found that overall support for keeping Guantanamo open has been declining. For instance, a year ago, 81 percent of Republicans wanted it to stay open, now the figure is 69 percent of Republicans. Veterans have been more consistent in wanting the prison to remain functioning by a margin of 63 percent to 32 percent this year and 69 percent to 25 percent last year.

Among other findings, 60 percent disapproved of the president's handling of foreign policy. Eighty percent thought the United States was losing some of its standing in the world. By a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent Americans feel the country is "safer today" because of U.S. military involvement in Iraq. They also think, by a margin of 55 percent to 41 percent, that the president was right to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011.

In other Iraq-related sentiment, most Americans have low hopes that the Baghdad government can overcome the Islamist insurgency. While there is support for U.S. air strikes and commando operations to obstruct the advancing Islamists, there is no majority backing for cooperating with Iran in connection with the situation in Iraq.

The survey was conducted on June 21 to 23 by Democratic and Republican pollsters for Fox News and has a margin of error of 3 points.

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