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Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose GITMO Transfer

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)
A new poll released by Gallup shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose the idea of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and moving terrorist suspects held there to prisons in the U.S.

This may be problematic for President Obama, who plans to do just that. Earlier this week, it was announced that the federal government would acquire the Thomson Correctional Center (pictured at left), an underused state prison in the rural town of Thomson, Illinois, and use it to hold Guantanamo Bay detainees as well as federal prisoners.

Sixty-four percent of Americans said they opposed the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons, and only 30 percent of Americans said they supported it. These numbers have remained fairly constant since May, when 32 percent believed detainees should be transferred to the U.S. and 65 percent did not.

The plan gets the most support from Democrats: 50 percent of Democrats supported the transfer, compared to 28 percent of Independents and only eight percent of Republicans.

Officials from Thomson have reportedly come out in favor of Obama's plan to transfer detainees there, citing the fact that it would boost the economy and create jobs. Republican lawmakers, however, have been very vocal about their opposition to the proposed plan.

"The administration has failed to explain how transferring terrorists to Gitmo North will make Americans safer than keeping terrorists off of our shores in the secure facility in Cuba," Republican senator from Kentucky Mitch McConnell said, as noted in the poll release.

When Mr. Obama took office, he said that he intended to close the Guantanamo Bay facility by January 2010. The administration has not released a timeline for the proposed transfer of detainees to Illinois, but the president has stated that he will miss his original deadline. Congress must approve the transfer; given the significant opposition to the plan, a fight seems likely.

The poll was conducted from November 20-22, before the administration announced a specific destination for the detainees.

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