According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, members of the president’s party now support keeping the prison open apparently because the president has failed to transfer the 166 terrorism detainees to prisons in the United States.
In November 2009, after Obama vowed to close Guantanamo, 59 percent of Democrats approved of the decision, according to Pew.
Then in February 2012, a Washington Post/ABC News poll, cited by Pew, showed that roughly the same percentage of Democrats approved of keeping the institution open, at 61 percent.
“By contrast, Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition to closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay,” Pew said. “In 2009, Republicans disapproved of Obama’s plan to close the prison camp by a 75%-18% margin. In early 2012, a similarly large majority approved of the decision to keep Guantanamo open (79% approve).”
“[Guantanamo] has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” Obama said. “As president, I have tried to close GTMO.”
“Given my administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened,” he said.
“Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from GTMO,” Obama said. “I know the politics are hard. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it.”
The poll also found that the number of Independents supporting keeping the prison open has increased. In 2009 a small majority of Independents opposed closing the base at 53 percent. In 2012, 73 percent approved of the decision to keep it open.
“Public opinion has not always translated into Obama getting the Democratic votes he needed on Capitol Hill to fulfill his longstanding promise to close Guantanamo– an illustration of the ‘hard’ politics to which he referred in his speech,” Pew said.