Since taking office President Obama has signed executive orders eliminating the use of harsh interrogation techniques and ordering the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. While most Americans (76 percent) think the United States will continue fighting the war on terrorism under the Obama administration, there is marked disagreement on what the new executive orders mean for the war.
Some people think Obama's actions represent a "real change" in how the United States will fight the war on terrorism (45 percent), and the same number think they are more "symbolic changes" (45 percent), according to a FOX News poll released Thursday.
Do voters agree with Obama's moves? Nearly half of Americans -- 47 percent -- think the military prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed, up from 22 percent in 2005. Almost as many disagree (45 percent) and think Gitmo should not be closed.
A majority of Democrats (63 percent) think the prison should be closed, while a majority of Republicans (74 percent) think it should stay open. Among independents, views are split 48 percent closed to 45 percent stay open.
Few Americans (12 percent) think closing Gitmo will make the United States safer. In fact, more than twice as many say it will make the country less safe (32 percent). A slim 51 percent majority thinks it won't make much of a difference either way.
Even so, 63 percent think it was a bad idea for President Obama to order the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility before having a plan on where the prisoners would go, including 45 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 84 percent of Republicans.
Where should the prisoners go? Most Americans agree -- not in my backyard. The poll shows a 63 percent majority opposes having detainees moved to prison facilities in their communities. Just over half -- 52 percent -- oppose transferring the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to facilities in the United States, while a large 42 percent minority says yes they should be sent here.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from January 27 to January 28. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Opinions on the use of torture are sharply divided. Forty-three percent of Americans favor allowing the CIA to use torture in extreme circumstances to obtain information from prisoners that "might protect the United States from terrorist attacks" and 48 percent oppose it. These results are consistent with findings from polling conducted in 2003 and 2002.
The number in favor of allowing the use of torture increases to 56 percent when the suspect in custody is Usama bin Laden.
Does torture work? Views are split fairly evenly here too -- 45 percent think the use of torture has saved Americans lives since the September 11 terrorist attacks and 41 percent disagree.
Iran Is Dangerous, Let's Talk
Far and away Iran is the country Americans think poses the "greatest immediate danger to the United States." When asked to say which country -- without being read a list -- poses the greatest immediate danger a 36 percent plurality says Iran, up slightly from 32 percent (February 2007). Iraq comes in second at 11 percent, down from 15 percent (February 2007). Afghanistan increases to 10 percent, up from just 1 percent, and North Korea comes in at 8 percent, down from 20 percent two years ago.
A 63 percent majority of Americans think the United States should open diplomatic relations with Iran, even though almost all -- 88 percent -- think the country cannot be trusted on the issue of nuclear weapons.