[JURIST] An anonymous source inside the US State Department said Monday that President Barack Obama [official websites] is appointing attorney Clifford Sloan [professional profile] to be the new envoy in charge of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. Clifford, who has served in all three federal branches, is now a privately practicing attorney and an informal adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry [official website] and has served under both Democrat and Republican leadership. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], a supporter of the closure of Guantanamo Bay, welcomed the appointment [press release] and urged quick action:
The president now has ordered the restart of transfers out of Guantanamo, lifted the moratorium on transfers to Yemen, and appointed top officials at the White House and State Department to get it done. Once President Obama makes the necessary appointment at the Pentagon to begin transferring detainees out of Guantanamo, he should immediately begin doing so. With more than half of the detainees already cleared for transfer or release, and dozens more being held without ever being charged or tried, it’s time to start sending these men home.
On Sunday, the Pentagon Prosecutor at Guantanamo announced that only seven more captives are expected to be charged [AP report] at Guantanamo. Six are accused of death-penalty crimes related to the 9/11 attacks [JURIST backgrounder].
Earlier this month the House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved [JURIST report] the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF], which would keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay open despite Obama’s statements that he will close it. According to the official summary [text, PDF], the bill allocates over 200 million dollars to restore dilapidated facilities, as well as improve staff facilities. Last month Obama renewed his pledge to make an effort to close the detention center [JURIST report]. Also in May JURIST Guest Columnist David Frakt of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law argued that the Obama administration should release those detainees [JURIST op-ed] held at Guantanamo Bay who have already been declared to not be a danger to the US. In April UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for US authorities to close down the Guantanamo prison camp [JURIST report], emphasizing the continued indefinite incarcerations of many detainees as a clear violation of international law.