Envoy selected for Guantanamo prison closure

WASHINGTON — President Obama has chosen a high-powered Washington lawyer with extensive experience in all three branches of the government to be the State Department’s special envoy for closing down the military-run prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Clifford Sloan is the pick to reopen the State Department’s Office of Guantanamo Closure, shuttered since January and folded into the department’s legal adviser’s office when the administration, in the face of congressional obstacles, effectively gave up its attempt to close the prison.

A formal announcement of Sloan’s appointment is expected Monday, according to officials briefed on the matter. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the appointment publicly before the formal announcement.


Sloan has served in senior government positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations and is now a partner in the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP. For the past several years, he has been an informal adviser to John F. Kerry, who recommended him for the post, the officials said.

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‘‘I appreciate his willingness to take on this challenge,’’ the secretary of state said in a statement. ‘‘Cliff and I share the president’s conviction that Guantanamo’s continued operation isn’t in our security interests.’’

The move fulfills part of Obama’s pledge last month to renew efforts to close the military-run detention center at Guantanamo.

Associated Press