Effort to close Guantanamo dealt another major setback

State Department Guantanamo envoy steps down after 18 months on the job

Published December 23, 2014 2:38PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)
(Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)

The Obama administration's effort to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba sustained another major setback on Monday as Cliff Sloan, the State Department envoy charged with negotiating detainee transfers from the facility, stepped down after 18 months on the job.

Though Sloan told the New York Times that he never intended to stay in the role longer than 18 months, one U.S. official told the Times that Sloan is leaving amid frustration at the Pentagon's slow pace in approving detainee transfers. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who announced his resignation last month, has clashed with White House officials over the transfers, with National Security Adviser Susan Rice pressuring Hagel to hasten the transfer of prisoners cleared for release from Guantanamo.

According to the Times, the administration hasn't settled on Sloan's replacement.

Sloan's resignation comes nearly five years after President Obama missed his self-imposed 2010 deadline for closing Guantanamo. The administration's effort to shutter the facility faltered amid congressional obstruction; in 2010, Congress banned the transfer of any Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil. While the U.S. has transferred Guantanamo detainees to facilities in other countries, American officials say that closing the facility will require transferring at least some of the remaining detainees to U.S. soil.

By Luke Brinker

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