Obama to name D.C. lawyer to lead Guantanamo Bay closure

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Monday, June 17, 2013 - 11:00am

President Barack Obama will appoint Washington, D.C. lawyer Clifford Sloan to re-open the State Department's Office of Guantanamo Closure, according to a senior administration official.

The administration's efforts to shut down the detention facility have been stalled since January, when the State Department shuttered the office tasked with handling the closure, and reassigned its special envoy.

A formal announcement is expected Monday.

Obama said in a national security speech last month that detention facility puts U.S. interests at risk, saying some allies are reluctant to cooperate on investigations with the United States if a suspect might land at the controversial detention center

"The original premise for opening Gitmo - that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention - was found unconstitutional five years ago," he said. "In the meantime, Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."

That's not to mention the economic implications, the president said. The country spends $150 million annually to imprison 166 suspects, and the Defense Department estimates that keeping Gitmo open may cost another $200 million "at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home," he said.

Explaining that no prisoner has ever escaped a supermax or military facility - and noting U.S. courts have had no issue prosecuting terrorists, some more dangerous than those at Guantanamo - Obama said he would push again to close the detention center and appoint State and Defense department envoys to make sure the detainees are transferred to other countries.

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