The State Department has reassigned Daniel Fried, who used to be the special envoy for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, and does not plan to put anybody in his place, The New York Times reports. His office is being closed.
This move suggests the Obama administration does not see the closing of the prison as a realistic goal, although the administration continues to claim it is dedicated to the prison’s closing.
This announcement came after five prisoners facing the death penalty from the September 11 attacks made their first public appearance since October when pretrial proceedings resumed on Monday.
Fried’s position was created in 2009 after Obama got elected and promised to close the prison in his first year. Fried negotiated the return of 31 prisoners, and had arranged for 40 others to be resettled in third-party countries as they feared for abuse if returned to their home countries. But tighter restrictions were imposed by Congress, like not allowing any detainees to be transferred to the United States, and prohibiting their return to countries with “troubled security conditions,” like Yemen or Sudan.
The most recent act, passed last year, extended those restrictions and broadened their scope to cover even those who had been scheduled to be returned to their home countries under plea bargains. President Obama threatened to veto the bill, but eventually signed it and issued a statement that says he holds the power to override the limits put in place by the law.
A spokesman for Fried’s office named Ian Moss said the closing of the office does not mean that the administration is abandoning the goal of closing the prison. He said they the administration “remain(s) committed to closing Guantánamo, and doing so in a responsible fashion. The administration continues to express its opposition to Congressional restrictions that impede our ability to implement transfers.”