WASHINGTON – President Barack 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 was expected today, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Sloan has served in senior government positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations and is now a partner in the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP law firm. For the past several years, he has been an informal adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, who recommended him for the post, the officials said.
White House vague on Syrian rebel aid
WASHINGTON – White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday that “the scope and scale” of assistance to Syrian rebels will expand, based on evidence that the Assad government is gaining ground in the protracted civil war and that it may have used chemical weapons in the conflict.
McDonough did not say whether arms shipments to Syrian rebels would include artillery and other heavy weapons that could help reduce the military regimes advantage. In the shadow of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has to tread carefully, McDonough said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“We have to be very discerning about what’s in our interest and what outcome is best for us, and the prices that we’re willing to pay to get to that place,” he said. “We’ve rushed to war in this region in the past; we’re not going to do it here.”
Republicans such as Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, faulted the administration for not providing the kind of detailed plan needed to get congressional approval for the military aid to Syria.