Secretary of State John Kerry appointed the former publisher of Slate magazine as Gitmo czar — a special envoy position meant to guide President Obama’s goal, renewed after extensive lobbying pressure, of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Cliff Sloan was a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and associate counsel in the Clinton White House before moving on to Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive as vice president of business development and general counsel. He helmed Slate after it was acquired by the Washington Post in 2005.
Sloan is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in D.C. with a focus on litigation, intellectual property, media, and entertainment. He has made six arguments before the Supreme Court, including in a copyright infringement lawsuit as lead counsel for Bon Jovi.
“Special Envoy Sloan brings a wealth of experience as an accomplished litigator, and pragmatic problem solver, a skill set that will prove valuable as he serves as the lead negotiator for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees abroad, and manages a multitude of diplomatic issues related to the president’s directives to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, implement transfer determinations, and conduct a periodic review of those detainees who are not approved for transfer,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at today’s briefing.
“…This just shows a renewed focus on this effort, and renewed commitment to delivering on the president’s directive.”
Sloan was a member of Obama’s transition team in 2008 on the Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Policy Working Groups. He has donated to the campaigns of Obama, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Members of his firm donated heavily to Obama’s inaugural.
Psaki wouldn’t commit to a timeline on the closure Obama promised long ago.
“But I can tell you that, clearly, when the president of the United States talks about something in his speech, when we’ve taken follow-up steps like appointing this official to work here at the State Department, this is something we are committed to. And we will be driving, moving forward,” said the president’s former campaign spokeswoman, now at Kerry’s side.
“He’s just starting, so I don’t want to get too ahead of what he can already accomplish, you know, within — within just a few — I guess he started today, I believe. I’ll check on that for all of you,” Psaki said when asked whether Sloan have had contact with the Yemenis about transfers. “You know that the reason that we made the decision we did on Yemen was that, of course, the — its circumstances had changed on the ground from when we had put the moratorium in place to begin with. But I don’t have any updates on forward-looking action. Of course, that will be a part of his interesting portfolio moving forward.”
“Mr. Sloan and the work he’ll do, we’re very hopeful about his success in the months ahead,” she added. “…Given, you know, Mr. Sloan’s background as somebody who has been a successful litigator, has been a negotiator; he’s argued before the Supreme Court; he’s worked closely with Congress and a number of the key players here, we felt — the secretary felt and the president certainly supported our efforts to name a high-level official like this to lead the charge moving forward.”