Obama Pretty Much Gives up on Closing Gitmo

| Tue Jan. 29, 2013 12:33 PM PST

The New York Times' Charlie Savage reported Monday that Daniel Fried, the man President Barack Obama charged with closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, is stepping down. 

The State Department on Monday reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him, according to an internal personnel announcement. Mr. Fried’s office is being closed, and his former responsibilities will be "assumed" by the office of the department's legal adviser, the notice said.

The announcement that no senior official in President Obama's second term will succeed Mr. Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues pertaining to repatriating or resettling detainees appeared to signal that the administration does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do so.

The Obama administration bungled its effort to close Gitmo early in the president's first term, and a bipartisan revolt in Congress over the possibility of bringing detainees to US soil, even for trial or imprisonment, led to extremely tight restrictions that slowed the rate of detainees leaving the prison to a crawl. Although closing Gitmo was likely impossible already, the fact that Fried's position is not being filled is an acknowledgement by the White House that one of Obama's key campaign promises is now out of reach. At least fifty-five of the remaining 166 detainees at Gitmo have been cleared for transfer.

For more on Gitmo you can check out my appearance on last Sunday's episode of MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes.

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