Chuck Hagel Names Special Envoy to Close Guantanamo Bay

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The US flag at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on August 6, 2013.
National Journal
Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
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Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Oct. 8, 2013, 9:25 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel has picked Paul Lewis, a former House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee law­yer, as spe­cial en­voy for the clos­ure of the Guantanamo Bay de­ten­tion cen­ter. The ap­point­ment comes nearly four months after Pres­id­ent Obama vowed to as­sign a spe­cial en­voy to help close the pris­on, call­ing it “a sym­bol around the world for an Amer­ica that flouts the rule of law.”

“This an­nounce­ment re­flects the de­part­ment’s com­mit­ment to im­ple­ment­ing the pres­id­ent’s dir­ect­ive to close the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity at Guantanamo Bay,” Hagel said in a state­ment on Tues­day.

There are cur­rently 164 pris­on­ers at Guantanamo ““ 17 of them are on a hun­ger strike, ac­cord­ing to the Miami Her­ald.

“Spe­cial En­voy Lewis brings a wealth of ex­per­i­ence from his pre­vi­ous po­s­i­tion as the Minor­ity Gen­er­al Coun­sel of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee where he over­saw Guantanamo re­lated is­sues. In ad­di­tion to fa­cil­it­at­ing trans­fer de­term­in­a­tions for Guantanamo de­tain­ees, he will over­see ef­forts to trans­fer third coun­try na­tion­als cur­rently held by the United States in Afgh­anistan.

Lewis pre­vi­ously worked as gen­er­al coun­sel for the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, was dir­ect­or of the Of­fice of Le­gis­lat­ive Coun­sel in DoD’s Of­fice of the Gen­er­al Coun­sel, and served as coun­sel to the Chair­man of the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee. After gradu­at­ing from Notre Dame Law School in 1983, Lewis served as a judge ad­voc­ate in the Mar­ine Corps, As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney in the Man­hat­tan DA’s of­fice and was a tri­al at­tor­ney in the Or­gan­ized Crime and Rack­et­eer­ing Sec­tion of the Justice De­part­ment. He also teaches eth­ics at Geor­getown Uni­versity.

Lewis will start the job on Nov. 1.

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