Chuck Hagel Names Special Envoy to Close Guantanamo Bay

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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