The job of the Special Envoy is to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba by negotiating with countries which might accept the transfer of captives, honoring one of President Barack Obama’s campaign promises.
“Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Lee Wolosky, as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure,” said Kerry. “Lee will lead our ongoing diplomatic engagement to make possible the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility in a timely manner, consistent with American interests and the security of our people. ”
Wolosky succeeds Clifford Sloan who was appointed July 1, 2013 and resigned December 14, 2014 after close to 2 dozen captives were released or repatriated just prior to his resignation. Sloan had followed Daniel Fried, who took the position on May 15, 2009 and resigned in January 2013. In June 2009, Fried had expressed his confidence that Guantanamo would be closed by January of 2010.
“Lee Wolosky is a highly-skilled and experienced attorney who served as the National Security Council’s Director for Transnational Threats under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush,” says Kerry. “He is ideally qualified to continue the hard diplomatic engagement that is required to close Guantanamo in accordance with President Obama’s directives.”
“Lee will assume lead responsibility for arranging for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees abroad and for implementing transfer determinations, and overseeing the State Department’s participation in the periodic reviews of those detainees who are not approved for transfer,” said Kerry.
Outgoing Special Envoy Sloan had previously served as Associate Counsel to the President, Assistant to the Solicitor General and assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives. He had clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and worked at international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. Sloan, a published author, had also been Publisher of Slate magazine and General Counsel of the Washington Post.
Like his predecessor Sloan, Wolosky is a graduate of Harvard — both undergraduate and law school — and was working in private practice with super-firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. He clerked for then Federal District Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I am very pleased at Lee’s decision to return to government service and look forward to working closely with him in his new position,” concluded Kerry’s announcement.
As of July 1, the State Department reports that Wolosky has not yet visited the Guantanamo facility. “However, he intends to visit the detention facility and meet with the detention facility leadership very soon,” the State Department said in answer to a question on July 1.
Latin American Herald Tribune