Top diplomat to oversee Gitmo closure
Thu, Mar 12, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A senior diplomat is likely to be chosen for a job to carry out President Barack Obama's order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, a US official said Wednesday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told AFP that Dan Fried, the outgoing assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, is likely to land the new position.

'It is expected that he (Fried) will be nominated for a position dealing with the presidential directive on Guantanamo Bay,' the official said. 'This is not a position that would need Senate confirmation.'

He confirmed that as part of his duties, Fried would have to persuade European and other countries to take prisoners who are believed too dangerous to be released.

Just two days after assuming office on January 20, Obama ordered the closure by early 2010 of the controversial US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and a halt to military commission proceedings pending a review of all cases.

Obama also ordered the shutting down of all CIA 'secret' prisons abroad and commissioned a task force to work out what to do with more than 240 prisoners still in the camp.

The panel will assess which prisoners can safely be released, which could be prosecuted under a new kind of judicial process, or which could not be released or tried because the evidence against them is secret or tainted.

The orders signaled a sharp reversal of the controversial Bush administration 'war on terror' policies launched in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks which have exposed America to sharp criticism abroad.

Signing the Guantanamo order, which also halted any further military hearings of the inmates, Obama said he was setting in place a process by which the camp 'will be closed no later than one year from now.'

Last week, the White House said it planned to have Phil Gordon succeed Fried in the job of assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs.

Gordon has for the last eight years worked on US foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based policy research institute.

He was director for European affairs at the National Security Council under president Bill Clinton.


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