Cliff Sloan

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Clifford Sloan, the State Department's Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure.

Clifford Sloan is the former Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure at the U.S. State Department. Previously, Sloan was the publisher of Slate magazine. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. During his time at Harvard Law, Sloan assisted Alan Dershowitz with the famous Claus von Bülow murder case with his classmate and friend Eliot Spitzer. In the 1990 movie Reversal of Fortune about the case, Sloan and Spitzer are played by Felicity Huffman and Annabella Sciorra. [1] After his time at Harvard Law, he served as a Supreme Court clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.[2] He also was Vice President of Business Affairs and general counsel at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, where he was responsible for developing strategic partnerships and managing WPNI's legal affairs.[3] Additionally, Sloan served as Associate White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton. He is married to Mary Lou Hartman, former Director of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program.

In March 2008, Sloan stepped down as publisher of Slate magazine to become a partner at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom LLP.[4] After stepping down at Slate and before he began work at Skadden, Mr. Sloan co-authored the book The Great Decision with David McKean. The book is about the case Marbury v. Madison.

On June 16, 2013, The New York Times, Fox News, National Public Radio, Reuters, and several other press sources reported that President Barack Obama was about to appoint Sloan as the new State Department envoy tasked to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp by negotiating with countries which might accept the transfer of captives.[5][6][7]

The previous Special Envoy, Daniel Fried, was granted seniority high enough he was addressed as Ambassador.[8][9] When Fried was reassigned on January 28, 2013, no replacement was announced, and it was reported that the office was being shut down.[10][11] Commentators interpreted Fried's reassignment, with no replacement announced, as a sign that Obama had lost interest in trying to find countries which would allow accept the transfer of captives from Guantanamo. Fried had not been able to initiate a new transfer for more than a year prior to his reassignment. However, in May 2013, Obama had re-iterated his commitment to closing the Guantanamo camps during a speech at the Defense University.[12][13][14] During his speech Obama had announced he would appoint a new senior official at the State Department, and another at the Department of Defense, tasked to expedite the transfer of the remaining Guantanamo captives.

Sloan's opposite number at the Department of Defense, Paul Lewis, was not appointed until October 2013.[12][13][15][14]

On December 14, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sloan's resignation.[16][17][18] His resignation took observers by surprise as close to two dozen individuals had been released or repatriated shortly before his resignation.


  1. ^ "Gilded Path to Political Stardom, With Detours",, accessed October 11, 2014
  2. ^ "Cliff Sloan", Newsweek on, accessed November 22, 2006
  3. ^ "Who We Are", Slate, accessed November 22, 2006
  4. ^ "Slate Announces New Publisher",, accessed March 19, 2008
  5. ^ "Obama picks lawyer as Guantanamo closure envoy, sources tell AP". Washington DC: Fox News. 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-06-16. President Barack Obama has chosen a high-powered Washington lawyer with extensive experience in all three branches of the government to be the State Department's special envoy for closing down the military-run prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.' 
  6. ^ "Obama To Name Top Lawyer As Guantanamo Closure Envoy". Washington DC: National Public Radio. 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-06-16. The Associated Press, which first reported the news, said Sloan will reopen the Office of Guantanamo Closure, which was shut in January. A formal announcement is expected Monday. 
  7. ^ "State Department to name lawyer Cliff Sloan to close Guantanamo". Washington DC: Reuters. 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-06-16. The State Department on Monday is expected to announce the appointment of Washington lawyer Cliff Sloan to oversee the closure of the controversial Guantanamo detention camp, sources familiar with the decision said on Sunday. 
  8. ^ Appointment of Ambassador Daniel Fried,, 2009-03-12
  9. ^ "Daniel Fried to lead dedicated term in Guantanamo closing", 2009-03-13
  10. ^ Charlie Savage (2013-01-28). "State Dept. Closes Office Working on Shutting Guantánamo Prison". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. 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. 
  11. ^ Kristin Deasy (2013-01-28). "US State Department shuts down office tasked with closing Guantanamo: Move suggests priority shift on the part of the administration". Global Post. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. As of today, there is no longer a State Department office overseeing efforts to close the US prison at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, and the person assigned to the task, Daniel Fried, has been given something else to do, reported The New York Times, citing an official statement. 
  12. ^ a b Carol Rosenberg (2014-10-07). "Capitol Hill lawyer chosen as Pentagon’s ‘Guantánamo closer’". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2014-11-25. Paul Lewis will fill the job that has been vacant since President Barack Obama created it in May, the Pentagon said Tuesday — a day after the Miami Herald reported on the appointment. Lewis, the minority counsel for the House Armed Services Committee, will work for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel exclusively on closing Guantánamo and transferring foreign prisoners from Afghanistan as a counterpart to State Department envoy Clifford Sloan’s work for Secretary of State John Kerry. 
  13. ^ a b Charlie Savage (2013-10-08). "Pentagon Names Envoy for Guantánamo’s Closing". Washington DC: New York Times. p. A16. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08. Retrieved 2014-11-25. Mr. Lewis joins Cliff Sloan, who was appointed in June to be the State Department’s envoy. The appointment of Mr. Lewis, who had worked in the office of the Pentagon general counsel earlier in the Obama administration, is part of a larger turnover of staff on detention issues. In July, William Lietzau, who had been the Pentagon’s top policy official on detainee matters, announced that he was stepping down to take a private sector job. 
  14. ^ a b Jeremy Herb (2013-10-08). "Hagel appoints Guantánamo Bay envoy". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2014-11-25. The president has renewed his efforts this year, and Lewis will be filling a vacant position created by Obama four months ago. Lewis will be tasked with facilitating transfers out of Guantánamo, as well as overseeing the transfer of detainees held by the United States in Afghanistan. 
  15. ^ Spencer Ackerman (2013-10-08). "Pentagon appoints new envoy to help close Guantánamo Bay prison: Paul Lewis also given task of finding third countries to take custody of US military’s non-Afghan detainees in Afghanistan". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved 2014-11-25. The job is a new one for the Pentagon, complementing a similar position at the State Department. President Obama announced its creation in May during a major national security speech in which he recommitted himself to his thwarted goal of shuttering Guántanamo. 
  16. ^ Matt Spetalnick (2014-12-23). "The State Department's Guantanamo Chief Has Resigned". Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-12-23. The surprise announcement of Clifford Sloan’s departure followed a flurry of detainee repatriations and resettlements, though officials at the State Department and White House had made clear their frustration with the slow handling of such moves by outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. 
  17. ^ John Kerry (2014-12-22). "Departure of Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure Cliff Sloan". Stated Department. Retrieved 2014-12-23. Believe me, there were a lot of doubters. This wasn’t the most coveted job in Washington. A lot of people thought Cliff must not have known what he was taking on when he signed up here. This is a low-risk city, and Cliff was taking a risk. He was convinced that we were dead serious about mounting a major effort, and he was right. 
  18. ^ Helene Cooper (2014-12-22). "Cliff Sloan, Guantánamo Envoy, Quits Amid Delays in Prisoner Releases". Washington DC: New York Times. p. A15. Retrieved 2014-11-25. The resignation of Cliff Sloan, a close confidant of Secretary of State John Kerry, comes as officials at the State Department and the White House have increasingly expressed frustration with the Defense Department’s slow pace of transferring approved prisoners. 

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