Key Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, jobs at Pentagon vacant

Sept. 6, 2013 at 2:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. Defense Department position that would oversee closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility remains unfilled despite President Obama's pledge to do so.

The White House Thursday said the creation of the Pentagon position remained an administration goal, but didn't explain the delay, The Miami Herald reported Friday.

"There's no change in the policy/direction on this issue from the White House," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Herald via email.

On May 23, Obama announced that he would appoint a Pentagon-based special envoy to work on closing the prison in collaboration with a new State Department envoy, the Herald said.

"We still intend to push forward on repatriating detainees in every instance possible and getting to the closure of Guantanamo, supported by the efforts of envoys at the Departments of State and Defense."

As of Friday, there were 164 detainees -- 30 of them on hunger strike and 27 designated for forced feedings if they did not cooperate with Navy medics assigned to nourish them. In June, the hunger strike peaked at 106 detainees, the military indicated.

The Herald also said William K. Lietzau's last day as the top defense official who deals with detainees was last week. J. Alan Liotta, who had been Lietzau's deputy, is the acting deputy assistant defense secretary for the rule of law and detainee policy, a Pentagon spokesman said.

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