Obama’s Closers Make Secret Trip To Gitmo Prison Facility
November 26, 2013 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
WASHINGTON (UPI) — The two men tasked with emptying the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of its 164 detainees issued a rebuke against maintaining the status quo.
“For us, it is not merely about treating detainees humanely, it is about ensuring that our operations reflect the values for which America stands,” said Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay’s prison who traveled to the base Monday with his State Department counterpart, Clifford Sloan, for secret meetings.
Lewis and Sloan had visited the prison facility separately before their first joint trip to the base, The Miami Herald reported. Military spokesmen did not say who the envoys met, what they saw or topics of discussion.
“We’ll manage the facility and detainees until told to do otherwise,” said Army Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which has oversight of the detention facility.
President Barack Obama announced the creation of the two special envoy positions in May when more than 100 detainees were on a hunger strike because of conditions. As of Monday, 15 were still on fasts and all 15 were approved for restraint-chair tube feedings, said Navy Cmdr. John Filostrat, the prison spokesman.
The visit came as debate inside Congress on whether to ease restrictions on detainee transfers that have blocked Obama’s desire to close the facility — notably forbidding the captives from being relocated to U.S. soil.
Sloan, in a statement issued after he returned to Washington, said he and Lewis were “moving ahead on the president’s commitment to close the detention facility responsibly, and we are making progress.”
Of the 164 detainees, the Herald said six were facing war crimes trials.