Hopes of 'Gitmo' closing dim
January 29th, 2013
12:46 PM ET

Hopes of 'Gitmo' closing dim

By Elise Labott

The State Department has reassigned the special envoy dealing with closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and has no plans to replace him, two senior State Department officials tell CNN.

Daniel Fried's office has been closed and his duties will now be handled by the State Department's legal adviser's office, according to a State Department internal announcement.

The decision leaves little indication that the administration has pressing plans to follow through on a chief promise of President Barack Obama regarding the "Gitmo" facility in Cuba.

It was established in 2001 within a remote U.S. naval base to house those classified as enemy combatants.

Fried's post was created in 2009 shortly after Obama announced his intention to close Guantanamo Bay within his first year in office.

Fried has traveled the world since negotiating the repatriation of about 30 low-level detainees and resettling about 40 more eligible for release but unable to return to their home countries due to fears of abuse.

But significant congressional restrictions on further detainee transfers left Fried's job less demanding. Most recently, he spent some of his time working to help resettle a group of Iranian exiles, known as the MEK, living in a refugee camp in Iraq.

"Guantanamo hasn't been a full time job for a year," one senior official said, citing the new congressional restrictions.

Obama signed the limits into law as part of a 2013 defense spending bill.

Administration officials initially said he might veto the defense measure if the legislation included detainee transfer restrictions, which would undercut his pledge to close the facility.

Officials insist the administration still is intent on closing it.

Fried, a career diplomat, will now become the State Department's coordinator for sanctions policy, which includes prohibitions against Iran, North Korea and Syria.

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