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Official's Resignation Latest Challenge Facing Gitmo Closure

Almost immediately following his inauguration, President Barack Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by January 22, 2010. Following this declaration, however, closure efforts have been faced with a steady number of challenges, such as relocation of detainees, political pressure from federal lawmakers, and difficulty in retaining officials.

In early November of this year, Gregory B. Craig, White House counsel charged with Administration detainee policy, resigned his post. Following Craig’s resignation, the White House has also announced that it will not be able to meet the self-imposed January 22 deadline. With that news, a further setback occurred, as Philip Carter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for detainee policy, resigned. Carter indicated that “personal and family reasons” were the basis for his resignation. Although Carter’s rationale appears apolitical, some commentators have argued that his resignation is anything but.

Amid growing progressive dismay with Obama’s adoption of the Bush Administration’s stance on the state secrets doctrine (among other Executive policies), Salon’s Glenn Greenwald speculates that Carter’s resignation was no mere personal decision. Instead, the close timing of Craig and Carter’s resignations may suggest that they are vacating in protest. Conversely, Wired.com’s Noah Shachtman, a personal acquiantance of Carter, asserts that there may have been legitimate family reasons that triggered the resignation. The Atlantic links to further discussion of the basis for Carter’s regisnation.

Regardless of the political or apolitcal character of Carter’s departure, the Obama Administration has needed to engage in a delicate political balancing act over national security. Although it has essentially adopted the Bush stance on state secrets, for example, the Obama DoJ has indicated that state secrets doctrine is not immune to later reexamination. Over Guantanamo, the Administration has faced critics on the left and right, who charge that change is coming too slowly, or that change is jeopardizing the US, respectively.

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