Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday named a House Armed Services lawyer to head up an initiative to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The appointment of Paul M. Lewis to the position of "Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure" could signal another start in President Barack Obama's faltering efforts to shutter the controversial prison that President George W. Bush established in November 2001 after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Hagel said the appointment of Lewis, who has overseen Guantanamo-related issues as a lawyer for Democrats on the House committee, "reflects the (Defense) Department's commitment to implementing the President's directive to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."
Obama himself, however, has wavered on the pledge he first made while running for president in 2008.
Two days after taking office Jan. 20, Obama issued an executive order pledging to close the Guantanamo prison within a year.
The 2009 Military Commissions Act, which Sen. Lindsey Graham helped craft, requires the president to give Congress at least 45 days' advance notice of transfer of any detainees from Guantanamo.
But when Obama began implementing the order, mainly Republican lawmakers accused him of endangering Americans by planning to transfer Guantanamo detainees to mainland U.S. prisons and trying them in federal courts.
Obama backed off the initiative and since then has made only a few faltering attempts to implement his executive order.