WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday named congressional committee attorney Paul Lewis as a special envoy to work on closing the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The announcement was part of President Barack Obama's renewed push to close the prison, which remains open despite his 2009 pledge to shutter the facility within a year. Obama pledged in April to reinvigorate the closure effort amid a hunger strike by detainees that led to their force-feeding.
Lewis currently works as an attorney for the Democratic minority on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, where he deals with Guantanamo-related issues.
"Special Envoy Lewis brings a wealth of experience from his previous position," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Lewis, who served as a judge advocate in the Marine Corps, also has worked as the general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee and previously was an attorney for the Defense Department in the Office of Legislative Counsel.
He will take up the special envoy posting on Nov. 1, the Pentagon said.
Obama created two special envoy positions to work on closing Guantanamo. Attorney Clifford Sloan was appointed in June to be the State Department envoy. Lewis would serve as his counterpart at the Pentagon.