WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The State Department envoy responsible for negotiating prisoner transfers from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is resigning, officials said on Monday, even as President Barack Obama is promising a stepped-up push to close the facility.
The surprise announcement of Clifford Sloan’s departure followed a flurry of detainee repatriations and resettlements, though officials at the State Department and White House had made clear their frustration with the slow handling of such moves by outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four Afghans held for over a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent home to Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in a slow-moving push by the Obama administration to close the facility.
The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009, according to a U.S. official.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed on Friday to respond to a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures that he blamed on North Korea, and scolded the Hollywood studio for caving in to what he described as a foreign dictator imposing censorship in America.
Obama said the cyber attack caused a lot of damage to Sony but that the company should not have let itself be intimidated into halting the public release of “The Interview,” a lampoon portraying the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed
on Friday to respond to a devastating cyberattack on Sony
Pictures that he blamed on North Korea, and scolded the
Hollywood studio for caving in to what he described as a
dictator trying to impose censorship in America.
Obama said the cyberattack caused a lot of damage to Sony
but that the company should not have let itself be intimidated
into halting the public release of “The Interview,” a lampoon
portraying the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The messages from Alan Gross had grown increasingly ominous. In May, on his 65th birthday, the former U.S. aid worker said he would rather die than spend another birthday in a Cuban prison. Two weeks ago, his wife said he was “literally wasting away.”
But arriving home on Wednesday, Gross – released after more than five years of imprisonment on espionage charges – looked almost giddy with joy as he told a news conference in Washington he was “incredibly blessed” to be free.
HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama was set to announce a shift in policy toward Cuba on Wednesday and the Associated Press reported the changes would include the opening of an embassy in Cuba and the start of talks to normalize relations.
The shift in policy, which could be one of the biggest changes in decades of animosity between communist-ruled Cuba and the United States, was heralded by Cuba’s release of American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana.
HAVANA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cuba has released American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison in a reported prisoner exchange with Havana that the United States said on Wednesday heralds an overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba.
A U.S. official said Gross was released on humanitarian grounds. CNN reported a prisoner exchange that also included Cuba releasing a U.S. intelligence source and the United States releasing three Cuban intelligence agents.
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States offered further counter terrorism help to Pakistan on Tuesday after a deadly Taliban attack on a school, and U.S. officials said privately they expect stronger Pakistani resolve in fighting the insurgents.
President Barack Obama said the raid, which killed at least 132 students and nine staff at a military-run high school in the city of Peshawar, was an act of “depravity” and he promised that Washington would back Pakistan against the militants.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of the two psychologists who devised the CIA’s harsh Bush-era interrogation methods said on Wednesday that a scathing U.S. Senate report on the torture of foreign terrorism suspects “took things out of context” and made false accusations.
“It’s a bunch of hooey,” James Mitchell told Reuters from his home in Florida when asked for his response to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings released on Tuesday. “Some of the things are just plain not true.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA paid $80 million to a company run by two former Air Force psychologists without experience in interrogation or counter-terrorism who recommended waterboarding, slaps to the face and mock burial for prisoners the U.S. suspected of being terrorists, according to a U.S. Senate report.
The two men are referred to in the report by the pseudonyms “Dunbar” and “Swigert” but have been identified by U.S. intelligence sources as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. The CIA outsourced more than 80 percent of its interrogation program to the company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates of Spokane, Washington, for its work from 2005 until the termination of the arrangement in 2009. The CIA also paid the company $1 million to protect it and its employees from legal liability.