This is pretty huge, coming from the State Department’s former Legal Adviser, and the former Dean of Yale Law. Koh’s brother, Dr. Howard Koh, remains on at HHS as Assistant Secretary. From Politico:
“First, and foremost, he must appoint a senior White House official with the clout and commitment to actually make Guantanamo closure happen. There has not been such a person at the White House since Greg Craig left as White House Counsel in early 2010. There must be someone close to the president, with a broad enough mandate and directly answerable to him, who wakes up each morning thinking about how to shrink the Guantanamo population and close the camp,” Koh said Tuesday at Oxford, England in remarks reported on the Lawfare blog.
Koh also called for a civilian courts and judges to Gitmo, and endorsed drone authority, while acknowledging that administrative secrecy is undermining their efforts:
“To be candid, this administration has not done enough to be transparent about legal standards and the decisionmaking process that it has been applying. It had not been sufficiently transparent to the media, to Congress, and to our allies. Because the administration has been so opaque, a left-right coalition running from Code Pink to Rand Paul has now spoken out against the drone program, fostering a growing perception that the program is not lawful and necessary, but illegal, unnecessary and out of control,” Koh declared. “The administration must take responsibility for this failure, because its persistent and counterproductive lack of transparency has led to the release of necessary pieces of its public legal defense too little and too late.”