Pentagon Official in Charge of Detainee Policy Steps Down

Mike O'Brien

The Pentagon official who is in charge of dealing with detainees is stepping down to take a job in the private sector.

William K. Lietzau, who will leave his position next month, is quitting at a time when President Obama is renewing his push to shut down the prison at Guantânamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Lietzau emailed his staff on Thursday and said he had accepted the role of vice president and deputy general counsel for PAE, a government services company, the New York Times reports.

He wrote: "I believe we have made enormous strides on behalf of the country. Steadily and without fanfare, we have made principled decisions that support our forces and put in place credible policies that enhance our national security."

Mr. Lietzau has been at the forefront of shaping detention policies in two administrations.

He served as an adviser in the creation of the first version of President George W. Bush’s system of military commissions trials after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 2001.

In recent years he has been the main official for shaping "law of war" detention policies at Gitmo and Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.

He has been loudly criticized for his support of prisoner-of-war style indefinite detention without trial.

Mr. Obama announced in May that he would appoint an "envoy" at the Pentagon to handle issues related to transfers from Guantânamo — which previously had fallen under Mr. Lietzau’s umbrella.