Clifford Sloan is the former Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure at the U.S. State Department. Previously, Sloan was the publisher of Slate magazine. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. During his time at Harvard Law, Sloan assisted Alan Dershowitz with the famous Claus von Bülow murder case with his classmate and friend Eliot Spitzer. In the 1990 movie Reversal of Fortune about the case, Sloan and Spitzer are played by Felicity Huffman and Annabella Sciorra. After his time at Harvard Law, he served as a Supreme Court clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He also was Vice President of Business Affairs and general counsel at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, where he was responsible for developing strategic partnerships and managing WPNI's legal affairs. Additionally, Sloan served as Associate White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton. He is married to Mary Lou Hartman, former Director of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship program.
In March 2008, Sloan stepped down as publisher of Slate magazine to become a partner at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom LLP. After stepping down at Slate and before he began work at Skadden, Mr. Sloan co-authored the book The Great Decision with David McKean. The book is about the case Marbury v. Madison.
On June 16, 2013, The New York Times, Fox News, National Public Radio, Reuters, and several other press sources reported that President Barack Obama was about to appoint Sloan as the new State Department envoy tasked to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp by negotiating with countries which might accept the transfer of captives.
The previous Special Envoy, Daniel Fried, was granted seniority high enough he was addressed as Ambassador. When Fried was reassigned on January 28, 2013, no replacement was announced, and it was reported that the office was being shut down. Commentators interpreted Fried's reassignment, with no replacement announced, as a sign that Obama had lost interest in trying to find countries which would allow accept the transfer of captives from Guantanamo. Fried had not been able to initiate a new transfer for more than a year prior to his reassignment. However, in May 2013, Obama had re-iterated his commitment to closing the Guantanamo camps during a speech at the Defense University. During his speech Obama had announced he would appoint a new senior official at the State Department, and another at the Department of Defense, tasked to expedite the transfer of the remaining Guantanamo captives.
Sloan's opposite number at the Department of Defense, Paul Lewis, was not appointed until October 2013.
On December 14, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Sloan's resignation. His resignation took observers by surprise as close to two dozen individuals had been released or repatriated shortly before his resignation.