Earlier this year, I had dinner with a smart defense wonk who had a few minor doubts about the ability of the Obama national-security team to successfully execute the new administration’s apparent agenda. One official the wonk didn’t doubt was Phil Carter, the Army reserve captain, lawyer and Obamanaut whom the administration made its Pentagon pointman for detainee issues. Now Phil, the wonk said, that guy is a real expert; he knows what he’s doing; I have no doubt Guantanamo will be successfully closed.

Ah well. Phil is leaving the Pentagon, and there were such high hopes for him.

Glenn Greenwald has a perceptive post about some possible implications of Phil’s departure, coming so conspicuously close to both Greg Craig leaving the White House and Obama’s concession that Guantanamo won’t be closed by January. I was curious myself, so I emailed Phil, whom I’ve come to know and respect over the years. He politely declined to talk about his exit from the Pentagon, and so I’m going to respect that, especially the day before Thanksgiving. But he did talk with his friend Noah Shachtman, and Noah’s convinced that this is a case in which someone really is resigning for personal reasons. If Noah co-signs for it, it’s good enough for me. Still, it’s too bad this couldn’t work out.