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Taking On Guantanamo

Vanity Fair has a thought-provoking article on JAG lawyer Charles Swift: October 15, 2006. The day I meet Charlie Swift, he attempts to sum up the le

Vanity Fair has a thought-provoking article on JAG lawyer Charles Swift:

October 15, 2006. The day I meet Charlie Swift, he attempts to sum up the legal morass of Guantánamo. "Justice," he says, "is based on a simple idea: it can happen to you." The line comes out minutes after he arrives at a Starbucks in the suburbs of Maryland, and the intensity of his delivery causes the teenagers making out at the next table to look up. It's a Sunday afternoon, shortly after the announcement that Swift is leaving the navy. A few days earlier, on October 11, The New York Times ran a harsh editorial commenting on the subject:

In 2003, Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was assigned to represent Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni citizen accused of being a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda-for the sole purpose of getting him to plead guilty before one of the military commissions that President Bush created for the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Instead of carrying out this morally repugnant task, Commander Swift concluded that the commissions were unconstitutional. He did his duty and defended his client.... The Navy gave no reason for denying Commander Swift's promotion. But there is no denying the chilling message it sends to remaining military lawyers about the potential consequences of taking their job, and justice, seriously.

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