Navy lawyer who challenged Bush forced to leave service

The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration’s military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military’s "up or out" promotion system. Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander.

He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden’s driver.

"It was a pleasure to serve," Swift told the Miami Herald. He added he would have defended Hamdan even if he had known it would cut short his Navy career.

"All I ever wanted was to make a difference — and in that sense I think my career and personal satisfaction has been beyond my dreams," Swift said.

The Pentagon had no comment Sunday.

A graduate of the University of Seattle School of Law, Swift plans to continue defending Hamdan as a civilian.

The 36-year-old Hamdan was captured along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while fleeing the U.S. invasion that was a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hamdan has acknowledged that bin Laden paid him $200 a month as his driver on a Kandahar farm, but he says he never joined al-Qaida or engaged in military fighting.

Hamdan turned to civilian courts to challenge the constitutionality of his war-crimes trial, a case that eventually led the Supreme Court to rule that President Bush had outstripped his authority when he created ad hoc military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Swift’s supervisor said he served with distinction.

"Charlie has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job," said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the Pentagon’s chief defense counsel for Military Commissions. He added it was "quite a coincidence" that Swift was passed over for a promotion "within two weeks of the Supreme Court opinion."

Washington, D.C., attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said Swift was "a no-brainer for promotion." Swift joins many other distinguished Navy officers over the years who have seen their careers end prematurely, Fidell said.

"He brought real credit to the Navy," Fidell said. "It’s too bad that it’s unrequited love."

Comments

  1. John Huber

    Hey Bush,

    Stories like this confirm your lack of personal integrity. I have no doubt that future “mal-contents”
    will be condemned by your mauling of our constitutional rights.

    I personally think these whistle blowers are the real Patrick Henry’s of this generation.

    And you are just another “Wanna-be” King George.

  2. Daniel E.

    In my opinion, Lt. Commander Swift got a raw deal. Too bad he wasn’t appreciated for his dedication and hard work. This makes the Navy and our commander in chief look bad. Best of luck to Comdr. Swift.

  3. Tom B.

    Of course Comdr. Swift was tossed out of this administration’s military, he is extremely competent.

  4. TallMike2

    I am so proud of Lt Commander Swift. He is a true American of the caliber this country used to enjoy. The government is so full of liars, cheats, thieves, wife bashers, and child molesters, that I no longer feel pride in being an American. Lt Commander Swift has help me feel proud of our country again. Too bad that “the Shrub” and others have screwed him for his great service to our country. I admire Swift’s courage. I wish him and his family well. Thank you, Lt Commander Swift.

  5. Lucy Davis

    I don’t imagine this will make the TV news. With the current administration, it is “kiss butt, or you’ll be punished”. Reminds me of what they did to Dan Rather when he tried to tell the truth about Bush’s cowardice when it came time to fight for his country. The same Bush that calls anyone who dares question his warmongering, “unpatriotic”.

    By the way, when are the commentators going to start talking about how this pre-planned war was started just to take over Iran’s oil. “Democracy” – don’t make me laugh!!!

    Something else – I notice that nothing is being mentioned about the republicans having gone to ABC, asking them cover up the newest scandal – Foley Gate. Hooray for ABC for having the guts to go ahead and reveal what had been kept quiet for so many years.

  6. Eleanor

    This is an outrage and just another example of the dictator’s attitude. However, I am sure that the man knew this would happen to him when he had the guts to take on the liar and his minions and then beat them but guess what Commander – your can walk away with your head held high and your integrity intact while the dictator and his minions will never be able to claim same even though they will try. However, we all know what Bush and his group is all about – lies, false reports, etc. and there aren’t many that have any respect for any of them. You have my utmost respect and I wish you well.

  7. TruePatriotWarrior

    This officer did what officers are supposed to do, he defended the Constitution.

    Now lets hope enough officers have the courage to do what the brave German officers did in WWII when they tried to kill Hitler.

    Bush crossed the Rubicon–it is time to teach this Caesar there is a price to pay for his treason.

  8. rrk1

    This is perfectly consistent behavior on the part of this authoritarian regime. Reward, reward, reward your (incompetent) friends and supporters, and punish, punish, punish any dissenters. This is just a rerun of the Wilson/Plame affair, and it’s meant to send a message to other possible dissidents and whistleblowers: don’t.

  9. Pinhole

    Yes, thank you Lt Commander Swift. You give us hope. I see the phone line of the Grim-one, Cheney; or perhaps Rumsfeld, in action here. “Don’t get mad, get even.”

    He may call Woodward up and swear at him, but has other methods available with active duty military.

    We support Eric Massa, another ex-Navy officer, for Congress, from NYS.