Muslim Legal Fund (MLFA)–IV. Charles Swift, Esq. — Beyond Guantanamo

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO



(This is the first part of the fourth and final installment of a series of presentations on “Guantanamo North” which investigates the plight of Muslim Prisoners in our Metropole [i.e., a Center of Empire] sponsored by the Muslim Foundation of America in North California.)

Charles Swift, is a mainstream American lawyer some of whose ancestors were on the Mayflower – the initial English settlers to settle in America in the 17th, Century, and a female antecedent was sentenced to execution (by burning) in the infamous Salem (Mass.) Witch Trials (1692-1693 CE [Common Era]) which led him to state that “The American tradition has a dark side to it,” too.  Particularly, the paradigm shift after 9/11 to the American set of ideals enshrined in the Republic’s Constitution when the White House commanded action against other nations (mostly Islamic) to present them from initiating  armed conflict against America, which was mostly in Washington’s mind, — and to further the goal of regime change.  (Iraq was no martial threat to the U.S.A., but, now, after Bagdad’s regime change, is the most capitalistic nation in the world.  Besides, our intervention gave the opportunity a large contingent’s of the District of Columbia’s real enemy in the G.W.O.T. [the Global War on Terrorism] – of al-Qaeda into the fray – who in Mesopotamia were almost negligible during Saddam Hussein’s ruthless reign.  Also, this was against “our” strategic interests in the War Against Terrorism, and has led to a high probability of a Salafi take over from the majority Shia in the Land of the Two Rivers. This “fundamentalist” denomination derived from the older Wahhabi practices are a part of the Sunni Islam.  Salafis are a much sterner Islam which rejects many practices of other Muslims and is “fundamentalist.”  As such, they have been highly critical of recent Modernist incursions into Dar al-Islam to the point they have taken up arms against the West.  The Salafis are a minority within Islam. 

Although they are a sub-sect within Islamic culture, and, since most of the “soldiers” within the G.W.O.T., who oppose the West come from that grouping, they are mistakenly taken to represent the whole of Islam – especially in like manner purported against those in American Islam.)

Further, torture was the norm which is against the Eighth Amendment of the nation’s Constitution and inner ideals, but, in the Bush Administration, it became the normal practice of our (U.S.’) intelligence community.

Lt. Commander Swift (retired), although not being a follower of the Prophet (s) has a great empathy for the civil rights of Muslims which was garnered during a twenty year career as a (U.S.) Naval counsel.  This officer was denied promotion and subsequently cashiered out of the Navy for a vigorous successful challenge to George W. Bush’s Administration policy on the Military Tribunal system at Guantanamo.

(The North American States acquired the land for the Naval base on Guantanamo Bay on the Caribbean island of Cuba in the Spanish American War of 1898. 
When Havana, after their country’s emancipation from their Colonial masters, the country was held in trust for four years by the United States following the aforementioned conflict with Spain, but became totally independent (from the United States)in 1902; and, thereafter, granted the U.S. a long term lease of that Base on Guantanamo Bay acquired in the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903.  The Platt Amend, 1934, to the previously alluded Treaty gave the United States of America perpetual ownership to the land and sea approaches to the base.  In 2002, an infamous prison was established within Gitmo to house prisoners (of War) from the G.W.O.T. in conditions against several of the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of War.  The torture of Muslim detainees by the opinion of George W. Bush’s legal advisor, John Yoo, (who has returned to teaching at the Boalt Hall Law School within the University of California campus) inside your researcher’s city of Berkeley, established the “right” of America to torture in these pre-emptive Wars.)

Lt. Commander Swift, then in the Judge Advocate Corps was designated to represent the Yemeni Salim Hamdan, the personal Chauffeur of Osama bin Laden, in May 2003.  The lawyer/officer was ordered to plead Hamdan guilty in this first Tribunal at Guantanamo.  It was against his ethics as a lawyer representing a client; so, he went to the civilian Courts to argue his client’s case against his being guilty of war crimes, for which he was noted in the National Law Journal of being one of the best attorneys in the States for his defense of the Islamic detainees enmeshed in the naval legal system.

(If the G.W.O.T. is truly a War, those captured should be held as prisoners of war until hostilities are over; then, if the victorious party feels individuals detain had committed War crimes, should be tried only then.  As for the concept of illegal combatants, which “W” ([Baby] Bush junior) put forth due to the fact that the opposing faction did not don a uniform makes no sense, for what tribal contingent does wear a uniform?  Therefore, to treat them immediately as criminals punishing them as murderous felons for fighting for a non-governmental entity, and, thereby, incarcerating them with long sentences is against the Law of War and the Geneva Conventions! 

Under the those Treaties, they are prisoners of War until individuals suspected crimes can be tried when all witnesses still available can come forth to testify. 

Therefore, the manner that the Administration fought was askew, and put many under the category of War criminals themselves.  [The Kuala Lumpur War Commission has found seven members of George W. Bush’s government guilty of war crimes in 2012.]!)


0 replies