I sent the following letter to my representative asking him to look into the Charles Swift situation. Swift, a military lawyer, mounted a serious defense of an accused prisoner and may have been the target of retribution for having done so.
Dear Representative Radanovich,
I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled “The Cost of Doing Your Duty.” The article details how
“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 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.”
Lt. Cmdr. Swift has been denied promotion which means that in the Navy’s “up or out” system, he will be forced to retire (according to the article anyway). As established since the Nuremberg trials, the first duty of all soldiers is to obey the constitution, law and their moral conscience rather than blindly doing their duty when asked to do something that is wrong and unconstitutional.
Based on the information I have, Swift is a true American hero, a soldier who took the hard road of doing the right thing in the service of his country and, like the New York Times, I wonder whether he is being punished for doing something that was right, but unpopular.
I would hope that someone in your office could investigate Lt. Cmdr. Swift’s situation and verify that he was fairly treated and that he was not denied promotion as a means of retribution.
Thomas A. Lambert.
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