Charles B. Gittings Jr.; ran Web site dedicated to stopping prisoner abuse
By Richard A. Serrano
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Charles B. Gittings Jr., 57, who for nearly nine years ran a Web site dedicated to stopping prisoner abuse in the war on terrorism, died July 14 at his home in Fort Bragg, Calif. He had cancer.
Although he was not a lawyer, Mr. Gittings had a lifelong interest in military tactics and law that led him to become an invaluable resource to some of the nation’s greatest experts in the field.
Not long after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Gittings created the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions, a Web site he ran from his home compiling torture memos, court filings, amicus briefs and other evidence of war crimes.
At the time, Mr. Gittings was divorced and had lost his job as a computer programmer. He decided to put his knowledge to work helping the lawyers represent the detainees.
“I was resolved to do whatever I could to help in this crisis,” he said in a recent interview. “You can never prove these things, but I do think I made a difference.”
His evidentiary material was often used by lawyers representing detainees to challenge the George W. Bush administration’s justification for harsh treatment and lengthy sentences without trial for many of the prisoners captured in the war on terrorism.
After President Obama took office in January 2009 and failed to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, Mr. Gittings turned his attention toward the new administration as well.
“I thought things would get a lot better under Obama,” he said in the interview. “But they’re still having these illegal kangaroo courts and the so-called military commissions, and they’re still doing indefinite detentions without charges. And those are war crimes.”
Charles Benjamin Gittings Jr. was born in San Francisco.
Survivors include three children and his parents.