Andy Worthington, author and filmmaker, on Guantanamo and Charly Gittings

RIP Charly Gittings: We’ve Just Lost One of the Good Guys

I suggest going to Andy’s site and reading the entire article.

’m saddened to report that on the night of July 14, Charly Gittings, the most tenacious opponent of the Bush administration and its crimes, passed away at the age of 57. I had never met Charly, but we had been in email contact since November 2008, and I had been aware of his work before that time. No one who has ever researched Guantánamo can have failed, at some point, to have come across Charly’s extraordinary “Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions” (PEGC), a vast archive of documents relating to the Bush administration crimes, consisting of legal opinions, memoranda, press statements, from the courts, the White House, the DoD, the DoJ, the State Department — all the evidence required to convict senior officials of war crimes.

At the foot of this post, I reproduce Charly’s “Political Biography,” in which he explained how his project began on November 13, 2001, when President Bush issued his original “Military Order – Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism,” a vile document that, years later, I too realized was central to the administration’s plot to shred every law that protected us from ourselves, and that protected our enemies — or random strangers — from torture, arbitrary detention and murder. Charly, however, was there at the beginning, urging his fellow Americans to uphold the laws they claimed to admire.

When I first struck up contact with Charly, he sent me a wonderful email that, on re-reading, captures his dedication to the law, and also sheds light on how, like many sensitive people in a world that has become increasingly coarse, violent and uncaring, he found it hard to dwell too much on the stories of the men — and boys — subjected to the Bush administration’s lawless and brutal experiment in unfettered executive power, and focused instead on law and policy, and his unwavering belief that America was led by war criminals.

Glad to meet you! I’ve heard of you and your book … I was very glad that you wrote your book, because I’d been studiously avoiding the idea of trying to write it myself for five years or so but definitely thought it would be good for someone to do it. My main focus has always been the legal and policy issues, and much as I sympathize with the detainees on a human level, the details of individual cases tend to overwhelm me a bit. I remember how I felt in early 2002 when I saw the pictures of the first detainees being transported to Gitmo — that told me everything I needed to know about Gitmo right then and there. I do pay attention, but have to keep a balance lest I drown in details … you probably get what I mean better than most would.

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