THE RULE OF LAW ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Charles D. Swift
Military Defense Attorney for Salim Hamdan, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
An interview with Charles D. Swift conducted on March 23 and 24, 2011 by Ronald J. Grele for the Columbia Center for Oral History, Rule of Law Oral History Project.
Charles D. Swift was Chief Defense Counsel in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a Supreme Court case that concerned the detention of Guantánamo Bay prisoner Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. Swift and the Hamdan legal team successfully argued that the military commission to try Hamdan was illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions. The Court’s decision resulted in the Bush administration’s approval, and Congress’ passage, of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Highlights of this interview include discussions of Swift’s experiences in the U.S. Navy, the origins of Middle East instability, the rules of engagement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, previous Supreme Court cases regarding military commissions, Article 36 and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, Swift’s travels in Yemen, and detainee conditions at Guantánamo Bay.