Tue, Oct 10, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Lawyer who challenged White House to leave navy

AP , MIAMI

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington earlier this year. Smith, who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the current US administration over tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, has reportedly been passed over for a promotion and will have to leave the Navy.

PHOTO: AP

The US Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the administration of US President George W. Bush over military tribunals for detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military, the Miami Herald reported on Sunday.

Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military's "up or out" promotion system. Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to commander.

He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden's driver.

"It was a pleasure to serve," Swift told the newspaper.

He added he would have defended Hamdan even if he had known it would cut short his Navy career.

"All I ever wanted was to make a difference -- and in that sense I think my career and personal satisfaction has been beyond my dreams," Swift said.

A graduate of the University of Seattle School of Law, Swift plans to continue defending Hamdan as a civilian.

Hamdan was captured along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while fleeing the US invasion that was a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hamdan has acknowledged that bin Laden paid him US$200 a month as his driver on a Kandahar farm, but he says he never joined al-Qaeda or engaged in military fighting.

Hamdan turned to civilian courts to challenge the constitutionality of his war-crimes trial, a case that eventually led the Supreme Court to rule that Bush had outstripped his authority when he created ad hoc military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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