Charly's Political Biography

I started my adult life at 16 as a tournament Chess player, rising to a USCF rating of 2185 (Expert). Then I switched to playing Bridge, eventually reaching the ACBL rank of Life Master. My computer career began in 1973 at Bank of America. I'm currently unemployed, having been laid off in July 2002.

As for my political views, I'm a registered Democrat for the duration now-- after 15 years of not voting at all on principle. I was a life-long Republican before that, oddly enough... conservative on economics and foreign affairs, libertarian and egalitarian on social issues. But I gradually became nauseated by the growing numbers of racists, fundamentalists, and corporate neo-fascists in the party.

I firmly believe that Lincoln and most of the abolitionists would either be Democrats or Greens if they were alive today. At heart I am a pragmatic anarchist, a humanist, and an internationalist, drawing inspiration from Tom Paine, William Godwin, William Lloyd Garrison, Peter Kropotkin, Leo Tolstoy, Emma Goldman, and Mohandas K. Gandhi, among others.

On 9/11/2001, it was immediately obvious to me the world was facing a crisis on the order of 1914 or 1939, and that the greatest danger by far was the Bush administration. So I resolved to take a more active role in the world and do whatever little bit I could to help deal with the mess. On 11/13/2001, I found out what that was when Bush issued his original military commission order.

So I set out to track the issues of that irresponsible order with the purpose of opposing it. I began researching the Geneva Conventions and a number of other treaties. I wrote a top-of-my-head reaction to the order and sent it to my US representative, Barbara Lee (D-CA, 9th District) in the form of a petition.

When Camp X-Ray started operating, the Bush administration's policies stopped being just bad ideas and started being violations of the Geneva Conventions, and by then I was very alarmed by the administration's blustering autocratic efforts to simply re-write the laws however they please by executive fiat.

So I then turned from the question of what the Geneva Conventions required and took up the question of how they might be enforced. I began with Nuremberg and re-examined the US Supreme Court decision in Ex Parte Quirin.

Soon after, the first habeas petition on behalf of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was filed in Los Angeles -- Coalition of Clergy v. Bush. My take on the situation was that habeas is a convoluted mess of precedents where the government has endless ways of playing games with a case.

My thinking was: the US government is committing flagrant war crimes-- there should be some way to prosecute them as such. So I searched the US code and found 18 USC 2441, the War Crimes Act of 1996. This is a rarity in US law-- a statute which implements an international treaty in the US criminal code. The traditional US view is that our laws are perfectly capable of meeting our treaty obligations as is, a manifestation of the native US ambivalence on treaties; but in 1996, the Congress passed the war crimes act to plug any loopholes against the backdrop of events in Rwanda and Kosovo.

So I decided to pursue a criminal case intending to defend the Geneva Conventions by a direct prosecution of the crimes rather than the highly problematic expedient of asserting the prisoner's rights via habeas, and my news gathering effort became a criminal investigation-- with the Washington Post and New York Times providing my field investigators. I began downloading and excerpting every relevant comment from DoD and White House press conferences from 2001.11.13 forward. I began documenting the events, names, and dates; fleshing out details; researching the legal aspects; and establishing contacts with interested parties and officials.

And I am now working to bring the matter forward in the courts.

Charles Gittings

Fort Bragg, California

[ 2002.12.03, revised 2009.02.06 ]