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My name is Charles B. Gittings Jr.

I am 56 years old, a fourth-generation Californian, and a third-generation San Franciscan, "Born and Raised". I currently reside in Fort Bragg, California.

I've been a computer programmer/analyst since 1973. I'm divorced, have three grown children, and one grandson as of 2002.07.18.

On my Dad's side, I'm a descendent of the Gittings family of Baltimore, Maryland, which dates back to the 1690's in that city and has been prominent in its history. Our branch of the family were pioneers in the Ohio River Valley during the late 1790's.

One of my great-grandfathers served in the 23rd Ohio Volunteers during the Civil War with two future Presidents, and finished the war as a POW in Libby Prison after being captured at the Battle of Cedar Creek in 1865.

My Dad is a Korean War veteran who was severely wounded in action while serving with the 2nd Infantry Division ( E Co., 23rd Inf. Regt. ) in the grim fighting along the Naktong River. He met my Mom at a USO dance while recuperating at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

On my Mom's side I'm descended from pioneers who went West through the Cumberland Gap with Daniel Boone, and were among the first settlers of what is now Kansas City, Missouri. Another ancestor died heroically at the battle of Guilford Courthouse during the Revolution while standing his ground alone against a British charge. Ma had five brothers who served in either the US Navy or Merchant Marine during WW2. One of them commanded a sub-chaser, one was the Exec on an LSM, and one was on a freighter in the Caribbean that was torpedoed an sunk by a German U-boat.

I mention those details just in case anyone might be inclined to think I have some animus against either the United States or the US military. It just happens that I've studied a great deal of history, including military history, and have no illusions about any of it.

General Sherman had it right:  WAR IS HELL.

As for the United States, we're very far from being the paragons of virtue that our mythology and political rhetoric pretends. People are just people in every time and place, and cultural differences are far more superficial than is commonly thought. We have our own virtues and faults just like everyone else.

I've been keenly interested in history, philosophy, and a great many other things for most of my life, going back to my childhood. I began studying history seriously at age nine with Homer, and the next year I read Caesar. I began my philosophical studies with Plato and the Tao Te Ching in junior high.

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 ]


1996 – 2009.02.04

She was the bestest kitty in the whole wide world.