I was most saddened when Candace told me that Charles Gittings passed away at the extremely untimely age of 57. Charly (whom I interviewed here) epitomized the concept of "citizen activist.".
Charly's Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions was a kind of one-man-show. It served as both an archive of the misdeeds of those of in power and a back-drop for Charly's one of a kind advocacy. Despite not having legal training, he submitted a number of amicus curae briefs in major "war on terror" cases that were so brilliant that they downright sung. I can only wish we saw so much more of.that kind of thing; maybe nothing would be any different... but if there were 5 more Charlies out there... or 10... one can only imagine...
It's one thing for "the professionals" to use our professional skills and training to try to represent individuals who have found themselves ground to dust under the weight of "the system," which always seems so much more concerned with "the political price" of following the law than behaving with any sense of right or wrong or justice,.. or even just plain following the law. Those of us who still believe in the system were wondering just who would step up and take on the role that we fancied the government itself is supposed to take, to wit, standing up for the law because it's the law. Obviously, in my cynical moments (that would be most waking hours these days) I would suggest that "the law" is little more than a subterfuge by the rich and powerful to assert that the outcomes they desire are "legally justified," complete with outcome (Antonin Scalia) oriented (Scam Alito) judges (John Roberts) to tell us that the outcomes the powerful desire are "correct" and "legally proper." And certainly, the last 8 or 10 years have shown us that this is just too perilously close to true just too often.
But Charly stood, all too often alone, weakened by his medical state, perhaps, but loudly and clearly nonetheless, and just said "Hey wait a minute! The Government may have guns, but it is still as subject to law as any other institution or individual." And he tried to keep the Government and its officials honest. Time will tell whether anyone "who matters" heard him, but I sure did, and I know other people of goodwill have as well.
Charly will be missed. Rest in peace, Charles Gittings..