Charles D. Swift (born 1961) was a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in the U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General's Corps and Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law. During the course of his Navy career, he was assigned to the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions. He is most famous for having served as defense counsel for Salim Ahmed Hamdan. Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden captured during the invasion of Afghanistan, was charged in July 2004 with conspiracy to commit terrorism. As Hamdan's legal counsel, Swift, together with the Seattle law firm of Perkins Coie and Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal, appealed Hamdan's writ of habeas corpus petition to the U. S. Supreme Court. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557, 126 S.Ct. 2749 (2006), the justices ultimately held that the military commission to try Salim Hamdan was illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions as well as the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Ultimately, Swift was passed over (the second time) for promotion and as a result had to retire under the military's "up or out" promotion system which mandates retirement for officers passed over twice. Swift stated he learned of being passed over two weeks after the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan's favor, a timing Swift's supervisor called "quite a conicidence." Other commentators such as the New York Times and Vanity Fair reported that the timing was not a coincidence, suggesting it was politically motivated; a charge that Deputy Judge Advocate General Charles J. Dunlap Jr. later said was without evidence.
Born in 1961, Charles Swift is a native of Franklin, North Carolina. Following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984, Swift served in a variety of surface warfare billets as described in the below table. In 1991, he left active service to attend Seattle University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. Resuming active service in 1994, he affiliated with the navy’s Judge Advocate General's Corps (1994–present). In 1999, LCDR Swift received a Master of Law Degree in litigation with high honors from the Temple University Beasley School of Law through a scholarship from the U.S Navy Judge Advocate General. A comprehensive biography can be found here (website for the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy, different from LCDR Swift's commissioning source). From fall 2007 to spring 2008, Swift taught at Emory Law School as a Visiting Associate Professor and Acting Director of its newly established International Humanitarian Law Clinic.
Summary of LCDR Swift's assignments: