By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Berkeley–October 20th–Captain James Yee (ret.), a (third generation) Chinese-American convert to Islam, and, coincidently, a graduate of West Point was subsequently appointed as the Muslim Chaplain at the U.S. Prison Camp at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) after hostilities began with Americaâ€™s â€œWar on Terror.â€ He is now on a book tourâ€“-in support of his book For God and County: Patriotism Under Fire.
At Guantanamo he found himself advising the commanding officers â€“ because of his prior study of Islamic law and customs for over a decade after his conversion. He found the commanding officers heeded him, but the lower ranking officers largely refused his suggestions. Because of his privileged access to the prison population, he was eventually arrested as a â€œcollaboratorâ€ with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and he was tortured in the same manner as his flock. Eventually, he was not charged, but was discharged honorably with especial commendation for his service! [Sic!]
Yee, although Chinese, came from a long-standing (American) military family, but he personally converted to Islam in 1991, and he was able to study Islam rigorously on a long hiatus from the Armed Services.
He discovered that one of the hardest abuses to his religion was that prison authorities disallowed Congregational prayer that â€œis integral to Islam.â€
There were three purposes for the â€œCamp,â€ and other known and secret American confinement compounds around the world: Operations, Detention, and â€œIntelligenceâ€ (Units to Extract Information from captives).
From the testimony of the inmates with whom he personally spiritually advised, religion (Islam) was employed to interrogate and break the hostagesâ€™ will. Yes, the Koran was being utilized at the Castigation Center. Of course the prisoners protested. Hunger strikes were instigated which too often ended in suicide! Islamic cultured was exploited. (U.S.) women were prompted to be interrogators who went so far as to be a party to sexual harassment against their male victims! Documents that have been released through the Freedom of Information Act confirm that these American female inquisitors actually regularly touched the genitals of their detainees while her incarcerated prey was standing in totally nudity. This produces a sense of helplessness that goes against the norms and faith of Muslim societies! The inquirer would â€œbaptizeâ€ the imprisoned as a Christian, and insisted he was no longer a Muslim, and, thereby, was no longer bound by his role as a combatant for his religion! This violates the American Freedom of Religion (the First Amendment to our Constitution!) Now, American soldiers are treating faith as a means for persecution!
In many cases, boys as young as twelve and fourteen were being held in the mesh cages, also!
Captain Yee was given R & R (Rest and Relaxation â€“ what the military calls a vacation). When he disembarked from his plane at the Jacksonville (Fla.) Naval Air Station, he was escorted by a group of individuals who identified themselves as â€œcustom agents.â€ Examining his bags, they claimed he was bearing compromising documents that they, further, accused him of transmitting (this classified) information to adversary agents. He was arrested clandestinely, and was swiftly hustled to a military prison in Charleston (South Carolina). He was held incommunicado for some time before his family discovered his whereabouts through the media.
He was accused of being a spy with the threat of a capital penalty upon conviction, but was never charged, but he was grilled with the death sentence over his head! Like the â€œoffendersâ€ he served at Guantanamo, he was shackled, blindfolded with hearing deprivation — total sensory denial; and, thus, James was thoroughly terrified. He had no rights as those imprisoned at Guantanamo even though he was a U.S. national. He was thrown into solitary confinement for seventy-six days. Then, as quickly, he was released; charged with â€œViolating an Order,â€ but given legal counsel. His lawyer demanded a catalogue of what they had seized. Yet, they had found nothing. There were six delays in the court proceeding before the charges were dropped.
He was appointed a Chaplain, again, at Fort Lewis in Washington (State). At the first opportunity he resigned his commission with an honorable discharge.
â€œThere has been prejudice against Muslim-Americans in this Post-9/11 era.â€ Besides vicious sectarianism, racism has raised its ugly head, too, for Yee was called by some â€œthe Chinese Taliban!â€
As a citizen of the United States of America, he said, â€œNobody [any longer] looks upon us as a leader in human rights.â€ We have to recover this!
When he came to Cuba (where the Guantanamo Naval Base is located), six hundred prisoners where held at Guantanamo. Now, most of those with American citizenship branded as â€œenemy combatantsâ€ have been weeded out of the Camp, and transferred to Charleston (S.C.) where, at least, they are granted (supposedly) their Constitutional rights.