Sunday, November 30, 2003

Capt. James Yousef Yee and the crimes at Guantanamo Bay

Capt. James Yousef Yee, a former Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay who was charged with espionage, has been released after spending over two months in military prison. It turns out he wasn't a spy after all, but the U. S. government investigation has supposedly turned up evidence that has led to him being charged with adultery and downloading pornography on a government-issued computer. Adultery! Downloading pornography! Sullying a government-owned computer! Ashcroft will be apoplectic! It's impossible to imagine that anyone in the Army would do such vile things. Yee was originally charged with disobeying orders, mishandling classified information, and stealing classified information on behalf of suspected members of al-Qaeda and Taliban who he had counseled in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. Reading between the lines it is fairly obvious that his real crime was taking his duties of chaplaincy too seriously and actually trying to help some of the prisoners, which probably rubbed some Army hard-ass the wrong way. It is also possible that he was arrested to preclude him from speaking out on the horrible conditions faced by the prisoners (he had sketches of the prison conditions, conditions which are the real pornography). The new charges are fairly obviously intended to save the Army some embarrassment, but just emphasize the ridiculousness of what they have done. If they are so concerned about adultery and pornography, they should start by investigating all their generals. They have a great fix for the chaplaincy problem: the replacement Muslim chaplain will not be allowed to meet with the prisoners! Senior British judge Lord Johan Steyn, the third most senior British judge and someone who presumably doesn't talk out of the top of his wig, recently said:

"The purpose of holding the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was and is to put them beyond the rule of law, beyond the protection of any courts, and at the mercy of victors."

and:

"The blanket presidential order deprives them all of any rights whatsoever. As a lawyer brought up to admire the ideals of American democracy and justice, I would have to say that I regard this as a monstrous failure of justice."

He said the suspects were being held at Guantanamo Bay in conditions of "utter lawlessness". All this nonsense about Capt. Yee obscures the fact that real crimes under international law are being committed by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. How did the United States so lose its way?

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