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March 11, 2007

Gitmo chaplain

The Talking Dog has a fascinating interview with Captain James Yee a Westpoint graduate who served as a Muslim chaplain ministering to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. After 10 months of service at Gitmo, Yee was arrested while traveling back to the United States for a two-week leave. He was accused of espionage, which carries the death penalty. Yee spent 76 days in solitary confinement in the brig in Charlestown, South Carolina. Eventually, all charges against Yee were dropped and he received an honorable discharge. Yee has recently published a book about his experiences: For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.

Here's what Yee has to say about the child and adolescent prisoners he met at Gitmo:

As for the juveniles, there were at least three boys in Camp Iguana between 12 and 14 years old. There were at least 6 others, by the way, who were 15 or 16, definitely younger than 18, in general population. The three in Camp Iguana I met weekly. We were led to believe they were "hard core terrorists" but this was utterly ridiculous. The guards in charge of them would frequently discipline them with "time-outs" just as many American parents discipline their own children.

I spent a fair amount of time with the youngsters; they learned to throw footballs, and I watched them kick soccer balls- occasionally over the fence and into the ocean. These kids were not the hard-core super-terrorists capable of slitting anyone's throat, as we were led to believe, and as portrayed by our military and governmental officials. Nevertheless, it was no fun and games for these pre-teens boys. They were subjected to harsh interrogations just like the other prisoners. Several of these interrogations were taking place when I would come visit and thereby prevent me from accessing Camp Iguana.

Yee has much more to say about the deteriorating conditions he observed at GMTO, abuse of the Koran, harsh investigation techniques, and his own ordeal at the hands of the US government.

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Comments

Yet another leftist America hater swallowing the claims of someone with a position contrary to Bush. I don't understand why it's so hard for people to grasp the idea that the American military can do no wrong. This is especially true when an offshore prison was chosen deliberately to avoid any legal hurdles. Leftist America haters need to stop sipping French whine and realize that the government is to be given the benefit of the doubt in all circumstances. If you don't, we've got a ticket to Gitmo with your name on it.

Tyler, that's not a bad try at General J.C. Christian type discourse, but I think you go too far with "French whine." That's actually kinda clever, which is a dead giveaway.

72 days in solitary confinement! Jesus! Yee's got a lot more mental fortitude than I.

Er, 76.

*Can't hear John Protevi because he's listening to Hulk Hogan's theme music on endless repeat and waving a Bush edition American flag like a monkey.*

This throws the "Immigration Prisons" into a harsher light. As news of abuses trickle in, do you think we'll hear similar news?

I can only imagine how hard this must be for Yee. To have spent time with those kids, and know they are still there in those conditions...

Who saw C-Span book-TV, yesterday with the authors of "Torture Taxi" -On the trail of the CIA's extraordinary rendition.

Has anyone read it?

As long as the prisoners are not being tortured or starved I remain unmoved by their plight.

Robert O'Brien -

Would it be OK if another country held you as a prisoner for years without trial?

John McCain held a forum in my town today. I went to ask him whether as president he would end "extraordinary rendition" and close the CIA secret prisons. I didn't get to ask, but fortunately someone else had a similar question. McCain said he would end rendition and close Guantanamo. He would bring the prisoners to Fort Leavenworth.

Ask your senators to support S. 576 and your representative to support H.R. 1415. These would (1) restore the right of habeas corpus for those detained by the United States, (2) prohibit testimony gained by torture or coercion, (3) narrow the definition of enemy combatant, (4) reassert the Geneva Conventions, and (5) provide for expedited judicial review of Military Commissions Act.

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