James Yee went from being a decorated U.S. Army soldier serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to being accused of espionage, spying and aiding the facility’s detainees.
He spoke to students about his experiences Thursday night at the UT Law School Auditorium.
When returning to the U.S. for vacation after serving 10 months as chaplain, Yee was arrested in secret and accused of having classified documents in his backpack. While being transferred to prison Yee was subject to sensory deprivation, a torture tactic. He was held in solitary confinement for 76 days without being charged.
He was exonerated and honorably discharged after deciding to quit the army.
Yee converted to Islam shortly after graduating from West Point. He said it was a way to solidify his monotheistic faith in one God. Yee was hand-picked to serve as a Muslim minister to facility detainees.
While ministering detainees, Yee said he advised commanders on proper religious practices. He made suggestions on treatment of the detainees and spoke out against soldiers violating prisoners’ human rights. Yee said that though he never participated in interrogation tactics, he counseled prisoners on their treatment.
Yee said he witnessed the desecration of the Quran. Prisoners also spoke of sexual harassment by female interferometers and being put in a pentagram while being forced to renounce Allah.
This treatment will not win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, he said.
“People in the military have a gross lack of misunderstanding of the Muslim culture, which is counterproductive,” Yee said.
Kristine Huskey, a clinical law professor, has been representing Guantanamo detainees since 2002. She said she believes any new presidential administration will shut down Guantanamo Bay, because it is not helping the U.S. fight terrorism and is breeding more people who hate America.