The Washington Post
For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fireby James Yee
In 2001, Captain James "Yusuf" Yee was commissioned as one of the first Muslim chaplains in the United States Army. After the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, he became a frequent government spokesman, helping to educate soldiers about Islam and build understanding throughout the military. Subsequently, Chaplain Yee was selected to serve as the Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, where nearly 700 detainees captured in the war on terror were being held as "unlawful combatants."
In September 2003, after serving at Guantanamo for ten months in a role that gave him unrestricted access to the detainees--and after receiving numerous awards for his service there--Chaplain Yee was secretly arrested on his way to meet his wife and daughter for a routine two-week leave. He was locked away in a navy prison, subject to much of the same treatment that had been imposed on the Guantanamo detainees. Wrongfully accused of spying, and aiding the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Yee spent 76 excruciating days in solitary confinement and was threatened with the death penalty.
After the U.S. government determined it had made a grave mistake in its original allegations, it vindictively charged him with adultery and computer pornography. In the end all criminal charges were dropped and Chaplain Yee's record wiped clean. But his reputation was tarnished, and what has been a promising military career was left in ruins.
Depicting a journey of faith and service, Chaplain Yee's For God and Country is the story of a pioneering officer in the U.S. Army, who became a victim of the post-September 11 paranoia that gripped a starkly fearful nation. And it poses a fundamental question: If our country cannot be loyal to even the most patriotic Americans, can it remain loyal to itself?
The Washington Post
November 10, 2005
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Read an Excerpt
"There's other things about this place that will be a little harder to take," he [Chaplain Hamza, Yee's predecessor] said, turning toward me in his seat and growing more serious. "I don't want to discourage you on your first night, but you need to be prepared. This is not a friendly environment for Muslims, and I don't just mean for the prisoners." He told me that this assignment had been one of the most difficult that he had ever endured, and not because of the long hours or the disorganization, but because of the anti-Muslim hostility. "You need to watch your back," he said. He explained that when he arrived at Guantanamo three months earlier, the Command Sergeant Major had warned him to be careful, implying that many people who worked in interrogations often took a special interest in Muslim personnel, and the chaplains in particular. "It was helpful information," he said, "and it's worth passing along."
He opened his door. "You'll be fine, but be aware."
Meet the Author
James Yee, a third-generation Chinese-American and a 1990 graduate of West Point, served in the U.S. Army for 14 years, including a tour in Saudi Arabia during the aftermath of the first Gulf War. His spiritual conversion to Islam in 1991 guided his travels to Damascus, Syria, where he studied for four years. He twice traveled to Mecca to make the Haj, the sacred Muslim pilgrimage.
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