5 Spot | West Point graduate James Yee | 5 Spot | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

5 Spot | West Point graduate James Yee 

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James Yee, West Point graduate, Army captain, and author of For God and Country: Patriotism Under Fire, is a former Muslim chaplain ministering to Guantanamo Bay prisoners. In 2003, he was secretly arrested and accused of spying, espionage and aiding the enemy. After spending 76 days in solitary confinement in a South Carolina prison, all charges were dropped. He recently discussed his experiences at the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Do you think Guantanamo is doing America more harm or good?
Guantanamo Bay certainly contributes to the all-time high anti-American sentiment that exist in the world today, and its existence helps recruit people to extremist ideologies. Guantanamo will be forever a black mark on the history of the United States.

Did you receive an apology from the U.S. government?

Why do you think you were targeted and charged with these crimes?
For my faith, ethnicity and patriotism.

What did you think about while in solitary confinement?
While isolated in prison for 76 days, I worried most about my family. I immediately recognized after being subjected to sensory deprivation that I was being treated exactly like an “enemy combatant.”

What can citizens do to alleviate injustices toward Guantanamo detainees and Muslims in general?
Every city, including Salt Lake, can work toward properly educating its people about issues that affect our nation. These issues include how our nation treats prisoners held in the custody of the U.S military, whether here or abroad, and the implications behind the policies the current administration had implemented post 9/11. Also, cities should be encouraging everyone to embrace the American value of diversity, one of our nation’s greatest strengths. Finally, efforts to properly educate others about diverse cultures to include Islam should be supported.

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E. Thomas Nelson

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