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Bush Policy Encourages Anti-American Sentiment
By Denise Magditch

Ever since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has fostered suspicion among the citizens of the United States with their "War on Terror". Immediately after the war and beyond, anyone who looks, acts or might think like a foreigner could be a terrorist. The Bush administration has scared the American public into fearing their own neighbors. Americans began wondering: if someone is different, will they attack? What happens when a power-hungry administration turns its people upon one of its own officers?

Captain James Yee, a Chinese-American Muslim chaplain in the United States military, was accused of, among other things, espionage. He had been attending to Iraqi prisoners as a clergyman at a U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay, when he came under suspicion of possibly assisting the terrorists. He was arrested on September 10th, 2003 in Jacksonville, Florida when he was coming home on leave. Yee was then sent to a military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Detained for 76 days with no evidence of spy activity coming to light, the charges were whittled down to simply mishandling classified documents. Tossing in a little legal spice, accusations flew that Yee had pornography on his computer and had committed adultery with a female officer. Both of these added charges are embarrassing to a military officer, as it is considered conduct unbecoming of a military officer of the United States.1 By March, all the charges had been dropped and Yee was free to go. He still faced the possibility of a minor pay cut or duty restrictions. Nothing was ever found to prove that any of the charges had been accurate.

It is true, however, that Captain James Yee was certified as a Muslim imam by the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences.2 It is also true that Yee’s religious credentials were also endorsed by the American Muslim Council’s Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Office.3 This, however, is not enough to wrongfully imprison an officer of our own army for 76 days and then return him home to his wife, Huda, and their four-year-old daughter, Sarah, with an "I’m sorry." The Bush administration, with the war on terror that they have so righteously upheld, has helped to commit this humiliating blunder. "I think it's quite disgraceful that this officer's reputation was tarnished in a way that can probably never be repaired because of that," Eugene Fidell, Yee’s defense attorney, said.1 This has happened before.

Consider the case of Wen Ho Lee, a military scientist who worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In 1999, Lee was arrested and detained for allegedly stealing secrets on nuclear-weapons design. No further evidence was obtained, and Lee was set free. Lee, like Captain James Yee, was a prisoner solely based upon a suspicion. Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. In between 70-90% of detainees and prisoners are wrongfully arrested and imprisoned, kept from their country and family.

The Bush administration has gone too far to keep the American public fearful of their neighbors. It is time that peace and truth take the place of fear.

1 Muslim Chaplain Faces Army Hearing,, 30 January 2004
2 Islamic Clerics at Guantanamo: Worrisome Ties, Newsweek, 27 September 2003
3 Islamic Clerics at Guantanamo: Worrisome Ties, Newsweek, 27 September 2003

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