Pin It

Yes, Virginia: We Do Torture 

Former Army chaplain James Yee took the fall for Gitmo


During a week when President Bush rather inelegantly declared that the United States "does not torture people," the unjust treatment of Army chaplain James Yee seems especially poignant. "I don't know if the White House is playing with word semantics or what," Yee says by phone shortly after the president's statements, "but from my experience, what I became aware of down in Guantánamo at a minimum met the threshold of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

There are few more entitled to comment on U.S. torture than Yee, a graduate of West Point and winner of two medals for exceptional service. While ministering to the alleged al Qaida and Taliban terrorists of Cuba's Guantánamo Bay detention camp and acting as staff adviser for detainee religious practices, Yee openly objected to abuses inflicted on the camp's prisoners. Upon reentry to the U.S., he was surprised to be found in possession of a list of Guantánamo detainees and interrogators. Yee was subsequently charged with sedition, spying, espionage and aiding the enemy.

Transferred to a naval brig in South Carolina, Yee was forced into solitary confinement for 76 days and made to undergo sensory deprivation. More than two months later, all criminal charges against him were dropped. Yee was welcomed back to the Army. He immediately resigned.

Yee has written a book, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire, outlining the harsh conditions of maximum-security units in Guantánamo's Camp Delta, as well as his own inhumane treatment—an experience for which he has yet to receive an apology. He sees his writing and lecturing less as a healing agent for his own scars than as an imperative message to a new generation. "Ultimately," he says, "it will be these young men and women who will have to step up and redirect our country towards one that values the ideals that are embodied in our Constitution."

And as for the claim that the U.S. does not torture people? "It's a surety that we'll look back on Guantánamo," Yee says, "as being one of the darkest black spots in the history of our country, that's for certain."

Chaplain James Yee lectures on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Cooperage of Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 8pm. Free. 707.664.4129.

  • Former Army chaplain James Yee took the fall for Gitmo


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Features

  • The Power of Poop

    Researchers have discovered an innovative way to make hydrogen fuel from sewage and sunlight
    • Jul 9, 2014
  • Gorilla Warfare

    Appreciating the cultural phenomenon of 'Planet of the Apes'
    • Jul 2, 2014
  • The Hippie Underground

    Vinyl records unearthed at 1960s commune reveal eclectic tastes
    • Jun 25, 2014
  • More »

More by Gabe Meline

Find It

Submit an event

Boho Beat

July 10—20: Festival del Sole in Napa

July 10: Janiva Magness at KRSH

July 11: El Radio Fantastique at Aubergine

More »

Facebook Activity

Most Commented

  • Debriefer: June 4, 2014

    BottleRock delivers the goods; SRJC's quiet suit
    • Jun 4, 2014
  • No Peeking

    Details and ramifications of Carrillo's not guilty verdict
    • Apr 30, 2014
  • More »


Read more @nbaybohemian

Copyright © 2014 Metro Newspapers. All rights reserved.

Website powered by Foundation