THE TESTIMONY OF YEE

We now have very clear testimony from someone at Guantanamo Bay who probably saw more of what was going on than anyone else: James Yee, the Muslim chaplain at the base. My paper, the Sunday Times of London, has reprinted part of his must-read book, “For God And Country.” Check it out. Yee is particularly acute about Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander ordered by Rumsfeld to transfer the torture and abuse techniques developed at Gitmo to Abu Ghraib. Neither Miller nor Rumsfeld, of course, have suffered any repercussions for their actions. Only the grunts get scapegoated in Rumsfeld’s military. Miller, according to Yee, was fighting what he saw as a religious war against Islam:

The man in overall charge was Major General Geoffrey Miller, a slight but self-confident Texan in his late fifties. He was later sent to Iraq to make recommendations on improving intelligence collection at Abu Ghraib prison in the months before it became infamous for the maltreatment of its inmates. If there was trouble with the prisoners, guards were supposed to restore order calmly. But Miller said when visiting Camp Delta or whenever seeing troopers around the base: ‘The fight is on!’ This was a subtle way of saying that rules were relaxed and infractions were easily overlooked.
Miller was a devout Christian. In one of the first private conversations that he and I had, he invited me for a stroll under the watchtowers and told me that several of his friends and colleagues had been killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. He had felt a deep anger towards ‘those Muslims’ who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon x97 such anger, he explained, that he had sought counselling with a chaplain. I appreciated his candour but I sensed there was a subtle warning behind his words.

Yee was onto something.

TARGETING FAITH: Miller’s rules at Gitmo were precisely to target the prisoners’ religious faith for random retribution and cruelty:

Violent episodes were increasing. In one incident a guard had to be hauled off a handcuffed detainee whom he was beating on the head with a handheld radio. By the time I arrived the detainee had been taken to the hospital, but his blood was fresh on the ground and what appeared to be large pieces of flesh were soaking in it.

Bad as this violence was, many soldiers discovered a weapon far more powerful than fists: Islam. Because religion was the most important issue for nearly all the prisoners in Camp Delta, it became the most important weapon used against them.

Guards mocked the call to prayer and rattled doors, threw stones against the cages and played loud rockx92nx92roll music as the prisoners prayed.

Knowing that physical contact between unrelated men and women is not allowed under Islamic law, female guards would be exceptionally inappropriate in how they patted down the prisoners or touched them on the way to the showers or recreation. Detainees often resisted and were IRFed.

The guards knew that Muslims believe that the Koran contains the actual words of God and is to be treated with the utmost respect. I never heard of an incident where a detainee hid anything dangerous in the Koran; doing so would be considered an insult. Yet the guards shook the prisonersx92 Korans violently, broke bindings, ripped pages and dropped the book on the floor, all on the pretext of searching them… Translators with the Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) also confirmed that some prisoners were forced to prostrate themselves in the centre of a satanic circle lit with candles. Interrogators shouted at them, ‘Satan is your God, not Allah! Repeat that after me!’

I’m waiting for Michelle Malkin and Heather Mac Donald to describe all of this – which verifies widespread abuse of the Koran at Gitmo – as enemy propaganda. It isn’t. It’s true. Yee knew the truth which was partly why he was disgracefully framed and smeared by the Pentagon. But what matters now is that this kind of abuse be stopped. It only hurts us in the war by making it a battle between Christianity and Islam rather than between freedom and theocracy. And what matters now is that someone be held accountable. Surely we can all agree that the new guidelines for humane treatment of detainees (which were the old ones), set by the Senate, need to be passed by the House. The president’s threatened veto is an open acknowledgment that this administration abuses detainees as a matter of policy and refuses to be reined in. We have to choose between the integrity of an Ian Fishback and the sadism of General Miller, and his enablers, Bush and Rumsfeld. There is no choice, as long as this is still America.

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