[font=system]those who know me know that i have long been appalled at the situation at guantanamo - that prisoners have been kept there without charge for over 2 years now is an international disgrace. there has been a lot of speculation here in the media over whether or not the prisoners at guantanamo have been abused as were the prisoners at abu gahrib. here is a story about guantanamo that begs an answer to the question "who will protect the innocent??"
accused us traitor back at work but reputation, career ruined
kerry o'brien: now to the extraordinary case of us army chaplain james yee.
last september chaplain yee was arrested and denounced as a traitor, accused of espionage and treason while working as a muslim chaplain at the military prison camp in guantanamo bay, cuba.
he was shackled and thrown in solitary confinement - there was even talk by prosecutors of seeking the death penalty.
now, fast forward to this month, and chaplain yee is back at work at a military base in washington state, his record wiped clean but his reputation, his family and his career, shattered.
at a time when the us military faces harsh criticism for prisoner treatment, washington correspondent jill colgan reports on how it treated one of its own.
jill colgan: for more than two years, the us military has held prisoners here at guantanamo bay without trial.
faced with international criticism, camp commanders have sought to present a picture of humane conditions -among them, the prisoners' right to religious freedom.
that included giving the mostly muslim prisoners their own muslim chaplain.
(footage of chaplain yee being commended by us marine stating:
"i know, but i think you need to take a break because you work hard.
and i appreciate all the work you do, but...")
jill colgan: the chaplain being commended for his fine work is captain james yee, but just months after this footage was taken he was shackled in a naval brig accused of treason.
eugene fidell, attorney: the very notion that you could take a westpoint graduate and a chaplain born in the united states, brother of another westpoint graduate, brother of yet another army officer, a physician, and treat that person for no good reason as public enemy number one and potential candidate for the death chamber, really is one of the most disturbing things that i've ever had to confront in my law practice.
jill colgan: chaplain yee's chinese-american parents were born in the us and raised their five children here in springfield, new jersey.
his father joseph had been in the military and all three sons followed suit.
joseph yee, father: he's very laid back and he sticks with the rules and he tried to treat everyone the same.
he just an all-around american boy.
jill colgan: during his time in the army, james yee went to saudi arabia and became enamoured with islam.
he left the army and became a muslim in the mid-'90s, studying islam in syria and marrying a syrian woman.
in 2000, he heard the us military was looking for muslim chaplains and rejoined the army.
joseph yee: he believed in islam and he believed in the army, and that's what he wanted to do.
jill colgan: when chaplain yee was sent to work at the terrorist prison camp at guantanamo bay, the military put their muslim chaplain on display for the visiting media - proof they were catering to prisoners' religious needs.
under the watchful eye of an army observer, chaplain yee told the abc his loyalties lay with the military first.
reporter: do you find a clash between your role as chaplain and you personally, in knowing that the people here haven't been convicted of anything?
chaplain james yee, april 2003: professionals never allow personal things to affect the way they perform a job.
if they do, then they're not professional.
jill colgan: yet it appears the military thought chaplain yee was getting too close to the muslim inmates.
jill colgan: when he returned to the us mainland in september, chaplain yee was arrested at jacksonville airport in florida with a backpack of documents.
eugene fidell: in fact, what chaplain yee had in his backpack were materials he'd gathered from the internet - totally unclassified -- for a graduate school course he was taking in middle eastern politics.
jill colgan: the train of events had started.
thrown into a naval brig in solitary confinement, he spent 76 days in jail.
eugene fidell: there were in the air, let's say, allegations that he'd committed espionage, spying, mutiny and sedition.
it was a real grab bag of charges.
fong yee, mother: i was shocked, i was surprised, and i said, "it's not true."
jill colgan: just two days before his arrest, james yee had been given a performance assessment which stated his dedication and commitment to the mission of the the joint task force is unquestioned.
his parents had already been sent a letter of commendation saying their son was making a great contribution to our nation.
james, it said, is truly making a difference.
it was signed by major general jeffrey miller, then the camp commander and now the general at the centre of the abu ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in iraq.
it was major general miller who had chaplain yee confined to a military brig.
is it possible that, in fact, your son did try to assist some of the inmates at guantanamo?
that perhaps he was either responsible for helping them or aiding and abetting them in some way?
joseph yee: no, i think it's just that he was trying to get them reasonable treatment.
he wanted them to be treated like human beings.
jill colgan: eventually, the allegations of treason and spying disappeared and chaplain yee was quietly released.
the military never presented evidence he'd held classified documents and the case never went to trial.
eugene fidell: we really don't know what triggered this whole incident.
i think that the people at guantanamo bay were on a hair-trigger.
i think they were in a state of hyper-vigilance.
i suspect they...
you know, sometimes people see spies everywhere.
joseph yee: the whole administration is paranoid about muslims.
they won't admit they profiled him, but i think they did - picked him up strictly because he was a muslim and asian american.
jill colgan: the us military has refused to explain what happened to its case, hinting they did not release chaplain yee because they thought he was innocent but because they could not prove his guilt.
yet the military had not finished with the chaplain.
instead of charges of espionage, they did charge him with adultery and accessing pornography on a computer at guantanamo bay.
they even offered a female soldier immunity to testify against him.
they're charges rarely pursued by the military and certainly unrelated to espionage, but likely to maximise the humiliation of chaplain yee and to discredit him.
in the end, even the written reprimand he was given on those charges was overturned in april.
his record was wiped clean and he was sent back to work as a chaplain on the us mainland in may.
jill colgan: his parents are struggling to pay $200,000 worth of legal fees.
joseph yee: i've lost faith in the military, the way they operate and the administration that we have running this country now.
jill colgan: there is a military gag order on chaplain yee, leaving him unable to speak for himself and although he has returned to his duties, his career will remain shadowed by allegations he was a traitor.