James J. Yee is a former US Army Chaplain and graduate of West Point who served as the Muslim Chaplain for the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that would become controversial for its treatment of detainees designated as "enemy combatants" by the U.S. government. While ministering to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Captain Yee advised camp commanders on detainee religious practices and objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which the prisoners were subjected.
After being officially recognized twice for outstanding performance, Captain Yee was arrested and imprisoned in a Naval brig for 76 days in September 2003 while being falsely accused of spying, espionage, and aiding the alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners. He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to the same sensory deprivation techniques that were being used against the prisoners in Cuba that he had been ministering to.
After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. With his record wiped clean, Chaplain Yee was reinstated to full duty at Fort Lewis, Washington. He tendered his resignation from the U.S. Army and received an Honorable Discharge on January 7, 2005. Upon separation he was awarded with a second Army Commendation medal for "exceptionally meritorious service."
Chaplain Yee's gripping account of his Guantanamo experience and struggle for justice has been recently published and is entitled For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. The Washington Post called it "required reading for all U.S. officials waging war on Islamist terrorists." For this work, Yee received the Exceptional Communicator Award from New America Media in Jan 2006.
Chaplain Yee is a third-generation Chinese American who converted to Islam in April of 1991. After serving in the aftermath of the first Gulf War as a Patriot Missile Fire Control Officer, he traveled to Damascus, Syria studying the Arabic language and the traditional Islamic sciences. Four years of intensive study led to a Certificate of Islamic Studies equivalent to a graduate degree. An endorsement from the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council (AMAF&VAC) brought Chaplain Yee back to active duty as a U.S. Army Muslim Chaplain in January 2001.
Following September 11, 2001, Chaplain Yee represented Muslims in the military "with great distinction" handling a multitude of national and global media requests. He endeavored to educate soldiers about Islam by building bridges of understanding.
In June 2006, Chaplain Yee earned his Masters degree in International Relations. He now lectures about his harrowing ordeal, Guantanamo Bay, Islam, Asian-American and religious diversity issues, and the challenges of protecting both national security and civil liberties.
He has appeared on national and global news programs including The O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC's Hardball, CNN Paula Zahn Now, Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, PBS Religion and Ethics, Al-Jazeera's From Washington, Democracy Now, NPR All Things Considered, MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson, CSPAN-2 After Words, ABC Australia's The 7:30 Report, UK Sky World News Tonight, and BBC World Service.
Chaplain Yee has recently made presentations on Capitol Hill to congressional staff members, at Harvard University, Dartmouth, Duke, Northwestern University and several other academic institutions of higher learning.