on Friday’s at noon. This was or American-Muslims serving atGuantanamo. Muslim prisoners were conned to their cells andwere denied attendance. There were times when I noticed FBIagents conducting surveillance o our prayer service. I knew theywere FBI when a ew o the translators in Gitmo’s intelligenceoperation pointed them out.The American-Muslim community at Guantanamo Bay oten gottogether or social and chapel ellowship. We enjoyed many potluckdinners that were also attended by non-Muslim riends. This wasour way to enjoy what little ree time we ound. It was certainlya lot more wholesome than drinking ourselves to oblivion at thehandul o bars on the naval base, which is what most o the soldiersdid with their ree time. These gatherings, many o which I hostedat my personal residence, gained the attention o U.S. intelligencepersonnel. Rumours were started that we were a “terrorist sleepercell” gathering to plan subversive activity. People in the intelligenceoperation oten reerred to us as Hamas extremists.American-Muslim translators were also under suspicion. Atleast two were secretly arrested — Airman, Ahmed Al Halabi o the U.S. Air Force and civilian Dept. o Deense translator, AhmedMehalba. Both were Americans sacricing to serve at Guantanamo,and both were also accused by the U.S. government o being parto a subversive spy ring at Guantanamo, o which I was supposedlythe ring leader. I believe this emphasises the amateurism o theintelligence personnel serving at Guantanamo during that time.This culminated with me being secretly arrested. I was alselyaccused o spying, espionage and aiding the enemy. As a result I was jailed or seventy-six days in a maximum security naval brig.
when I was fIrst arrested
by an NCIS (Naval CriminalInvestigative Service) agent, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous.But at the same time I naively believed the matter would be cleared-up quickly — a day or two, i not a ew hours. But when I saw thecharges o espionage, spying, aiding the enemy, mutiny and seditionon the documents, it just blew my mind. I thought the military andthe command was utterly crazy. Then a military prosecutor or thecommand threatened me with the death penalty.I was shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, in the same waythey shackle prisoners in Guantanamo. This was when I denitelyknew something was up. They put me in the back o a truck nextto an armed guard, with two other armed guards in the ront. Thearmed guard put a pair o blackened out, plastic goggles over myeyes so I couldn’t see anything. Then he put these heavy cupping ear-phone devices over my ears, so I now couldn’t hear anything —a type o torturous treatment known as sensorydeprivation. I had no idea where they weretaking me. I believed I was being carted awayto a secret black-site where I might not ever beseen again. I eared being brutally beaten up orbeing atally shot by one o the armed guards. Iknew at that moment that I was essentially being disappeared in America.Neither my wie and daughter, nor mymum and dad, or anyone else knew what hadhappened to me when I didn’t show up on myconnecting fight rom Jacksonville, Florida toSeattle, WA.I ully understood that President Bush haddeclared “enemy combatants” as people whodid not have any rights. He had even declaredthat Geneva Conventions did not apply inGuantanamo. Ater quickly recognising just howsimilar to the prisoners in Guantanamo I wasbeing treated, I eared that all o my rights wouldbe stripped rom me, even i I was a U.S. citizen. It didn’t matter thatI was a third generation American that I had graduated rom theprestigious United States Military Academy at West Point, that Ihad served in the atermath o the First Gul War, or that both o mybrothers were also on active duty in the US army. I eared or my lieat that point.I thought I too would be orever doomed to prison, especiallyater learning that I was being held along side Jose Padilla, YaserHamdi and Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri — all declared by the U.S.government as “enemy combatants” — at the Consolidated NavalBrig in Charleson, SC.
those seventy-sIx days of solItary confInement
were extremely harrowing, to say the least. To begin with, I washeld incommunicado, and thereore denied all contact with my wieand amily. The military even reused my demand that they contactmy wie or amily to inorm them that I was in government custodyas a prisoner.My amily was horried when they learned o my whereabouts—
rom the military, but rom breaking news reports on TV.Initial media coverage was based solely on inormation leaked bythe government almost two weeks ater mydisappearance. My amily watched in panic andear as pictures o me fashed over and over onevery news channel, and alongside media reportsthat accused me o being a Muslim terrorist spythat had inltrated Guantanamo Bay.While all this was happening, I was lockedaway in a concrete cubicle no larger than thecage-like cells in Guantanamo. Marine guardsthreatened to beat me violently, and I was held inisolation or 24-hours a day under the constantwatch o two surveillance video camerasinstalled in the ceiling o my cell.Only later, when I was aorded militarydeense counsel, did an attorney ght to get mea single hour o recreation outside o my cell. Ialso elt utterly violated by the almost daily stripsearches, which I believe were done to humiliateme. Why else would they continuously view theinnermost areas o my private parts both ront
“charges ofespionage, spying,aiding the enemy,mutiny and sedition.then a militaryprosecutor for thecommand threatenedme with the deathpenalty”
James Yee at a rallyfor then presidentialcandidate, BarackObama