Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Saturday, September 20, 2003  

You don't want to jump to conclusions, but this doesn't seem good:

A Muslim chaplain at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo who counseled suspected terrorists and taught fellow troops about Islam is the first known U.S. soldier to be detained in the U.S.-led war on terror.

Yee, of Chinese descent and reportedly from New Jersey, converted to Islam from Christianity in 1991 after his military studies at West Point. He left the Army for Syria, where he received religious training. He returned to the U.S. military soon after.

As an Arabic-speaker, Yee counseled the detainees, advised them on religious matters and made sure all of their dietary needs were met at the base in eastern Cuba.

(Those paragraphs have been rearranged for clarity.)

This comes after two moderate Canadian Muslims were not allowed to enter Florida because, according to one border agent "You've chosen to fly on the wrong day." (It was September 11.) These are exactly the kinds of situations that raise some of the most pronounced debates between the pro-control and the pro-liberty camps (which don't divide along liberal/conservative lines).

There are legal issues here, certainly. Given that we don't know the details in these cases, it's pointless to speculate about whether they were legal actions. But I can tell you what really chafes from the card-carrying ACLU member perspective: it's that the current government actually wants two things: it want to remove liberties and it wants to remain secretive about it.

This Army chaplain, like all the people in Cuba, are being detained without charge. That's two layers of secrecy--the accused doesn't know of what, and we as citizens have no way to get access to the case or find anything out about it.

This amounts to bad faith. If the federal government seeks to remove our rights, it better be transparent about it. If it would rather try to navigate in the waters of very strict regulation and remain secret, that's something else. But I'm reminded when I hear these cases that they're doing both--functioning without sufficient oversight, and subjecting people to legal methods loosened to evade Constitutional requirements.

So I don't know what the story is with this chaplain. But because the Ashcroft Justice Department is so secretive and abusive of citizen rights. I now suspect foul play.

posted by Jeff | 5:07 PM |
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