Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 15, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

JAMES YEE....Andrew Sullivan is right to be outraged over the military's conduct in the James Yee case:

Very few incidents have made me as angry as the disgraceful, foul and malicious attempt by the U.S. military to accuse Captain James J. Yee, the Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, of treason and espionage. They had no solid evidence, but, at the time, I worried that the story might be true. I feel terrible for leaping to that tentative conclusion. But it got worse. When the espionage charges fell apart, the military then tried to frame Yee for adultery and for downloading porn from the Internet, dragging his family into the entire affair.

It recalled to me the way the military trashes and defames the lives of honorable gay servicemembers. Yesterday, all the charges were dropped. You might not have noticed because the story was buried in most newspapers, unlike the original charges. What I want to know is: who is going to be discharged for this horrendous miscarriage of justice? Who in the military will be held responsible? This incident is particularly noxious at a time when we need to reassure patriotic Muslim-Americans that they are not going to come under clouds of suspicion for their faith or their identity - especially Muslims who are actually serving this country in uniform. This story is a travesty of justice and fairness. And no one really seems to give a damn.

I wish Andrew's outrage wasn't limited to abuses that remind him of mistreatment of gays, but hey. It's a start. And he's absolutely right that this case is an outrage.

I might add that it's not fair to characterize this as a military weakness, either: it's a prosecutorial weakness. I've read any number of cases where federal prosecutors have spent lots of time investigating someone they were certain was dirty, found out they were wrong, and then, in an apparent fit of pique, proceeded to prosecute the poor schmoe anyway for some entirely incidental and trivial offense. Wen Ho Lee is the most famous recent victim of this kind of treatment. My guess is that in their hearts, the prosecutors in the Yee case are still convinced he's guilty even though the evidence clearly indicates otherwise. It's a common human failing, and one the justice system both military and civilian doesn't do enough to rein in.

Kevin Drum 1:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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