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Pentagon closes book on Muslim chaplain

Captain James Yee
The Pentagon’s inspector general has concluded a review of the case of a former Muslim chaplain who was detained and later cleared of espionage charges, saying the Department of Defense acted properly in investigating the U.S. Army chaplain.

“We found that DOD officials acted in good faith and within applicable standards in ordering Chaplain Yee’s initial and continued pretrial confinement, and Chaplain Yee was not targeted because of his religious affiliation,” reads a two-page executive summary of the review involving former army chaplain (and captain) James Yee.

Yee was held at a military brig for 76 days, and the charges against him were dropped in March 2004. The inspector general said an investigation determined in May 2004 that Yee possessed 54 documents with secret information when he was arrested in 2003.

The summary noted two policy violations by military officials regarding Yee. It said a general exceeded his authority when he dismissed the reprimand given Yee for downloading pornography and committing adultery. It also said a letter to the editor written by a public affairs officer violated DOD policy.

While DOD spokesperson lieutenant colonel Brian Maka said Yee’s case is now closed, Yee’s attorney, Eugene R. Fidell, feels differently. “This case will not be over until the Department of the Army apologizes to Chaplain Yee,” Fidell said.

Army officials could not be reached for further comment.

The inspector general’s investigation was launched in response to a request from members of Congress.

Yee, who served in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and received an army commendation for “exceptionally meritorious service,” was honorably discharged in 2005. He lives in Olympia, Washington, and travels to speaking engagements in connection with his 2005 book, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. –Religion News Service

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