A former U.S. Army Muslim chaplain who once was charged with spying and threatened with a court martial has been elected as a Barack Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August.
Former Army Capt. James Yee was elected Saturday at the 9th District convention in Thurston County in Washington state after he found himself speaking unexpectedly in counterpoint to another celebrity, actor Ted Danson of "Cheers" fame, a backer of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Danson dropped in at the last minute at the behest of Clinton's state campaign to give a speech, but Obama's people, including Yee, were in greater numbers.
Yee was returning from the U.S. detention center for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003 when a U.S. Customs agent in Jacksonville, Fla., discovered a list of names of Guantanamo detainees in his luggage. He was jailed and held in solitary confinement for months before the military dropped the charges and discharged him honorably. In a book, Yee blamed the episode on the anti-Muslim attitude of Guantanamo's commander, Major Gen. Geoffrey Miller.
"I came out and basically reiterated that Sen. Obama is really the only candidate that consistently campaigns on rejecting torture without exception, on closing Guantanamo Bay, restoring habeas (corpus) and adhering to the Geneva Conventions," Yee said Monday. He added that he sees himself as "living proof that civil liberties have been eroded since 9/11" because of what he calls "fear-mongering politics."
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