‘Islamophobia in America’ lecture at CSUSB brings James Yee


Former U.S. Army Capt. James J. Yee will speak at Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday, Feb. 7, about his experiences as a prisoner in a U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval brig when he was falsely accused of espionage and aiding the Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners in 2003.

James Yee For God and Country book cover.

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The presentation, which is part of the Conversations on Diversity lecture series sponsored by CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee, will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center. It is free and open to the public; parking at the university is $5 per vehicle.

After serving in the aftermath of the first Gulf War as a Patriot missile fire control officer, Yee studied the Arabic language and the traditional Islamic sciences in Damascus, Syria.

After four years of intensive study, he earned the equivalent of a graduate degree. An endorsement from the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council brought Yee back to active duty as a U.S. Army Muslim chaplain in January 2001.

A third-generation Chinese American who had converted to Islam in 1991, Yee served as the Muslim chaplain for the U.S. Guantanamo Bay prison camp that became controversial for its alleged treatment of detainees designated as “enemy combatants” by the U.S. government.

While ministering to prisoners there, Yee advised camp commanders of the detainees’ religious practices and objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which the prisoners were reportedly subjected.

Despite Yee’s official commendation twice for exemplary performance and conduct during his military service, he was arrested and charged with mishandling classified information and lying to investigators, then placed in solitary confinement. He was reportedly subjected to the same sensory deprivation techniques used on the prisoners in Cuba to whom he had been ministering.

The West Point Academy graduate spent 76 days detained in the U.S. Navy brig. After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. With the slate wiped clean, Yee was reinstated to full duty at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Yee resigned from the U.S. Army and received an honorable discharge on Jan. 7, 2005. Upon separation, he was awarded a second Army commendation medal for “exceptionally meritorious service.”

CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee has presented the Conversations on Diversity lecture series since 2005 to encourage dialogue among students, staff, faculty and the community about a variety of diverse issues.

Other co-sponsors include the university’s academic computing and media department; the Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies; College of Natural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, communication studies, human resources, Pfau Library, sociology and the Veterans Success Center.

For more information about the lecture or to request special accommodations, contact Twillea Evans-Carthen at (909) 537-5138 or Mary Texeira at (909) 537-5547.

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.