GITMO Military Arrests

A Muslim Chaplain in the US Army who was administering to the detainees at the Guantanoamo Bay camp was arrested recently.

The Muslim military chaplain who ministered to suspected Al Qaeda terrorists at a U.S. detention center in Cuba can be confined under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for up to two months without being charged.

Army Capt. Yousef Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Col. David McWilliams, spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Sunday in a telephone interview from command headquarters in Miami that military authorities are awaiting the investigation’s outcome.

He said the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division was in charge of the investigation.

Is that what’s known as an Article 32 hearing?

[…]McWilliams refused to characterize in any way what Yee is suspected of having done. He said the chaplain raised the suspicions of U.S. Customs officials when he arrived in Jacksonville on a flight from Guantanamo Bay.

A senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saturday that FBI agents confiscated documents Yee was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.

[…]On Sept. 15 a military magistrate determined that there was sufficient reason to hold Yee in confinement, McWilliams said, pending outcome of the investigation.

Yee is being held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. — the same place where officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who allegedly fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago gang member charged with plotting to detonate a bomb.

McWilliams said a military lawyer has been assigned Yee, but the spokesman would not identify the lawyer.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, the military organization that runs the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, will decide on the next step in the Yee case after he receives results of the Pentagon investigation, McWilliams said.

If charges are brought, Miller could decide to proceed to a court-martial, recommend administrative action or opt not to pursue any charges.

Today, there was news of two more arrests of military personnel, one of whom appears to be an Arab-American from his name and the other’s identity is not known.

An Air Force airman who had worked at the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base has been charged with espionage and aiding the enemy — charges that could carry the death penalty — a military spokesman said Tuesday.

Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi worked as an Arabic-language translator at the prison camp, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi knew Yousef Yee, the Muslim chaplain at the prison arrested earlier this month, but it was unclear if the two arrests were linked, Shavers said.

The enlisted airman has been charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order, and nine counts of making a false official statement.

Espionage and aiding the enemy are military charges that can carry the death penalty, said Eugene Fidell, a civilian lawyer in Washington and president of the National Institute of Military Justice. The commanding general in charge of al-Halabi’s case would have to decide whether military prosecutors could seek the death penalty in his case, Fidell said.

If the death penalty is an option, the 12-member military jury that hears the case would have to vote unanimously to impose it, Fidell said.

Al-Halabi, who was based at Travis Air Force Base in California and assigned to a logistics unit there, is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Shavers said.

Earlier Tuesday, senior military officials told Fox News that a member of the Navy was also in custody, under suspicion of espionage and possible improper communications with the camp’s detainees. The Navy member’s role at the camp has not been disclosed.

Fox News has learned al-Halabi and the Navy member both were detained roughly two weeks before Yee was arrested. Officials said the two were being surveyed for some time before Yee came to their attention.

It seems that al-Halabi would face charges in a court martial then.

If you are expecting profound analysis from me, I don’t have any. I don’t know what to think about these cases. They could be innocent or guilty. I have only two comments. One, they should be given the regular military treatment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) instead of being detained indefinitely like Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. Two, if these guys are guilty, it is their individual act and should not be construed as making all the Muslim chaplains or even all Muslims in the military.

There also is these comments in the Fox News story which highlight something that is pretty common, i.e., improper handling of classified material.

Yee, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla., after getting off a flight from Guantanamo Bay and is being held at the consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, S.C. A senior law enforcement official said authorities confiscated classified documents Yee was carrying.

Determining what Yee’s intentions were may be difficult, according to one senior official. The official told Fox News he was having a difficult time assessing the meaning of the articles said to be in the chaplain’s possession when he was arrested.

Yee was detained in part because he carried classified information without having something called a “courier card” in his possession. Such mistakes are not uncommon, the official said.

Yee also possessed a laptop equipped with a modem, which are strictly forbidden at the base. The official pointed out that nearly every laptop now sold is equipped with a dial-up modem.

A Pentagon official told Fox News that classified information was also found on the laptop of the Air Force member now in custody. But the official said slip-ups such as this —- which he described as “sloppy computer security” —- are somewhat common.

Classified material, especially in the military and defense-related work, needs to be very carefully guarded. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t follow the rules on such things strictly. This is a plausible explanation in this case, but I have no idea whether it’s true or not. I think we’ll all have to wait and see.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times:

The translator, Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, faces 32 criminal charges, including accusations that he tried to slip prison maps, cell-block information, names of prisoners and messages from them to an agent of the Syrian government. If convicted of the spying charges, he could face the death penalty.

UPDATE II: Things didn’t turn out well for the military and the charges against these guys. Read my later post.

UPDATE III: Also, see this New York Times article.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

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