On Wednesday, the Washington Post revealed the CIA has set up covert prisons in Eastern Europe to hold its most important al-Qaida captives after 9/11. Bush administration officials are quick to say torture at these compounds, assuming they actually exist, would not be tolerated.
According to the Post, these so-called black sites located in eight different countries, including former compounds in Eastern Europe and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
On Wednesday evening, Former Army Chaplain James Yee, a Muslim convert, joined MSNBC's Tucker Carlson to discuss the Post's revelations. Yee was accused of spying for al-Qaida and charged with adultery while serving as a chaplain at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay but eventually cleared of all charges. He has now chronicled his experience in the new book, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
TUCKER CARLSON: Now, were you aware ... of any CIA-run detention centers on Guantanamo Bay while you were there?
CAPT. JAMES YEE: Well, I am not sure exactly if they were CIA, but we had this term called OGA, other government agencies, and people used to say that referred to CIA.
CARLSON: That sounds like it refers to the CIA without question. What did the OGA, or whatever it was, what did the CIA run, do you think, there? Were you aware of the compound? Was it near where you were? What was it? What did it look like?
YEE: In terms of what they were doing, I had no idea, but there were parts of the compound that I didn't have access to, and there were prisoners being held in there.
CARLSON: Interesting. Now, to your case, you were accused of espionage, treason, essentially, and then you were cleared of the charges. You were also accused of adultery and downloading porn on your computer.
You weren't, I don't think, convicted of either one of those either.
Have you been apologized to in any way by the U.S. military or the U.S. government?
YEE: No, I haven't received apology, but I'm still fighting for one, and I look at myself -- I consider myself an eternal optimist, that one day I'll get one.
CARLSON: Have you had any explanation for why, after being accused of something this serious in public, nobody has come forward to say, "You didn't do it, and gee, we're sorry, we said you did."
YEE: None whatsoever, but the Department of Defense inspector general is investigating in the case, and myself, as well as my supporters, my family, and many congressmen are actually looking forward to those results.
CARLSON: Now, it sounds like what happened to you is a pretty significant injustice, and not surprise -- sounds like the kind of thing government does, bureaucracies do.
But as you say in your book, you were considered far too sympathetic to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. And I have to say, as much as I sympathize with you, and what you've been accused of doing falsely, I have to kind of agree with that. After reading through your book, you do sound awfully sympathetic to a lot of the detainees, and you don't get a sense reading your book that these guys were at one time at war with the United States.
Do you hold them responsible for the actions they took against the U.S.?
YEE: Well, from my personal interactions with the prisoners, I found it hard to believe that these 660 or so prisoners who were down there when I was there were the ones who carried out and planned 9/11.
If they were in some way taking up arms against the U.S., and if that's a crime, then we should bring them to court, bring them to justice, and then punish them. Bring on the charges, and uphold the rule of law.
CARLSON: What about fighting on behalf of the Taliban? Isn't that itself a moral crime, if nothing else?
YEE: If that's a crime, then we should bring them to justice.
CARLSON: You think it's a moral crime to fight on behalf of the Taliban. Are you offended by the idea someone would take up arms on behalf of the Taliban?
YEE: I think that if that is a crime, that we should uphold the rule of law and bring them to justice.
CARLSON: But what do you think? I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I want to know what you think. You know these people. You spent, I think, eight months in their presence. Do you think it's morally wrong to fight on behalf of the Taliban, you personally?
YEE: ... Some of them, as it was said, some of them did get swept up, and many of them were innocent. Over 200 of them have already been released and sent back home. They're back with their families. And I think that says a lot. There's continuing talks that hundreds more are going to be released also.
CARLSON: Did you meet, since, unlike most Americans, you actually know some of these detainees, many of these detainees, tell us, did you find any of them who you thought had committed any crime at all or whose behavior troubled you?
YEE: It wasn't my job or my role to determine guilt or innocence. But with that said, I think that many of them are there innocently. ...
CARLSON: ... Again, you're sort of proving the point I made a minute ago. You seem awfully sympathetic to these guys. You imply in their book they were kind of pulled out at random, because they were Muslims. There are a billion Muslims in this country. Why did this 600 or so guys get pulled out of Afghanistan?
YEE: That's a good question. I didn't have any direct access to any intelligence on how they got captured. You know, my role was to be a chaplain.