Saturday, March 13, 2004


Capt. James J. Yee was front-page news in September when thought part of an espionage operation involving Qaeda members at Guantanamo Bay. Typically, he was a paragraph on page A19 of yesterday’s News York Times as the military weighs dropping all charges and “allowing him to leave the Army with an honorable discharge.”

This is all tentative, revealed because a copy of the proposed settlement was “inadvertently” sent to the media by one of Yee’s lawyers, The Associated Press says. But it’s still striking that after 76 days in military custody and months of effort to make something stick, military prosecutors are left trying to make something of “mishandling classified material, failing to obey an order, making a false official statement, adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer for allegedly downloading pornography on his government laptop,” as the news agency notes.

If the settlement is rejected, Yee could still be prosecuted for the adultery and pornography, facing such punishments as “duty restriction or a temporary pay cut.” The government, obviously, should drop all charges.

Media such as The New York Times, just as obviously, should return this story to page A1 if the settlement is accepted -- and perhaps run a sidebar describing what this hysterical lashing out has done to an innocent man’s life and marriage.

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