June 8th, 2012 Chuck and I attended a program sponsored by the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, www.civilfreedoms.org, Steve Downs, Executive Director of NCPCF, at the Islamic House of Wisdom, Dearborn Heights, MI.
We were privileged to hear from the following three individuals whose biography I'm copying here. Later, I hope to link you to a video presentation of their talks when it becomes available.
There were others that spoke but these three individuals' lives and talks were compelling.
Speakers Biography: Steve Downs, Esq.,
Steven Downs was in the Peace Corps in India from 1964-66 and graduated from Cornell Law School in 1969. Most of his professional career was spent as the Chief Attorney with the NY State Commission on Judicial Conduct in Albany, NY, disciplining bad judges. He retired in 2003 and became a volunteer member of the defense team for Yassin Aref who was prosecuted and convicted of terrorism related charges. Out of this experience he came to realize that not only had the government convicted an innocent individual, Yassin Aref, but the government had done so deliberately. Morevover it was doing the same thing to hundreds of other innocent Muslims all across the country, using a program, referred to as "preemptive prosecution", in which innocent people would be convicted of contrived charges to preempt them from possibly committing future crimes based on their perceived ideology. In 2008, he became one of the founders of Project SALAM to document and protest against preemptive prosecution. In 2010, Project SALAM became one of the founding organizations of the NCPCF to rally the country to the dangers of Preemptive Prosecution, Profiling, and Prisoner Abuse.
Hedaya Jayyousi is the wife of Dr. Kifeh Jayyousi, father, former Navy veteran, executive engineer and Wayne State University professor. Dr. Kifah founded a small charity before 9/11 to benefit the victims of the war in Bosnia and Chechnya, and published a newsletter critical of U.S. foreign policy. These actions drew the wrath of the Justice Department, even though the people Kifah was helping-the Bosnian Muslims-were the same people the U.S. was trying to help in the Bosnian war with Serbia. Kifah was arrested with Jose Padilla and Adham Hassoun, and separately convicted on one charge of conspiracy to engage in violence abroad, although there was virtualy no evidence to support the charge. Kifah was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Dr. Kifey and Hedaya have 5 children, 3 daughters and 2 sons.
Chaplain James Yusuf Yee
James J. Yee is a former US Army Chaplain and graduate of West Point who served as the Muslim Chaplain for the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that would become controversial for its treatment of detainees designated as "enemy combatants" by the U.S. government. While ministering to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Captain Yee advised camp commanders on detainee religious practices and objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which the prisoners were subjected. After being officially recognize twice for outstanding performance, Captain Yee was arrested andd imprisoned in a Naval brig for 76 days in September 2003 whilde being falsely accused of spying, espionage, and aiding the alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners. He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to the same sensory deprivation techniques that were being used against the prisoners in Cuba. After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. With his record wiped clean, Chaplain Yee was reinstated to full duty at Fort Lewis, Washington. He tendered his resignation from the U.S. Army and received an Honorable Discharge on January 7, 2005. Upon separation he was awarded with a second Army Commendation medal for "exceptionally meritorious service." Chaplain Yee's gripping account of his Guantanamo experience and struggle for justice has been receintly published and is entitled For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire. The Washington Post called it "required reading for all U.S. officials waging war on Islamist terrorists." For this work, Yee received the Exceptional Communicator Award from New America Media in Jan 2006. Chaplain Yee is a third-generation Chinese American who converted to Islam in April of 1991. After serving in the aftermath of the first Gulf War as a Patriot Missile Fire Control Officer, he traveled to Damascus, Syria studying the Arabic language and the traditional Islamic sciences. Four years of intensive study led to a Certificate of Islamic Studies equivalent to a graduate degree. An endorsement from the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council (AMAF&VAC) brought Chaplain Yee back to active duty as a U.S. Army Muslim Chaplain in January 2001. Following September 11, 2001, Chaplain Yee respresented Muslims in the military "with great distinction" handling a multitude of national and global media requests. He has appeared on national and global news programs including The O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC's Hardball, CNN Paula Zahn Now, Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, PBS Religion and Ethics, Al-Jazeera's From Washington, Democracy Now, NPR All Things Considered, MSNBC's the Situation with Tucker Carlson, CSPAN-2 After Words, ABC Australia's The 7:30 Report, UK Sky World News Tonight, and BBC World Service.