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|Guantanamo Spy Cases Evaporate
Chaplain and Arabic Translator Are Now Facing Only Lesser Charges
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 25, 2004; Page A03
Last September, top officials of the Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, told a military judge in Florida that the prison's Muslim chaplain, Army Capt. James Yee, would soon be charged with mutiny, sedition, espionage, spying and aiding the enemy -- crimes that could lead to his execution.
...But authorities never charged him with any of those offenses. Instead, Yee will face much less serious charges, such as mishandling classified materials and adultery. ... At the same time, Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad I. Halabi was held on charges of espionage and aiding the enemy. In time, the most serious of those allegations have been withdrawn as well.
Officials have refused to say what provoked investigations of Yee and Halabi. But knowledgeable sources said suspicions about them began last year, around the time Halabi started helping Yee prepare a community center on the base for Muslim prayer services each Friday. Halabi also had dinner twice at Yee's quarters with him and other Muslim service members, sources said.
Halabi, meanwhile, remains in jail pending a yet-to-be-scheduled court-martial in California. In recent months, the most serious charges against him have been dropped, including using the computer to communicate with "the enemy," a term never defined.
In related news, Amos Milkman, 24, of Otumwa, IA, has seen his charges reduced from Regicide, Apostasy, Communicating With Thee Devil, Haberdashery and Crimes Against Nature to three charges of "Impure thoughts" and one of "Straying from the Path."
His lawyers continue to contest even these reduced charges. "I've looked in every statute book in the library, and I can't find a charge for 'Impure Thoughts,' said Otumwa defense lawyer and part-time library clerk Fritz Holdingpattern. "I think the authorities are just trying to cover up the fact that they arrested my client for no reason other than he attempted to vote for Dennis Kucinich in the Caucuses."
Otumwa County Sheriff and Iowa Witchfinder-General Hepzibah Mymidon denies any malfeasance. "Thee man dyd host a coven of cark and mystyrious supporters," said the official, "at which nought but vegetables were served. Surely, this is the mark of a satanic gathering. Also, he dyd have communication with a Kucinich campaign worker, who, we have reason to believe, turned into a bat by night and flew about, causing affrights and injuries to the domestic beests, many of which gave curdled milk afterwards."
The Kucinich campaign strongly denied that the candidate's self-professed vegeterianism was linked to unholy devotions, or that his staff could change their forms and fly through the air. They blamed the curdled milk on excessive use of Bovine Growth Hormone in dairy herds.
Milkman's lawyers are attempting to get the remaining charges dismissed or at least clarified. "If they'd just tell us which 'path' he's supposed to have strayed from, we could fight this," said his counsel, "But when we asked we were accused of trying to pass 'Occult myssages to thee Dark Lord,' and now the magistrates won't even meet us, claiming we'll put the Evil Eye on them."
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