One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military's maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.
American guards arrived at the man's cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
Yeah, yeah, I know. He was sleep deprived, subject to "harsh interrogation methods," blah blah blah. Nothing new here right? Wrong.
The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.
But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.
If we can't figure who our own operatives are in these operations, how the hell are we supposed to know if we're detaining run-of-the-mill innocent people?
[A Pentagon Spokewoman] said officials did not reach Mr. Vance's contact at the F.B.I. until he had been in custody for three weeks. Even so, she said, officials determined that he "posed a threat" and decided to continue holding him. He was released two months later, Lieutenant Fracasso said, based on a "subsequent re-examination of his case," and his stated plans to leave Iraq.
This is what "posed a threat" has been reduced to? I know that this administration is not a fan of whistleblowers, but this is ridiculous.
Oh, and by the way--perhaps this is just me being Jewish, but I always find it particularly creepy when people are assigned numbers in place of their names. It is a classic dehumanization strategy, there is no purpose behind it other than to make it easier for guards to brutalize their wards, and it has no place in American policy.
Vance says he's suing Rumsfeld. I have no idea what the legal merits are here, but at some point there needs to be some accountability--criminal accountability--for the violations Rumsfeld and his ilk have approved against our own citizens.