Torture thine own
This is an extraordinary, shocking story from last week that I was going to post earlier, but didn’t get around to it until now. I’ve been watching DemocracyNow for a few years and this is really the only time I’ve seen Amy Goodman’s jaw drop to the floor.
Would you believe that just three years after the Iraq invasion, U.S. military personnel could detain and abuse other Americans for reporting crimes they had witnessed? Who would have guessed that even Kafka could not have fathomed the depths of cruelty and mindlessness that a government, operating outside the law, could sink to?
Donald Vance, a Navy Vet, and Nathan Ertel were working for a private U.S. government contractor, Shield Group Security, in 2006 when they witnessed bribery, theft, and weapons dealings such as the sale of U.S. government weapons to Iraqi rebel groups for money and alcohol. Upon arriving home, Vance approached the Chicago branch of the FBI and told them of the disturbing things he had seen. The FBI immediately became interested and took Vance in as an unpaid informant and sent him and Ertel back to Iraq undercover. While in Iraq, their cover was somehow blown and the U.S. security contractor they were investigating tried to have them killed by attempting to have them kidnapped and ‘disappeared’. Luckily, this plan failed and they were rescued in Baghdad by a U.S. Special Forces team and brought to the U.S. Embassy where they explained what had happened to them. When the officials at the U.S. Embassy began to realize that the U.S. military was the target of Vance and Ertel’s investigation for the FBI, the atmosphere in the room turned cold and then hostile. Within 24 hours the officials at the U.S. Embassy turned the two informants over to the U.S. military who then placed the two in a temporary Baghdad detention center and then a place called Camp Cropper where they endured the enhanced interrogation techniques – including sleep deprivation, food manipulation, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, and ‘walling’ [getting slammed repeatedly into a wall while blindfolded]. Their interrogation questions surrounded topics like "What did you tell the FBI?", "How long have you been doing this?", and "Why did you do this?" After several months of such torture, one day a guard comes to Vance’s cell, hands him some civilian clothing and brings him to a room where he is asked whether he is going to talk to the press about this incident or see an attorney. Vance is even asked jokingly if he is "going to write a book about this." Of course he answers "NO" to all these questions and then he is placed on a plane and sent back home to America.