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How 2 American Whistleblowers Allegedly Tortured in Iraq May Force Donald Rumsfeld to Pay for His Crimes August 10, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Torture.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The U.S. Court of Appeals has refused to dismiss a lawsuit
against Rumsfeld for creating policies that caused American civilians to be
tortured in Iraq.

August 9, 2011  |  www.alternet.org

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Monday refused to
dismiss a lawsuit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for
creating policies that caused American civilians to be tortured by the U.S.
military in Iraq.

In a 2 to 1 decision, the court ruled that the lawsuit filed by Donald Vance
and Nathan Ertel, two American citizens who were allegedly tortured at a U.S.
military prison in Iraq in 2006, provided adequate evidence that Rumsfeld was
personally responsible for their treatment and that Rumsfeld was not entitled to
qualified immunity.

“If the plaintiffs’ allegations are true, two young American civilians were
trying to do the right thing by becoming whistleblowers to the U.S. government,
but found themselves detained in prison and tortured by their own government,
without notice to their families and with no sign of when the harsh physical and
psychological abuse would end,” they wrote their decision (PDF).

The court did not address the factual allegations made by Vance and Ertel,
only the validity of their lawsuit. The former Bush and current Obama
administration have tried to have the case dismissed.

The two young men moved to Iraq in 2005 and 2006 to help “rebuild the country
and achieve democracy.” They worked for a privately-owned security company
called Shield Group Security.

Vance and Ertel began working with the FBI after they became suspicious that
Shield Group Security was engaged in corruption and other illegal activities.
The two men shared Shield Group Security documents with U.S. officials and
reported their observations, including evidence that U.S. and Iraqi government
officials were involved with illegal arms trading, stockpiling of weapons, and

Shield Group Security soon became suspicious of Vance and Ertel’s loyalty to
the firm. The company revoked the credentials that allowed them to travel inside
the “Green Zone,” effectively trapping them inside the dangerous “Red Zone” in

After contacting U.S. officials, the two men were told to barricade
themselves inside Shield Group Security’s compound. U.S. military forces then
rescued Vance and Ertel from the compound and took them to the U.S. Embassy for

In the middle of the night, they were arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and
transferred to Camp Prosperity, where they claim to have been held in solitary
confinement for two days and threatened with “excessive force.”

Vance and Ertel were then transferred to Camp Cropper, where they were
allegedly psychologically and physically tortured for the duration of their

They were both kept in solitary confinement. Their cells were kept
intolerably cold and the lights were never turned off. Both men slept on a
concrete slab. Guards would wake them if they were ever caught sleeping and
blast heavy metal music into their cells at “intolerably-loud volumes.” The two
men were also allegedly slammed into concrete walls while blindfolded.

Vance and Ertel were eventually released. Neither was charged with any crime
or other wrongdoing.

After returning to the United States, the two men sued Rumsfeld as well as
unidentified defendants.

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled that another lawsuit against Rumsfeld could proceed to trial. The
plaintiff in that case claims he was abducted by U.S. military personnel in 2005
as he was due to return home from Iraq. Over the course of nine months he was
allegedly beaten and interrogated about providing classified information to
coalition enemies, then was released without explanation. He was never charged
with a crime.

Rumsfeld, an outspoken and highly controversial secretary of defense who
oversaw the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, left his post after
President George W. Bush was reelected to a second term.


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