Illinois Judge Allows Torture Suit to Procede

by | Mar 7, 2010 | Stress Blog

Okay, we all know there can never be such thing as a law that provides for people who have brown skin and believe in Islam having the ability to seek remedy in American courts for torture at the hands of the U.S. military or CIA. But what about two white, American, presumably non-Muslim, contractor whistle-blowers?

Well, last Friday a federal district court judge in Illinois refused to reject a lawsuit by two such people against former Offense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld among others.

[The judge] said his decision “represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting.” …

[Donald] Vance and [Nathan] Ertel were described by their attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Chicago, as being in their early thirties. He said the two Americans went to Iraq in the fall of 2005 to work for the Iraqi-owned contracting firm of Shield Group Security.

The suit filed in 2006 alleges that while working for the company they saw fellow employees making payments to “certain Iraqi sheikhs” and dealing in armaments in a way they believed would not be approved by the U.S. military.

According to the suit, Vance contacted an FBI official in Chicago with his suspicions and the two men eventually shared their concerns with three U.S. Embassy officials in Baghdad.

The suit said their actions provoked suspicion at the company and on April 14, 2006, fellow employees confiscated the identity cards that allowed them to enter the safe area known as the Green Zone.

The two men said they locked themselves in a room, called the Embassy for help and were extricated by “United States forces” who took them to the Embassy where they were taken into custody.

They were taken to two military camps in the Baghdad vicinity in the weeks that followed, the suit said. It said Ertel was released after a month and Vance after two months.

While in custody, they were subjected to sleep deprivation, long hours of interrogation, blasting music, threats, hunger and a practice known as “walling” in which subjects are blindfolded and walked into walls, according to the suit.

The suit describes such practices as forms of torture and alleges Rumsfeld personally took part in determining such methods were acceptable for use by the military in Iraq.

Note the implication that the company in question, Sheild Group Security was secretly and illegally selling weapons to the predominantly Sunni “insurgency” in 2005, or perhaps early 2006 — at a time long before the American generals had accepted Sunni leaders’ proposals for what eventually became the “Anbar Awakening” movement of “Concerned Local Citizens” — during some of the worst of the civil war and the war against the American occupation. No wonder Donald Rumsfeld had these whistle-blowers kidnapped and tortured.

Note also that the pentagon apparently had no problem finding thugs among their ranks willing to torture a couple of American contractors under the “they are terrorists so they have no rights” doctrine.

How long before Hope-Change┞¢ invokes the State’s Secrets Privilege to prevent this case from going any further?

How long before the pretense is over and the Pentagon simply closes down the courts for good?

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