Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blow A Whistle, Get Tortured

By Cernig

If ever there was a clear-cut case for Congressional investigation and oversight hearings, this is it.
One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

“It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”
I've written a couple of posts now on the subject of disappearing weapons in Iraq, noting that the sums involved for those who have redirected such weapons run into the hundreds of millions. It isn't a small amount and this isn't about a few bad apples. No-one has even begun to properly follow up the many and varied cases of corruption, theft and illegal activity which has meant the U.S. taxpayer has primed the pump of the most active and lucrative black market in guns in the world and has directly led to the deaths of US soldiers at the business ends of their own nation's weaponry. But if someone did, I firmly believe that they would discover that complicity and corruption reaches into the highest ranks of the military in Iraq as well as into senior levels at arms firms and security contracting corporations.

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