A U.S. Navy veteran from Chicago sued former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in federal court Monday, accusing U.S. forces of detaining and torturing him for 97 days at a maximum security military prison in Baghdad.
Donald Vance, 29, worked in Iraq as a private security contractor when he was kidnapped by his own employer in April, rescued by U.S. forces, and then held without ever being charged with a crime, according to the lawsuit.
At the U.S. Embassy, Vance told military officials that he was an FBI informant who regularly relayed information via cell phone and e-mail to a federal agent in Chicago about his employer’s possible involvement in illegally selling weapons.
“Within five minutes of my first interrogations I explained to them the relationship [with FBI agent Travis Carlisle] and I was imploring them to do their research,” he said. An FBI spokesman confirmed Carlisle is an agent but declined to comment further.
‘Fair and humanely’After being interviewed and getting a few hours of sleep at the embassy, Vance and co-worker Nathan Ertel of Virginia were bound, blindfolded and taken to Camp Cropper, the military prison where Saddam Hussein was held.
During a telephone interview Monday, Vance said he was questioned almost every day, repeatedly asked what connections his employer, Shield Group Security, had with Iraqi political and tribal leaders, what type of work they did, how much he got paid, and contacts in the U.S. State Department, among other things.
During his imprisonment, Vance was isolated and deprived of sleep and food, he said. He kept track of time by keeping notes in a prison camp-issued Bible and making hash marks on the cinder block walls of his cold cell — a 9-foot-square room with a thin mattress and a “Turkish toilet” that amounted to a hole in the floor.
He said he was deprived of blankets and adequate clothes, and got very little sleep because cell lights were never turned off and “intolerably loud” heavy metal and country music was usually playing in the prison. Sometimes he wasn’t given food and water for an entire day, the lawsuit states.
A Pentagon representative told the New York Times that Vance was treated “fair and humanely,” and that there is no record Vance complained about how he was being treated.
On July 20, Vance was released and dropped at Baghdad Airport to find a way home himself.
Vance, a graduate of Chicago’s Taft High School, said “sheer anger” provoked his decision to take the matter to court and help Americans “protect their liberties at home.”