Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chicago Contractor Sues Rumsfeld Over Iraq Claims

Donald Vance Says He Was Imprisoned By U.S. Forces In Iraq

(AP) CHICAGO -- A Chicago man who worked as a private security employee in Iraq says he was imprisoned by U.S. forces in a Baghdad military camp, held for three months without charges and denied access to an attorney, despite being an American citizen.

Navy veteran Donald Vance, 29, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his role in overseeing the military prison system in Iraq.

In the lawsuit, Vance alleges that Rumsfeld's "policies and directives are completely inconsistent with fundamental constitutional and human rights."

Vance alleges he was held in "physically and mentally coercive conditions which are supposedly reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants."

Those conditions included being subjected to artificial light 24 hours a day, long periods of solitary confinement, threats of excessive force, being forced to wear blindfolds and hoods, and occasional deprivation of food and water.

Rumsfeld stepped down as Secretary of Defense on Friday. Contact information for him could not immediately be determined.

Cynthia Smith, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Defense, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. She took a message for First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon's detention operations in Iraq.

Fracasso told The New York Times in a story published Monday that Vance and a co-worker also taken into custody for a period were "treated fair and humanely." In written answers to the newspaper's questions, she said there was no record of the men complaining about their treatment.

Vance left the Navy in the late 1990s. After working for one security company in Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005, he took a job with another security company in the fall of 2005, but said he became concerned about some possible corrupt activity there.

On a trip back to Chicago for his father's funeral, Vance said he went to the FBI and agreed to keep an agent there apprised of any strange activity he witnessed inside the company.

FBI spokesman Ross Rice said the agency does not confirm whether anyone has worked with the FBI.

Vance's lawsuit said he worked for the FBI for several months before he and his co-worker decided to quit the security company.

With their identification cards seized by company officials, members of the U.S. military took the men to the American Embassy in Baghdad in April 2006. Vance and his co-worker were debriefed and given a place to sleep, but after a few hours were escorted outside and placed under arrest, according to the lawsuit. .....

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