A U.S. citizen, detained in Iraq

The New York Times tells the story of a contractor detained in Iraq and the conditions he suffered.

Published December 18, 2006 2:56PM (EST)

As 18 more detainees are released from Guantánamo, we learn more details about just how our prisoners in Iraq are treated, this time from a U.S. citizen who had done his best to stop the criminal activity going on where he worked.

Donald Vance, a veteran and a security contractor, had been telling authorities about arms dealing being done at the Iraqi security firm he worked for. That information led to a raid -- and to Vance's detention, as it took authorities three months to realize that Vance wasn't a criminal but a whistle-blower.

Now, the New York Times reports, Vance plans to sue outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, charging that his rights were violated while he was detained.

The full article really has to be read to be believed, but here's one of the Times' descriptions of the conditions in which Vance was held:

"American guards arrived at the man's cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

"The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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