Daily Archives: December 20, 2006

Navy veteran whistleblower accuses U.S. military of holding him prisoner

Contra Costa Times | Dec 19, 2006 

Vance said he was interrogated for lengthy periods, denied necessary medical care and repeatedly threatened with “you’ll never leave here again.”

A Chicago man who worked for an Iraqi contractor alleged Monday he was imprisoned in a U.S. military compound in Baghdad, held incommunicado for more than three months and subjected to interrogation techniques “tantamount to torture.”

In a federal lawsuit filed in Chicago, Donald Vance, 29, a Navy veteran, charged that his constitutional rights were trampled by American military interrogators even though they knew he was a U.S. citizen.

“I couldn’t believe they did this to any human being,” said Vance in a telephone interview.

Vance was taken into custody without charges in April. While imprisoned at Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport, Vance said, he was held in solitary confinement in a continuously lit, windowless and extremely cold cell as loud heavy metal and country music blared nonstop.

The lawsuit charged that Vance, a security consultant for a private Iraqi firm at the time, was denied basic constitutional rights to due process as if he were a suspected terrorist or enemy combatant.

“That’s why they did it to him – because they could,” said Jon Loevy, one of Vance’s lawyers. “If they could do it to Mr. Vance, they could do it to anybody.”

The suit sought unspecified damages and named Donald Rumsfeld, who stepped down last week as U.S. secretary of defense, as its lone defendant for his role in overseeing the military prison system in Iraq.

Cynthia Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman in Washington, said it is Pentagon policy to decline to comment on pending litigation.

Vance said he and co-worker Nathan Ertel suspected their Iraqi employer, Shield Group Security, of paying off local sheiks for influence in obtaining government contracts.

The two blew the whistle, becoming informants for the FBI in Chicago and U.S. officials in Iraq. But when they felt their lives had been threatened by their employer, they gathered up weapons and arranged for U.S. military forces to rescue them.

“We did an Alamo,” said Vance in reference to their barricading themselves in a room in their employer’s compound until the military rescue.

But after being debriefed at the U.S. Embassy, the two were awakened in the middle of the night, arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the first of two U.S. miliary installations, according to the lawsuit.

“Certain low-level bureaucrats in the federal government apparently came to believe, quite incorrectly, that Mr. Vance might have more information, and they set out to extract it from him,” the suit said.

Vance said military authorities at Camp Cropper knew he was a U.S. citizen because he had his passport and other identification with him.

Attacks in Iraq surge to record high

TVNZ |  Dec 19, 2006  

Attacks in Iraq on US-led forces, local security personnel and civilians have surged 22% to record levels, the Pentagon said in its latest quarterly report on Iraq published on Monday.

The report also noted a rise in civilian casualties and said this was directly linked to the rise of sectarian death squads, which were helped by elements of Iraqi forces.

The report was released on the day Robert Gates was sworn in as US defence secretary and as President George Bush considers changes to his Iraq policy. Gates replaces Donald Rumsfeld, heavily criticised for his handling of the war.

“Attack levels – both overall and in all specific measurable categories – were the highest on record during this reporting period,” said the report, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq”, produced for the US Congress.

The average number of attacks per week rose to 959 in the three months from August 12 to November 10, from 784 in the previous three months, according to figures provided by the Pentagon to accompany the report.

Communist Party Branch Set Up At Wal-Mart China HQ

ABC7 | Dec 19, 2006

Workers have set up a Communist Party branch at the China headquarters of Wal-Mart.

It’s all part of a growing campaign to expand the ruling party’s presence in foreign companies.

The world’s largest retailer is one of China’s biggest and most prominent foreign employers, with a work force of 36-thousand and 68 stores.

A Wal-Mart spokesman says he doesn’t know whether the company will have any formal interaction with the branch or whether its establishment will affect operations. But a party official says there will be no interference with store management. In fact, he says members will be encouraged “to play an exemplary role in doing a good job” and to help the company grow.

Several of Wal-Mart’s Chinese stores already have Communist Party branches.

Ohio Whistleblower Gets 8 Years For Emails Criticizing Judge

NORTH COUNTRY GAZETTE | Dec 19, 2006 

Government critic and judicial whistleblower Elsebeth Baumgartner has been sentenced to eight years in prison for writing e-mails to a 76-year-old retired visiting judge who is still sitting on the bench adjudicating matters although the Ohio Constitution mandated his removal from the bench when he reached age 70.

Baumgartner had pleaded no contest to 11 felony counts of intimidation and retaliation for the purpose of removing the action from Saffold’s court where she felt that she could not receive a fair trial due to Saffold’s prejudice and move the action to the appellate level where the argument will focus on the law rather than emotions and bias.

Saffold sentenced her to four years in prison on the Markus complaint and four years in prison on the DuBois complaint, to be served consecutively rather than concurrently. One of the pre-trial defense arguments had been that due to the highly prejudicial nature, the complaints should have been severed and not tried together.

Navy vet whistleblower tortured by U.S. forces for months by order of Rumsfeld

ABC7 | Dec 18, 2006  

Suit filed against Rumsfeld

Vance is convinced that Donald Rumsfeld knew and signed off on his arrest and imprisonment.

A Navy veteran from Chicago says he was detained and tortured by U.S. forces in Baghdad without being charged. Twenty-nine-year-old Donald Vance was a private security employee in Baghdad at the time of his arrest. He has filed a federal lawsuit against former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Donald Vance is a lifelong Chicagoan. After graduating from Taft High School he joined the Navy. He was discharged in the 90’s. Two years ago, Vance went to work for a security contractor in Iraq. The 29-year-old wound up in an American prison. His experience is spelled out in a lawsuit that is based on the violation of Vance’s constitutional rights.

His Bible is all he had. Donald Vance kept notes in it while he was detained for three months in Iraq. The 29-year-old Navy veteran was held at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum security detention site in Baghdad. To this day, Vance has no idea why the U.S. government imprisoned him and, he says, tortured him from April to July of this year.

Guantanamo Detainees To Be Held Even Without Evidence

New York Sun | Dec 16, 2006 

The hard core of detainees held at America’s Guantanamo Bay detention camp will be held indefinitely even if there is insufficient evidence to bring them to trial, a senior Bush administration official said.

Of the 435 detainees being held at Guantanamo, only 10 have so far been charged with terrorism-related offenses. A further 14 detainees — the so-called high value detainees such as the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — are also expected to face trial now that the U.S. Congress has passed the Military Commission Act, which will finally enable America to commence trials of Guantanamo detainees next year.

But of the remainder, an estimated 200 detainees face being held indefinitely at Guantanamo because they are deemed a threat to international security even though there is insufficient evidence to bring them before a military commission.

Happy Bush says Cheney’s lesbian daughter will be good, “loving soul to her child”

Chicago Tribune | Dec 16, 2006 

bush_mary_cheney 

Commenting on the controversy, Bush told People magazine that Mary Cheney would be “a loving soul to her child. And I’m happy for her.”

Although he recently expressed confidence that Mary Cheney will make a loving parent, President Bush continues to believe it is best that a child is raised by a man and woman married to each other, the president’s spokesman said Friday.

The pregnancy of Vice President Dick Cheney’s younger daughter, a lesbian, has reignited public discussion of gays becoming parents.

Some social conservatives, who strongly support Bush and the vice president on most issues, greeted the news of Mary Cheney’s pregnancy with dismay, arguing that it undermined efforts to emphasize the primacy of the traditional family unit.

Commenting on the controversy, Bush told People magazine that Mary Cheney would be “a loving soul to her child. And I’m happy for her.”

Pressed on whether his remark contradicted views he previously expressed that being raised by gays falls short of an ideal situation for a child, he avoided a direct response.

“Mary Cheney is going to make a fine mom, and she’s going to love this child a lot,” he told the magazine.