Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Behind The Barn

The story.

An American security contractor is hired by an Iraqi firm. When he notices his employer stockpiling a large cache of arms, he contacts the F.B.I. Eventually, feeling his life is in danger, the contractor contacts the American embassy in Baghdad and is rescued by an assault team. That night he sleeps comfortably in an embassy room. It will be his last peaceful night for months. The following morning...

just before dawn, they were awakened, handcuffed with zip ties and made to wear goggles with lenses covered by duct tape. Put into a Humvee, Mr. Vance said he
asked for a vest and helmet, and was refused.

For the next three months, American Donald Vance was detained by the American military. He was subjected to sleep deprivation and interrogation. He was given no legal counsel. For two weeks he was not allowed any contact with the outside world. His fiance thought he had been killed. Eventually his fate was determined by one of those military tribunals we have heard so much of.

Their legal rights, laid out in a letter from Lt. Col. Bradley J. Huestis of the Army, the president of the status board, allowed them to attend the hearing and testify. However, under Rule 3, the letter said, “You do not have the right to legal counsel...

Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel were permitted at their hearings only because they were Americans, Lieutenant Fracasso said. The cases of all other detainees are reviewed without the detainees present, she said. In both types of cases, defense lawyers are not allowed to attend because the hearings are not criminal proceedings, she said....

At the hearings, a woman and two men wearing Army uniforms but no name tags or rank designations sat a table with two stacks of documents. One was about an inch thick, and the men were allowed to see some papers from that stack. The other pile was much thicker, but they were told that this pile was evidence only the board could see....

Eventually Mr. Vance was released. The reasons for his detention or even his release may never be known. Thus is the method and the madness of military tribunals.

The Times story is all over the blogs. Normally, I don't post news where I feel you may already have ample access, but frankly, this story is that important and it is getting no traction in the mainstream media. So it's time for a blog storm. Make them see the story. Make them report the story. It is time for this nation to wake up.

If this story does not make you mad, what will? This is not some vague ideological game theory. This is not foreigners. This is not a pile of naked Muslims with whom you may feel no connection. This is an American citizen. Not only doing his job, but attempting to assist in the security of his country. This is an American citizen.

If that isn't enough for you to wipe the sleep from your eyes, maybe this will.
...currently there were three Americans in military custody in Iraq. The military does not identify detainees.

Why do we even pretend this is justice? Why don't we just take them behind the barn and shoot them?

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