Sunday, August 26, 2007

Perspective: Iraq whistleblowers vilified, fired, demoted... or worse

Left: Donald Vance

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance said he was imprisoned by the U.S. military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times as he was huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, U.S. soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he alleged, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

"It was a Wal-Mart for guns," he said. "It was all illegal, and everyone knew it."

So Vance said he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn't know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he said, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Read the rest at the Akron Beacon Journal