American Detainee Speaks Out

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Donald Vance was a 29-year-old US Navy veteran working in Baghdad when the prison door slammed on him. Blindfolded, shackled, thrown on a concrete slab, and cut off from legal representation by an American system and American guards in an American-run detention center in Iraq. For 97 days.

Vance was not a candy striper. He worked for a private security firm in a war zone. A rough game in a rough country. He says he blew the whistle on shady gun deals, then got swept up in the crackdown.

But his treatment and detention as a single American citizen gives a glimpse of what Iraqis face by the thousands in Iraq's maelstrom.

This hour On Point: a conversation with Donald Vance, US citizen and ex-prisoner of Baghdad.

Quotes from the Show:

"My associate and I witnessed individuals being bribed..., illegal weapons trading ..." Donald Vance

"I reported [to an FB field agent] anything I saw, heard, and witnessed from October 2005 to April 2006." Donald Vance

"I was never interrogated by the same individuals. ...There was never a single focus [in my interrogation]." Donald Vance

"The only process Donald was given was a board hearing. ... He had no legal representation." Mike Kanovitz

"There needs to be a distinction between two detention and criminal justice systems that exist in Iraq. The system under which Donald Vance was held was the security internee system, which under international law affords no due process." Bruce Ellis Fein

"He [Vance] definitely received rough justice, but the military has little leeway for due process on the battlefield." Bruce Ellis Fein

"[Donald Vance's story] opens a window for us in the American detention system in Iraq." Michael Moss

"Mr. Vance was lucky to at least attend the hearing that decided his fate." Michael Moss


Donald Vance, security contractor and whistleblower, detained by the U.S. Military's maximum detention center in Baghdad;

Mike Kanovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing Mr. Vance;

Michael Moss, correspondent for the New York Times.Bruce Ellis Fein, lawyer and staff judge advocate for 354th Civil Affairs Brigade, US Army Reserves.

This program aired on December 19, 2006.


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