On Apr. 16, 2006, for reasons still unknown to them, two U.S. contractors in Iraq's Red Zone were handcuffed, blindfolded and transported to Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility located a few miles from Baghdad International Airport.
There, Donald Vance, a Navy veteran from Illinois and Nathan Ertel, a U.S. government contractor hailing from Virginia, experienced a "nightmarish scene", in which they were held incommunicado in solitary confinement and subject to physical and psychological torture for the duration of their imprisonment.
This Monday, nearly five years since their ordeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago ruled that the plaintiffs could move forward with a lawsuit against the person who allegedly approved the operation – former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Held without a trial or court hearing and tortured – Ertel for six weeks, Vance for nearly three months – the plaintiffs are suing for damages rendered against them in Camp Cropper, where Rumsfeld and several other unnamed officials allegedly "developed, authorized and used harsh interrogation techniques [on them]", thus violating their basic civil, constitutional and human rights.
Upholding a 2010 lower court ruling on the issue, the three-judge panel voted two-to-one Monday to allow the case to move forward, on the basis that "[the plaintiffs'] complaint alleges in detail that they were detained and illegally tortured by U.S. military [and] released from military custody without ever being charged with a crime."
In the final court decision, Judge David Hamilton