December 18, 2006

Guilt by Association

So many conservatives believe that the Bush police state is okay because they know that only terrorists get caught up in Kafka's nightmare. Innocent people don't have to worry because it will never touch them.


We now have the story of an innocent American who by trying to let the US Government know there was some crooked stuff going on in the company where he was a contractor in Iraq, found himself trapped in a nightmare with no trial, no legal representation and no recourse.

What had he done to get held?

Only days later did they receive an explanation: They had become suspects for having associated with the people Mr. Vance tried to expose.

“You have been detained for the following reasons: You work for a business entity that possessed one or more large weapons caches on its premises and may be involved in the possible distribution of these weapons to insurgent/terrorist groups,” Mr. Ertel’s detention notice said.

How did the government know about the weapons cache or the terrorist connection? Oh, that's right, Mr. Vance had told them.

Mr. Vance’s situation was more complicated. On June 17, Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the American military’s detention unit, Task Force 134, wrote to tell Ms. Schwarz that Mr. Vance was still being held. “The detainee board reviewed his case and recommended he remain interned,” he wrote. “Multi-National Force-Iraq approved the board’s recommendation to continue internment. Therefore, Mr. Vance continues to be a security detainee. We are not processing him for release. His case remains under investigation and there is no set timetable for completion.” Over the following weeks, Mr. Vance said he made numerous written requests — for a lawyer, for blankets, for paper to write letters home. Mr. Vance said that he wrote 10 letters to Ms. Schwarz, but that only one made it to Chicago. Dated July 17, it was delivered late last month by the Red Cross.

“Diana, start talking, sending e-mail and letters and faxes to the alderman, mayor, governor, congressman, senators, Red Cross, Amnesty International, A.C.L.U., Vatican, and other Christian-based organizations. Everyone!” he wrote. “I am missing you so much, and am so depressed it’s a daily struggle here. My life is in your hands. Please don’t get discouraged. Don’t take ‘No’ for answers. Keep working. I have to tell myself these things every day, but I can’t do anything from a cell.”

The military has never explained why it continued to consider Mr. Vance a security threat, except to say that officials decided to release him after further review of his case.

“Treating an American citizen in this fashion would have been unimaginable before 9/11,” said Mike Kanovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing Mr. Vance.

Indeed. Do read the whole article and think seriously of what you'd do while you were trying to convince the government that they made a mistake and they treated you like they treated Mr. Vance. And remember, it was this type of tyranny that caused our founders to add the Bill of Rights -- a document this administration spits on.

(h/t to Atrios)

Posted by Mary at December 18, 2006 09:37 AM | Law/Justice | Technorati links |