In his first television interview, Chicago-born Donald Vance speaks out exclusively to NBC News' Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers about how he ended up being detained for 97 days in a secret U.S. military prison in Iraq. Vance has now filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government and Donald Rumsfeld, who was Secretary of Defense during Vance's detention. Vance tells "Dateline" why he was imprisoned for 97 days before being cleared of any wrongdoing. The interview will air this Sunday, June 17 (7:00 p.m. ET).
In 2005, Vance took a job in Baghdad with the Iraqi company, Shield Group Security (SGS), which provides protection for businesses and organizations in Iraq. There he was responsible for supervising security and logistics operations. However, Vance became alarmed by the large amount of weapons he says he saw at SGS and worried they were going to militias involved in sectarian violence, so he reached out to the FBI and offered his services as an informant. In the spring of 2006, after Vance had been in frequent communication with the FBI, the U.S. military took Vance and his American co-worker, Nathan Ertel, to a U.S. prison in Baghdad and held them as "security detainees" – accusing them of the very same things Vance says he was alleging about SGS to the FBI.
In the interview, Vance explains in detail to Myers what happened to him and Ertel at Camp Cropper, a secret military prison that once held Saddam Hussein, including how the guards interrogated him for hours at a time and deprived him of sleep. Vance tells "Dateline" that he and Ertel were given a document that read: "You do not have the right to legal counsel" and that they were not provided other legal protections typically guaranteed American citizens. In addition, they were not allowed to call their families and loved ones until they had been at Camp Cropper for almost three weeks. When it was finally over, Vance says they "dumped me at Baghdad International Airport like it never happened."
Both the U.S. Government and Shield Group Security declined to comment on Vance's allegations. Shield Group Security has changed its name, but is still doing business in Baghdad. Neither the company, nor its executives, have been charged with any wrongdoing.