Amazingly, the two American contractors in the 7th Circuit decision were known by the military to be working undercover for the FBI, to whom they had reported witnessing the sale of U.S government munitions to Iraqi rebel groups. The FBI in Iraq had vouched for Vance and Ertel numerous times before they nevertheless disappeared into military custody. They were held at Camp Cropper in Iraq where the two were tortured, one for 97 days, and the other for six weeks.In a puzzling and incriminating move, Camp Cropper base commander General John Gardner ordered Nathan Ertel released on May 17, 2006, while keeping Donald Vance in detention for another two months of torture. By ordering the release of one man but not the other, Gardner revealed awareness of the situation but prolonged it at the same time.It is unlikely that Gardner could act alone in a situation as sensitive as the illegal detention and torture of two Americans confirmed by the FBI to be working undercover in the national interest, to prevent American weapons and munitions from reaching the hands of insurgents, for the sole purpose of using them to kill American troops. Vance and Ertel suggest he was acting on orders from the highest political level.