24 October 2007

I won't kill your momma...but I'll make sure someone *else* does.

Fun times. It appears that the Second Circuit put up a ruling that included information intended to be kept under seal. They realized the error (or were notified of it by the FBI, more on that shortly) and redacted the offending information. However, some legal bloggers had already commented on the ruling, and when one of them - Howard Bashman of the "How Appealing" blog - posted the unexpurgated ruling, he was contacted by the head clerk of the court and requested to take it down. Bashman did not.

What's the information that needed to be redacted? What's so inflammatory that I intimated it might have been an FBI request/demand to redact from the order? What is this case about?

Abdallah Higazy was an Egyptian student staying in a hotel across from the WTC on 10 September, 2001. A student arrested and interrogated for possessing an airline transceiver. Here's the thing: it wasn't his. He's suing the FBI.

Here’s where the story gets interesting—and newsworthy. When the ruling was posted on the court’s Web site at 10:30 a.m., as they typically are, it included a detailed description of how the FBI had coerced Higazy’s false confession. According to the ruling, Higazy says his interrogator threatened to “make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell.” The agent later acknowledged that he very well knew that the Egyptians operated under what he called “different” laws, especially in relation to torture and civil rights. Higazy says he knew exactly what this meant—that if he didn’t “co-operate” his family back in Egypt would be in danger, from both their government and their neighbors.
So some Jack Bauer-wannabe effectively threatened the life of this kid's family and got the info he needed. A confession. A confession that Higazy owned the transceiver. Except it really belonged to a pilot who'd left it behind. Fortunately for Higazy (and unfortunately for the FBI,) the pilot returned to pick up his belongings in January of '02.

Yep. Torture and threats of torture work great. With "enhanced techniques" you can get a subject to admit to anything. It's especially good at getting people to admit to lies in order to stop the interrogation.