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FBI Coerced Confession Deemed "Classified" 456

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the united-states-of-embarrassment dept.
Steve Bergstein is one of several who have blogged about a recent court ruling that reads like most any bestselling crime novel. Apparently, when the court originally posted their decision (complete with backstory) it detailed how a coerced confession was obtained by the FBI from Abdallah Higazy in relation to the 9/11 attacks. The details, however, were later removed and deemed "classified". "As I read the opinion I realized it was a 44 page epic, too long for me to print out. I blogged about the opinion while I read it online and then posted the blog as I ate lunch. Then something strange happened: a few minutes after I posted the blog, the opinion vanished from the Court of Appeals website! [...] The next day, the Court of Appeals reissued the Higazy opinion. With a redaction. The court simply omitted from the revised decision facts about how the FBI agent extracted the false confession from Higazy. For some reason, this information is classified."
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FBI Coerced Confession Deemed "Classified"

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  • Ha! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LightWing (1131011) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:27PM (#21074091)
    If by "classified" they mean mean "stuff that makes us look bad". Gotta love politics and public image. Perhaps Bush taught them a few too many unwholesome lessons of corruption?
    • by WED Fan (911325) <[akahige] [at] [trashmail.net]> on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:42PM (#21074299) Homepage Journal

      If by "classified" they mean mean "stuff that makes us look bad". Gotta love politics and public image. Perhaps Bush taught them a few too many unwholesome lessons of corruption?

      You know, this story is appalling, for several reasons: 1. Some information gets classified, that probably shouldn't be, and the fact that 2. The horse is out of the barn and shows that data, once posted, is impossible to recall, and then they further heighten interest in it by classifying it and raising a stink about it. Their actions have almost ensured world-wide dissemination.

      What is worse is that their reaction to this will mostly likely make reasonable public access to information, rulings, testimony, almost impossible to get to.

      On a side note, and dealing with my subject line: Guys, you can't have it both ways. Reading /. and listening to Air America, George Bush is either an evil genius able to mastermind these great conspiracies, or, he's dumb as a rock. How about not inserting him into the situation at all. It would serve not to marginalize the discussion and keep blame where it needs to be, the beureaucrats that make these decisions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Surt (22457)
        The most commonly held opinion is that bush is seriously corrupt and of below average intelligence. He's not a complete idiot, and he does know how to manipulate people.

        Cheney, on the other hand, is widely well regarded as an evil mastermind. An absolute genius of our generation. Unfortunately, he seems to be bent on destroying american democracy.
        • by Boronx (228853) <evonreis&mohr-engineering,com> on Monday October 22, 2007 @03:14PM (#21075643) Homepage Journal
          Cheney, on the other hand, is widely well regarded as an evil mastermind.

          A completely undeserved reputation. His big plan in '91, for example, was to parachute the 82nd Airborne behind Iraqi lines, capture an Iraqi city and hold for ransom. Schwartzkopf, sane human that he was, didn't think much of it and said so, but Cheney kept insisting on it for weeks.

          Bush may be garden variety dumb, but Cheney is truly demented.

          • I'd disagree (Score:3, Interesting)

            You got that story direct from Schwartzkopfs biography right? Talk about bias. Ever read much about John Boyd? The American military strategist? Boyd gave Cheney private presentations of his Patterns of Conflict and other briefings. In Boyds biography by Robert Coram there is a quote by one of Boyds acolytes that states Cheney was one of the most knowledgeable civilians outside military circles when it came to warfare. I've also read 'kopfs biography. He was talking about Cheneys office giving ideas to thro
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by flonker (526111)
          Bush Jr. is smart, damn smart. You have to be smart to become President. But he lets his morality get in the way of his intelligence. He makes stupid morality based decisions, such as "let's finish that Iraq thing" because it feels good, never thinking that Iraq didn't do anything just yet, and by attacking Iraq now, we lose our moral high ground. His actions all make sense in a way, if you think along the lines of "we can do nothing wrong, our actions are justified." In short, he's smart, very smart,
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Speaking of "widely disseminated" does anyone have a torrent? I would very much like to read this.
        • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:13PM (#21074751) Homepage Journal
          Another post [slashdot.org] details a couple links:

          Here's the unredacted opinion [law.com] and here's the redacted opinion [uscourts.gov].
          • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Monday October 22, 2007 @03:06PM (#21075543) Journal

            Well that was fascinating. Extracted the text from both PDFs and ran diff on the resulting text files. The big thing that was removed seemed to be the following passage. Seems pretty unpleasant.

            Nevertheless, on December 27, Templeton--who up until this point was not involved in the investigation--conducted a polygraph examination of Higazy. Templeton began the test by asking Higazy background questions on subjects such as Higazy's scholarship, homeland, family in Egypt, brother in upstate New York, and girlfriend. He also asked Higazy whether he had anything to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001. The first round of testing allegedly suggested that Higazy's answers to the questions relating to the September 11 attacks were deceptive. As the second series of questioning was ending, Higazy requested that Templeton stop. He testified that he began "feeling intense pain in my arm. I remember hearing my heartbeat in my head and I just couldn't breathe. I said, 'Sir, sir, please, stop. It hurts. Please stop. Please take it off.'" Templeton unhooked the polygraph, and according to Higazy, called Higazy a baby and told him that a nine-year-old could tolerate this pain. Templeton left the room to get Higazy water, and upon his return, Higazy asked whether anybody else had ever suffered physical pain during the polygraph, to which Templeton replied: "[i]t never happened to anyone who told the truth."

            Higazy alleges that during the polygraph, Templeton told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny" and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell." Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't - yeah, probably about torture, sure."

            Higazy later said, "I knew that I couldn't prove my innocence, and I knew that my family was in danger." He explained that "[t]he only thing that went through my head was oh, my God, I am screwed and my family's in danger. If I say this device is mine, I'm screwed and my family is going to be safe. If I say this device is not mine, I'm screwed and my family's in danger. And Agent Templeton made it quite clear that cooperate had to mean saying something else other than this device is not mine."
            Higazy explained why he feared for his family:

            The Egyptian government has very little tolerance for anybody who is --they're suspicious of being a terrorist. To give you an idea, Saddam's security force--as they later on were called his henchmen--a lot of them learned their methods and techniques in Egypt; torture, rape, some stuff would be even too sick to . . . . My father is 67. My mother is 61. I have a brother who developed arthritis at 19. He still has it today. When the word 'torture' comes at least for my brother, I mean, all they have to do is really just press on one of these knuckles. I couldn't imagine them doing anything to my sister.
            And Higazy added:

            [L]et's just say a lot of people in Egypt would stay away from a family that they know or they believe or even rumored to have anything to do with terrorists and by the same token, some people who actually could be --might try to get to them and somebody might actually make a connection. I wasn't going to risk that. I wasn't going to risk that, so I thought to myself what could I say that he would believe. What could I say that's convincing? And I said okay.

            There are other changes in there, though much smaller. I haven't gone through it exhaustively. The above seemed to be the big thing. Threats against the suspects family...

            The only other thing that leapt out at me from a brief skim was the comment that they didn't believe a polygraph would be useful because "if he was a member of Al Quaeda, he could pass it." I find that comment fascinating, too.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jfengel (409917)

              "[i]t never happened to anyone who told the truth."

              That's very odd. A polygraph cuff is just helping to take your blood pressure, and it doesn't hurt. If you set it to the point of pain it wouldn't do any good.

              It's not like the thing responds to perceived lies with more pressure, or that the reactions it's measuring are painful. That would completely throw off what little good the polygraph is actually able to do.

              So I have no idea why the guy would say that, unless he's not operating the polygraph properly and has no conception of how it's supposed to b

            • by SethJohnson (112166) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:24PM (#21078325) Homepage Journal


              Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't - yeah, probably about torture, sure."

              Don't let this pawn distract you. The US perceives Egypt as rank amateurs in their torture methodology. America's secret prison rendition system sends lower-ranking captives to Egypt for torturing, while using the CIA-operated secret prisons for higher-level suspects.

              From the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com]:

              "A second tier -- which these sources believe includes more than 70 detainees -- is a group considered less important, with less direct involvement in terrorism and having limited intelligence value. These prisoners, some of whom were originally taken to black sites, are delivered to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, a process sometimes known as "rendition." While the first-tier black sites are run by CIA officers, the jails in these countries are operated by the host nations, with CIA financial assistance and, sometimes, direction."


              Ten years ago, we used to talk about the existence of Black Helicopters [wikipedia.org] and people would laugh at these conspiracy theories. Now people wonder why we're making such a big deal about them.

              Seth
      • by neo (4625) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:45PM (#21075225)
        Guys, you can't have it both ways. Reading /. and listening to Air America, George Bush is either an evil genius able to mastermind these great conspiracies, or, he's dumb as a rock.

        Ah, you've fallen into his trap.

        You see while GW is pretty much incapable of mustering the intelligence of the average 9th grader he does excel at one aspect of business and politics. He delegates extremely well. Not only that, but when the person he delegates something to messes up, he takes the blame and protects his people, thus insulating his delegation from public scrutiny.

        In every situation, he makes no decisions. He brings in an expert to do that. You want evil genius? Hired. But if said evil genius is not there speaking into his ear, when you talk to GW you get the ninth grader.

        I hope that explains it for you, because this is waaaay off topic.
        • by tom's a-cold (253195) on Monday October 22, 2007 @03:37PM (#21075949) Homepage

          [...] he does excel at one aspect of business and politics. He delegates extremely well.
          Bush also has the political instincts of a demagogue. He's adept at shifting the blame and taking credit when he can. It appears that his "excellence at delegation" is largely because he's intellectually lazy: there have been many inside accounts that depict him as being disengaged from the details of what's going on. Whether that's because he just lacks the intellect to grasp the details, or lacks the motivation, is irrelevant, since the result is the same either way. Real excellence at delegation includes being able to control the parameters of what has been delegated. Neglecting to maintain effective oversight and policy control is not delegation, it's shirking responsibility. The two themes of the Bush administration have been to assert unlimited authority, and to avoid even the most cursory accountability. It's the operating model of a tinpot dictatorship.

      • by domatic (1128127)
        I suspect "plausible deniability" wasn't in the lexicon when this [trumanlibrary.org] once sat on a President's desk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clambake (37702)
      If by "classified" they mean mean "stuff that makes us look bad".

      If my "stuff that makes us look bad" you mean "stuff that shows we *are* bad".
      • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:58PM (#21075433) Homepage
        What's creepy is that without this slip-up, they would have gotten away with it.... yeah uh huh, connected to the 9/11 attack, probably something to do with intelligence info which is kept under wraps, classifying a few parts is fine.

        Having read the unredacted opinion, I don't see anything that's even remotely classified information. All I see is an FBI agent making veiled threats against his family and making some bold claims about egyptian security forces which are probably taken out of thin air. And how they force him into one "confession", then making him invent more and more fantastic stories before finally using his changing statements against him. There's a long list of nations covering up their interrogation methods, I just didn't know the US aspired to be one of them.
        • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by the_arrow (171557) on Monday October 22, 2007 @04:49PM (#21077093) Homepage

          making some bold claims about egyptian security forces which are probably taken out of thin air

          Well, one word from FBI to the Egyptian police, and the family will be taken in for questioning. And by questioning I mean full-body-contact questioning.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nezer (92629)

      Perhaps Bush taught them a few too many unwholesome lessons of corruption?
      The FBI was unwholesomely corrupt long before either Bush became president. Bush might actively promote and allow corruption to happen, but to imply that Bush is responsible for corruption in the FBI is laughable. Bush might be as corrupt (or even more) than Nixon but, if anything, the FBI taught Bush lessons in unwholesome corruption. After all, they have been at it a LOT longer than Bush has!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by plague3106 (71849)
        Indeed. The FBI was corrupt from day one. Anyone that's done just a bit of digging in historical accounts can tell you that.
    • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ravensfire (209905) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:49PM (#21074381) Homepage
      Bush?

      Do you REALLY think this just started with Bush? Or just this century?

      All that's happened recently is it's now harder to hide things, and easier to leak anonymously. Politician hiding information they don't like is far, far older.

      Bush didn't teach them shit about corruption - see J. Edgar Hoover.

      -- Ravensfire
    • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Informative)

      by tiny69 (34486) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:26PM (#21074959) Homepage Journal
      The Executive Order that starts the entire process that determines what can and cannot be classified states:

      Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.

      (a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

      (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;

      (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;

      http://www.archives.gov/isoo/policy-documents/eo-12958-amendment.html#1.7 [archives.gov]

      My guess is that some Original Classification Authority (OCA) signed off on a Security Classification Guide that states interrogation techniques used by the FBI are classified.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here is the full transcript of the removed text as of the original statement http://howappealing.law.com/HigazyVsTempleton05-4148-cv_opnWithdrawn.pdf [law.com]:

      Higazy alleges that during the polygraph, Templeton told him that he should cooperate,
      and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny"
      and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell." Templeton later admitted
      that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that they had a security ser
      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday October 22, 2007 @04:06PM (#21076407)
        And this is the shiny new example of why torture doesn't work. It certainly doesn't work in the Jack Bauer style, where you just need to apply a little more pressure to get the evil guy to give up the detonation codes. And it scares me to death that some people (Slick Willy, I'm looking at you) think that this is the right approach.

        Here's what 24 doesn't tell you: You don't know who you have. If you did, you wouldn't need to interrogate them, because you'd already pretty much know everything about them. Or at the very least, you'd know the broad strokes and just want to fill in the details. However, as demonstrated during the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, even when you know who you have and want to get some more details about past operations, torture is misguided. According to congressional hearings on the matter, it is thought that most of his confessions were nothing but attempts to get through the interrogation and protect his family. This is the second thing that 24 doesn't tell you: torture elicits probably results in more disinformation than regular interrogation techniques. Why? Because the interrogators are being told what they want to hear. Combined with the drive to show success, confirmation bias and a whole host of other human failings, this can send investigators on a far more dangerous goose chase than a detainee just telling random stories.

        What really pisses me off is that the US military knew all this and this codified in their interrogation handbook: torture doesn't work, so there's no point in attempting it. But some criminally inept politicians - all without a day of military or covert experience - decided that they knew better and created new rules from scratch. The end result? Nothing but our loss of the moral high ground. Oh, and a whole bunch of information that is most likely wrong.

        Congrats, US leaders: you managed to completely hose one of our main advantages in the "war" on terror. Sadly, the next crop (Hillary or Guliani, most likely) will be just as bad. Why? Because the majority of the voters buy into the 24 approach to terror. Which means we get the leaders we deserve.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HiThere (15173)
          Congrats, US leaders: you managed to completely hose one of our main advantages in the "war" on terror. Sadly, the next crop (Hillary or Guliani, most likely) will be just as bad. Why? Because the majority of the voters buy into the 24 approach to terror. Which means we get the leaders we deserve.

          No, they'll be just as bad because of the systematic structure of the US electorial system. It's a system where if you don't vote for the most popular candidate, you vote is worthless, so you need to guess which o
        • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @02:26AM (#21081905)
          Kristol et al are fascinated with 24, as their mentor Leo Strauss was fascinated with the TV western Gunsmoke. They think in this mode, where we're the good guys and the good guys have complete moral clarity. The thing about 24 and Gunsmoke is that they are fictional television programs. That seemingly obvious fact, and its implications, eludes many.

          Yes, you can have perfect moral clarity and know there is a ticking time bomb when you're part of a TV audience that saw the bad guy setting the bomb, but in reality you don't get to see the bomb--people are being tortured to see if there is a bomb, to see if this guy knows a guy who knows if there's a bomb, and so on...reality lacks the perfect god-like clarity that the neocons think they have.

          When you're dealing with someone who thinks that they have this moral clarity that only exists in fictional scenarios, you're dealing with someone very stupid, very arrogant, with a power fetish, or any combination of the three. Opposition to torture is grounded not just in the idea that torture is wrong, but in the recognition that we're fallible, our knowledge is limited, and basically that people can't be trusted with that level of power. This grounding humility is what is lacking in the neocons. They may be humble in other ways, praying to God and so forth, but they believe so strongly in their own vision that they feel that normal morality doesn't apply.

          This isn't strictly confined to the neocons--some leftists have tortured for the Marxist/Stalinist/whatever cause, no doubt, but they are long gone. The neocons may not have a monopoly on hubris, but they're the problem we're dealing with today.

    • Actually, it usually means "stuff that would be dangerous to allow some elements in the world to know." Tinfoil hat crew loves assuming that anything secret is just stuff that the government doesn't want us to know. Get off your high horse. Nobody in the government or otherwise, cares whether or not some angry student knows what this guy had to say in his testimony. Despite what you read on the conspiracy web sites, your penchant for reading subversive materials isn't really a threat to "The New World Order
  • What were the portions that were taken out? Details, not generalities.
    • by fizzywhistle (1111353) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:32PM (#21074149)
      its in the article:

      Higazy alleges that during the polygraph, Templeton told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny" and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell." Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't - yeah, probably about torture, sure."

      Higazy later said, "I knew that I couldn't prove my innocence, and I knew that my family was in danger." He explained that "[t]he only thing that went through my head was oh, my God, I am screwed and my family's in danger. If I say this device is mine, I'm screwed and my family is going to be safe. If I say this device is not mine, I'm screwed and my family's in danger. And Agent Templeton made it quite clear that cooperate had to mean saying something else other than this device is not mine."

      Higazy explained why he feared for his family:

              The Egyptian government has very little tolerance for anybody who is --they're suspicious of being a terrorist. To give you an idea, Saddam's security force--as they later on were called his henchmen--a lot of them learned their methods and techniques in Egypt; torture, rape, some stuff would be even too sick to . . . . My father is 67. My mother is 61. I have a brother who developed arthritis at 19. He still has it today. When the word 'torture' comes at least for my brother, I mean, all they have to do is really just press on one of these knuckles. I couldn't imagine them doing anything to my sister.

      And Higazy added:

              [L]et's just say a lot of people in Egypt would stay away from a family that they know or they believe or even rumored to have anything to do with terrorists and by the same token, some people who actually could be --might try to get to them and somebody might actually make a connection. I wasn't going to risk that. I wasn't going to risk that, so I thought to myself what could I say that he would believe. What could I say that's convincing? And I said okay.
  • by Squiffy (242681) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:33PM (#21074181) Homepage
    I see some confiscations in this blogger's future.
  • by sed quid in infernos (1167989) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:40PM (#21074271)
    Here's the unredacted opinion [law.com] and here's the redacted opinion [uscourts.gov].
  • by clambake (37702) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:41PM (#21074283) Homepage
    Imagine the radio really did belong to a terrorist... By coercing a confession from this guy, the FBI basically would be letting the *actual* terrorist go free and clear. If this doesn't make sense to you, imagine the case of a rapist on the loose. Imagine that every time a woman was raped, the police chose from a hat and arrested and tried a random person. Would that make your wife safer on the streets alone at night? Having a random guy in jail while the real rapist is still out on the hunt? What's more, thinking that the rapist is in jail, she might be MORE inclined to enter into riskier situations.

    This kind of "law enforcement" actually makes us LESS safe than simply doing nothing at all. Is the FBI *really* staffed by living, thinking humans? How could they possibly do this kind of thing and not be incredibly ashamed of themselves!?
    • "By coercing a confession from this guy, the FBI basically would be letting the *actual* terrorist go free and clear. If this doesn't make sense to you, imagine the case of a rapist on the loose. Imagine that every time a woman was raped, the police chose from a hat and arrested and tried a random person. Would that make your wife safer on the streets alone at night? Having a random guy in jail while the real rapist is still out on the hunt? What's more, thinking that the rapist is in jail, she might be MOR
  • by jordandeamattson (261036) <jordandm@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:42PM (#21074295) Homepage
    This is a perfect example of why I always, always, always get a local copy of anything I find hot and interesting. Court decisions are also always in PDF. Just download the puppy and hold onto it.

    If it is a web page, and you have the full Acrobat, then use the web capture facility to get a copy of it and store it away.

    The web is wonderful. But it has more opportunities to be "corrected" than the Soviet Union did during the Stalin's purges of the 30s and 40s.

    Yours,

    Jordan
  • Scary and stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:42PM (#21074297)
    I thought we were meant to be the good guys that don't do this kind of thing. We should do the right thing even if it is harder otherwise what are we fighting for?

    How can you rely on a confession extracted by force anyway? At least I know I'd say/admit to anything to just stop having my fingernails pulled out with pliers or whatever.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:43PM (#21074301) Homepage

    This is why a confession should never be trusted on its own — without other evidence. Nor is it really trusted on its own by the courts in free countries, such as ours — as evidenced by this very case.

    They may have coerced an admission from him, that it was his device, but without details on where he got it, and how he used it, that admission is quite worthless even if he were scared for his family's life enough to not backpaddle from the addmission in court... I'm quite proud, that he was not sufficiently scared, though...

    And, finally, we only know the details of the coercion from one side. The FBI agent, according to the article, merely "did not contest" the fact of coercion. That's not an admission of guilt by any measure...

    • by vertinox (846076)
      This is why a confession should never be trusted on its own -- without other evidence. Nor is it really trusted on its own by the courts in free countries, such as ours -- as evidenced by this very case.

      I would have a wager that if you give me duct tape, a pair of pliers, a "victim", and an official government sanction that says I can do anything I'd like and won't get into any trouble as long as he lives long enough for a secret trial that I can make him confess to any crime you need him to confess too eve
    • by schwaang (667808) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:48PM (#21075263)
      This kind of thing is why the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice [ccfaj.org] made recommendations to reduce wrongful convictions including:
      - mandatory recording of confessions made while in custody of law enforcement
      - corroboration of jailhouse informant testimony
      - standards for eyewitness identification procedures

      The Commission is made up of law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Their recommendations were embodied in three California Senate bills (SB511, SB609, SB756) and were passed by the Senate.

      Governor Schwarzenneger vetoed all three bills. About the bill requiring the recording of confessions he said: "This bill would place unnecessary restrictions on police investigators."
      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday October 23, 2007 @12:08AM (#21081137)
        Governor Schwarzenneger vetoed all three bills. About the bill requiring the recording of confessions he said: "This bill would place unnecessary restrictions on police investigators."

        And maybe it would have. But you know what? If we, as a society, truly believe that it is better for a guilty man to go free than to imprison an innocent one, maybe that's the price we have to pay.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@ ... Dl.com minus bsd> on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:54PM (#21074473) Homepage Journal
    For all of the bashing the left does about Bush, what is more telling is that Bush didn't really create the modern government that is capable of doing this. Everyone has had a hand in this. A police state machine is a police state machine, all the time, not just when a "good guy" is driving it. Stop attacking Bush, and start looking at the machine!

    Had there been no secretive FBI, no secretive CIA, no emphasis on the Federal power from the get go, none of this could have happened. Everyone looks at Bush / Cheney as if he were the mastermind of some vast conspiracy, when the practical matter is that we have had almost 75 years of a massive federal government on a wartime footing, just waiting for the next enemy to arrive. These agents don't need orders to torture people or to kill perceived enemies. They have been waiting to do this their whole lives. They need orders NOT TO, and they really need to be not employed at all.

    Instead, what the left wing is arguing for is a banana republic type of government - rule by personality, when instead, the best lesson to learn is that the government is the problem, and the solution to ensure our freedom is to deconstruct the government from the get go. If we could only put the "good guy" in charge of the police state, everything will be ok. Except that, we will still have a police state.

    Look at the facts. What Democrats opposed passage of the full 9/11 commission recommendations - essentially turn the USA into a police state. What Democrat has offered to repeal USA PATRIOT? What Democrat has volunteered to narrow the scope of CIA and FBI? There will be more Federal terror, not less, before this unfortunate behavior winds its course. We have to learn to discipline ourselves as voters - that, every time we panic and ask our government to protect us - we are really just empowering a bunch of thugs to enslave us.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:12PM (#21074721) Journal

      For all of the bashing the left does about Bush, what is more telling is that Bush didn't really create the modern government that is capable of doing this. Everyone has had a hand in this. A police state machine is a police state machine, all the time, not just when a "good guy" is driving it. Stop attacking Bush, and start looking at the machine!
      I'm not from the left, and I think Bush has earned a damned big boat load of bashing. What previous politicians left undone, Bush found ways to break the law and complete.

      The machine is not broken, the Constitution remains to this day a framework that is viable, and valid. It is the men in government that torture its meanings, and pervert the rule of law. So, YES, Bush does need bashing, impeached, and a couple of other things. It is directly under his rule that a 'war' was invented, the war on terror, so that he could press the powers of wartime to further oppress the American public. I do not post AC, and I urge anyone that is disturbed by the way things have been going in American politics and government lately to stand and be counted. There is but one candidate for 2008 that dares utter the word Constitution, never mind abide by it.

      You sir, you shall not defend Bush, for doing so is to say it's okay what he has done, and what has been done to My rights in his name. I say it is NOT right. I protest, both what he has done and what you are NOW doing to my rights by being passive and accepting and nearly forgiving him. The captain sinks with the ship, and if you think Bush deserves to slip away in a life raft, you are very mistaken.
      • I don't think the OP was defending Bush. He was just pointing out that Bush didn't start this police state. Under Bush, this nation has sunk to new lows, but it started sinking long before he got into office. Electing a new tyrant with a "D" in front of her (or his) name isn't the answer. Even electing a President who doesn't wipe his (or her) ass with the Constitution is only part of the solution. We also need a Congress that stands up for what is right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tjstork (137384)
        The machine is not broken, the Constitution remains to this day a framework that is viable, and valid. It is the men in government that torture its meanings, and pervert the rule of law.

        Yes, it is broke. The Constitution is great, but nobody listens to it. It's supposed to be a grant of powers to the government, not an enumeration of rights of the people, so, from the get go, we've lost all of our natural rights without even firing a shot. A number of federal agencies and rules are, essentially, unconsti
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bersl2 (689221)
        I think what the GP is trying to say---and if it's not, it's what I'm saying---is that Bush doesn't matter so much: the broad powers granted to the central government long ago are what have brought us to this point; and if you have your way, and Bush is impeached and removed from office, and whatever can be undone is undone, then what? Problems that pre-existed his presidency are still here, and they are endless in number and variety. Do you honestly believe, with the continuing trend of increasing power ex
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MickLinux (579158)
        You say the Constitution remains to this day a framework that is viable and valid.
        Name any one of the ten amendments that is not regularly broken.

        Or perhaps you mean that there are checks and balances?

        I might note that most of Bush's appointments, which are supposed to be confirmed by the Senate, are unconfirmed. That's a sign of a dictatorship.

        I might also note that the CIA appeared to capture the US presidency in the Reagan/Carter election, after a disenchantment with Carter for shaking up the CIA. It w
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You apparently haven't been around very long - during the clinton years I received daily rants from conservatives about Janet Reno's jack-booted thugs, etc. Much of the (often incorrect) info came from Rush Limbaugh and other mouthpieces on the far right.

      Now where is all this outrage? Where did all those concerned with reigning in federal government go? The answer is apparently, that they really don't mind a federal government that strong-arms its population - they merely mind if it isn't being used to f
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by afabbro (33948)
      Instead, what the left wing is arguing for is a banana republic type of government

      If the left ever gained absolute power in this country, we'd all be in concentration camps, guarded by soldiers wearing armbands with peace insignias, with Joan Baez droning 24x7 from the public address.

    • Ok, i'm not quite well informed in US politics, but when was the last time (before Bush), that the president pardoned someone already convicted in a government conspiracy. (the Plame story).
      • by tjstork (137384)
        Ok, i'm not quite well informed in US politics, but when was the last time (before Bush), that the president pardoned someone already convicted in a government conspiracy. (the Plame story).

        Oh, here we go. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, and a few terrorists already convicted for plotting to blow up police.
    • by rhizome (115711)
      Stop attacking Bush, and start looking at the machine!

      Of course the tools were there, as all tools always are (a hammer does not make a murder-machine). While there are plenty of people in law enforcement who just love to kick ass but are restricted by laws, are you disputing that Cheney (and Bush by extension) has removed the leash?

      Your entire "banana republic" paragraph is a straw-man, so we can ignore that, except for one part:

      instead, the best lesson to learn is that the government is the problem,

      If thi
  • by jc42 (318812) on Monday October 22, 2007 @01:56PM (#21074491) Homepage Journal
    It reminds me of the Jim Morin cartoon [gocomics.com] last week. That was about another case of "national security" being used to suppress information that was embarrassing to the government, but the basic idea is the same.

    There's lots of historic evidence now that official secrecy in the US (and all other governments) rarely has anything to do with "national security". The primary reason for secrecy has always been to prevent a government's own citizens from knowing about the inner workings of their own government.

    Suppression of evidence that would exonerate a defendant in a criminal court case is the most egregious sort of misuse of official secrecy, true, and it's routinely used for things much less important than this. Occasionally, it is actually used to prevent a nation's external enemies to learn something embarrassing. But mostly it's just to keep internal enemies (aka "citizens") from learning things that the government doesn't want you or me (or a judge) to know.

  • From the redacted opinion:

    "This opinion has been redacted because portions of the record are under seal. For the purposes of the summary judgment motion, Templeton did not contest that Higazy's statements were coerced."
  • Of course, we only have your word for this now. How long before you become classified?.
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin&amiran,us> on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:17PM (#21074811) Homepage Journal
    Government secrecy will *always* be used to hide incompetence and evil.

    There is *no* reason for secrecy within our government. There are *no* reasons for classified material at all. Not any more.

    We live in a unipolar world. We are the "strong". There isn't any more reason for us to play cloak and dagger, all we have to do is sit back, have proper, up-front security measures, utilize common sense public surveillance (i.e. patrol officers in problem areas, surveillance inside airports, monitoring of known "bad guy" websites), and we'll be safe.

    I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why any of the secrecy provisions pushed forth by the Bush administration contribute to our security.

    For that matter, I don't believe that any of the other CIA/FBI "black ops" contribute either. Rendition might make some warhawks in the executive branch feel good, but it is nonsensical that it helps to protect our nation. Better XRAY machines, and locks on cockpit doors protect our nations. Paying our troops more money protects our nation, as would federal marshalls on planes, and a whole bunch of other measures.

    But taking our suspected enemies to Libya and beating the crap out of them? What does that accomplish?
  • Google News question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Insightfill (554828) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:28PM (#21074983) Homepage
    OK, a search on Google News on "Higazy" when the story broke showed a whole SIX hits, went down to zero for a while, then went back up to one. Any idea what's going on here?
    • Replying to myself; it seems that Google News is now showing over 100 hits for "Higazy", so it appears things are perking up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EricWright (16803)
      Either Google News hates you, or /. actually has NEWs.

      "Results 1 - 10 of about 103 for Higazy"
    • I've got to wonder what you're talking about. When I searched Google News for Higazy, I got over a hundred hits. Abdallah Higazy returned over sixty.

      CHris Mattern
  • Redacted part (Score:5, Informative)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:38PM (#21075131)
    Here is the redacted part:

    Higazy alleges that during the polygraph, Templeton told him that he should cooperate, and explained that if Higazy did not cooperate, the FBI would make his brother "live in scrutiny" and would "make sure that Egyptian security gives [his] family hell." Templeton later admitted that he knew how the Egyptian security forces operated: "that they had a security service, that their laws are different than ours, that they are probably allowed to do things in that country where they don't advise people of their rights, they don't - yeah, probably about torture, sure."

    Higazy later said, "I knew that I couldn't prove my innocence, and I knew that my family was in danger." He explained that "[t]he only thing that went through my head was oh, my God, I am screwed and my family's in danger. If I say this device is mine, I'm screwed and my family is going to be safe. If I say this device is not mine, I'm screwed and my family's in danger. And Agent Templeton made it quite clear that cooperate had to mean saying something else other than this device is not mine."

    Higazy explained why he feared for his family:

    "The Egyptian government has very little tolerance for anybody who is --they're suspicious of being a terrorist. To give you an idea, Saddam's security force--as they later on were called his henchmen--a lot of them learned their methods and techniques in Egypt; torture, rape, some stuff would be even too sick to . . . . My father is 67. My mother is 61. I have a brother who developed arthritis at 19. He still has it today. When the word 'torture' comes at least for my brother, I mean, all they have to do is really just press on one of these knuckles. I couldn't imagine them doing anything to my sister."

    And Higazy added:

    "[L]et's just say a lot of people in Egypt would stay away from a family that they know or they believe or even rumored to have anything to do with terrorists and by the same token, some people who actually could be --might try to get to them and somebody might actually make a connection. I wasn't going to risk that. I wasn't going to risk that, so I thought to myself what could I say that he would believe. What could I say that's convincing? And I said okay."
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Monday October 22, 2007 @02:54PM (#21075371) Homepage Journal
    You probably don't realize that not only does torture not work, it actually gives you incredibly bad information.

    The suggestion by a poster that they "give him warm milk and cookies" is actually one of many proven methods of interrogation.

    Interrogation - the act of questioning. One has a number of people interact with the subject, and one or more of those people takes "the side" of the person being interrogated, bonding with them on many levels.

    This works very very often.

    It is far more effective, gives highly reliable results, and if cross-referenced, will yield even more results.

    In short: Torture does not work. Interrogation - not involving torture - does work.

    We'd be far better off spending 1/1000th as much as we waste on military ops against terrorists and hiring trained police interrogators (not torturers) and detectives who understand the social and cultural background of the terrorists.

    Mind you, a few nukes in Saudi Arabia would solve the whole problem, since Iraq has nothing to do with 9-11. FYI, Pakistan is not our ally, no matter what they tell you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by stwrtpj (518864)

      The suggestion by a poster that they "give him warm milk and cookies" is actually one of many proven methods of interrogation.
      And if that doesn't work, it will be followed by the comfy chair.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by WillAffleckUW (858324)
        Never underestimate the power of a comfy chair.

        Especially if you've been standing for 14 hours with metal clips attached to your outstreched arms while your head is covered by a hood.
    • I disagree that Nukes would solve anything.

        If we pay attention to the legitimate grievances of the local population, and behave ourselves, the local population, who fear and despise the Jihadist movements as a rule, will turn the Jihadists in (those that remain Jihadist in outlook).

        Even a bare minimum regard for the economic well-being of the general population nips these movements in the bud, which is why they are absent in Turkey (which has religious conservatives, but they are not at all the same) and Libya (hardly a paradigm example in other respects) but so prevalent in Algeria and Egypt.

        In fact, in the wake of 9/11, this is what began to happen. The Jihadist movements were on the run and would have been destroyed.

        Except that we invaded Iraq, religitimizing these movements in the eyes of the general population to a significant extent, and saving them from destruction at the hands of their own populations, who are also their primary victims. So while Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the invasion of Iraq contributed immensely the possibility that we'll see further attacks.

        As for nuking Saudi Arabia - we'd see a similar effect. The rest of the world would see attacks against the US as legitimate, and they'd unite against us. US-friendly regimes in Turkey, the Balkans and Indonesia would become unviable. It would be an absolute disaster.

        There are two basic things that we could do to reduce the threat of terror, and they would work:
      1) Police work, as you say.
        and
      2) Basic honor and decency.
  • by arbitraryaardvark (845916) <gtbear.gmail@com> on Monday October 22, 2007 @04:05PM (#21076377) Homepage Journal
    There's no issue here about the info being classified.
    What the story is about is that the court issued an opinion, then withdrew it, and issues a redacted opinion. Probably what happened is that the the court had inadvertently included info that was under seal by the district court.
    One possible explanation for the redaction is to protect the guy's family in Egypt.
    Another, maybe more likely, explanation was to avoid embarrassment to the FBI.
    The story was broken by blogger Howard Bashman of How Appealing, who refused to take down the unredacted version after a call from the court asking him to take it down.
    http://patterico.com/2007/10/21/was-a-passage-omitted-from-a-recent-second-circuit-opinion-for-security-reasons-or-to-cover-up-material-embarrassing-to-the-fbi/ [patterico.com]
    http://howappealing.law.com/102007.html#029139 [law.com]

    Above post is insightful and informative.

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