August 06, 2002

One Sign of Big Trouble in Post-911 Law Enforcement

One sign of big trouble in post-911 law enforcement:

F.B.I. Faces Inquiry on a False Confession From an Egyptian Student

...Abdallah Higazy. He was initially held as a material witness in the Sept. 11 investigation after a security guard said he had found an aviation radio in the safe in Mr. Higazy's hotel room, which overlooked the trade center site. Mr. Higazy was later charged with perjury when he denied owning the radio, and spent about a month in jail. He was released after the guard admitted making up the story about the radio. But while Mr. Higazy was in jail, prosecutors told Judge Rakoff that the student had confessed to an F.B.I. agent that he owned the radio, an admission now known to be untrue. Mr. Higazy asked for a polygraph exam to prove his innocence, the judge said, and an F.B.I. agent administered it without his lawyer present. But at some point, the F.B.I. agent, who has not been identified, stopped, and reportedly began to question Mr. Higazy, who then confessed, the judge noted. The confession fueled suspicions he might be tied to the hijackers. "The alleged misbehavior here," Judge Rakoff said, "consists, worst case, of an F.B.I. agent's taking unfair advantage of a situation created during a polygraph testing expressly requested by the witness to obtain from the witness a coerced or uncounseled confession that could be used to bring criminal charges against the witness." Although Mr. Higazy made no claims of physical abuse, he said recently that after he was left alone for several hours with the agent, he started hyperventilating and was ready to say anything. Mr. Higazy also said the agent had threatened his family's safety if he did not confess, the judge noted, adding that the government denied that allegation...

Posted by DeLong at August 6, 2002 05:47 AM | TrackBack


One can't have it both ways:

* allow secrecy in judicial action against suspected foreigners AND...

* expect fair legal treatment of foreigners suspected of terrorist links or activities.

... unless you expect the state to be so enlightened that anybody they suspect is necessarily guilty...

Did the Bush government (and all Congresmen and -women who approved the near abrogation of the 4th amendment to the Constitution) think it had a better grasp of those things than the founding fathers of America?

Posted by: LM on August 6, 2002 01:19 PM

Here is William Butler Yeats, addressing the Irish Senate on a bill that would give new powers to the Minister of Justice:

The Government does not intend these things to happen, the Commission on whose report the Bill was founded did not intend these things to happen, but in legislation intention is nothing, and the letter of the law everything, and no government has the right, whether to flatter fanatics or in mere vagueness of mind, to forge an instrument of tyranny and say that it will never be used.

(Quoted in Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century at 204 (2000))

Posted by: jda on August 6, 2002 02:12 PM

Any experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you that the FBI tactics in this case are extrememly common, taking place all the time in cases having nothing to do with the "war on terrorism."

Posted by: rea on August 6, 2002 02:49 PM

they're legal now...

Posted by: on August 6, 2002 04:23 PM
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