REDACTIONS….Shortly after 9/11, an Egyptian national named Abdallah Higazy was rounded up by the FBI and told to confess that he had been part of the plot. If he didn’t, he was warned, things would go badly for his family. So he confessed. But then it turned out the FBI had made a mistake. He wasn’t part of the 9/11 plot after all.
So he sued the FBI. On Thursday the Second Circuit Court issued an opinion in the case, but a few minutes later the decision was pulled down from the court’s website. Steve Bergstein tells the story:
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. Just as the opinion gets interesting, when we are about to learn how an FBI agent named Templeton squeezed the “truth” out of Higazy, the opinion reads at page 7: “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.”
Obvious lessons here: (a) forced confessions aren’t worth the tape they’re recorded on, and (b) redactions for national security reasons often aren’t for national security reasons at all. But you already knew that, didn’t you?