The Plank

Just Don't Blog About It

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There's plenty that's appalling in today's front-page New York Times story, about a U.S. military vet working as a whistleblower for the FBI who got picked up mistakenly, tossed in a cell and blasted with fluorescent lights and heavy-metal music, and detained for three months on "secret" charges without being allowed an attorney. But even given the context, I thought this passage at the end stuck out:

On his way out, Mr. Vance said: "They asked me if I was intending to write a book, would I talk to the press, would I be thinking of getting an attorney. I took it as, 'Shut up, don't talk about this place,' and I kept saying, 'No sir, I want to go home.'"

That's awfully similar to what happened in this story, posted last week, about an air traveler mistakenly detained by the FBI for a brief while (in fairness, this story isn't nearly as gruesome):

Finally, the agents had earlier asked that, as a favor, I would not write about this experience; I told them there were plenty of other things of this type online, but assured them I wouldn't refer to their names of course and they seemed okay with that reply.

Is this the standard end-of-detention send-off these days? Why, if these officials aren't doing anything wrong, do you suppose they'd be so nervous about being written about?

--Bradford Plumer

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