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Egypt Shocked by Proof of Mubarak's Legacy

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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As Egypt's new Prime Minister swore in the new members of his Cabinet, the country was still reeling from a series of grisly disclosures involving the military, the dreaded security police, and the country's Coptic Christian community.

Perhaps they should not have been so outraged, because most of the brutal transgressions of the Mubarak regime have been known to practically everyone over a period of years.

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Nevertheless, pro-democracy supporters were outraged by what they saw and heard and demanded that those responsible be held accountable. While most seemed to accept that these experiences are a part of the birth pangs of democracy in the post-Mubarak era, they clamored for accountability and retribution.

What has happened that has been so sensational? Three things.

First, the pro-democracy supporters who attacked numerous buildings of the Egyptian secret police -- The State Security Agency -- found secret police burning and shredding files, but were able to take away a treasure trove of undamaged files.

Various reliable news sources reported that, inside one of the buildings, large quantities of papers had been found shredded and the Army had moved in to arrest more than 40 security officers for damaging State property. Military officers who were on the scene when the protesters barged into the

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State Security headquarters in Cairo and other cities tried to recover the

documents, wrangling some of them from the crowds. A senior prosecutor took possession of others.

But the pro-democracy supporters evidently got away with enough secret documents to create a dilemma for the interim military government: how to respond to now widely-seen spy files.

Some of the content of the documents is salacious and sinister, according to a report by Hannah Allam and Mohannas Sabry of McClatchy Newspapers.

There are several files that back State Security officers' reputation for

torture. In one letter stamped "top secret" in 2008 and made available on

Facebook, a senior official wrote that detainees suffered "injuries" while in

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State Security custody. He complained that questioning had to be delayed until the wounds had healed.

Another file, they report, is a tape purportedly involving a Kuwaiti princess and a prominent Egyptian businessman. Another paints Egypt's highest-ranking cleric as a womanizer.

The two reporters said that a woman named Israa Abdel Fattah, 32, a labor organizer and blogger, shared her file with McClatchy and "marveled at the thoroughness of the surveillance." The file included detailed transcripts of e-mails sent from her Gmail account and phone conversations with her ex-husband. The feeling of violation was indescribable, she said.

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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