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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


If you're looking for a scandal now that Eliot Spitzer is off the front pages, this might be just the thing for you.  About a year ago, three male FBI agents investigating the gangster Whitey Bulger were meeting with a female AUSA in the Boston federal courthouse.  As the meeting ended, one of the agents came up behind the AUSA and "gave her a Three Stooges-style noogie."   (For those of you who maybe didn't have older brothers, a noogie is given when someone grabs your head and rubs their nuckles into it.)

This raises all the obvious questions:  People still give noogies?  Who in their right mind gives noogies in an office?  How do you spell "noogie"?  But the story gets better (or worse).  The noogie-er was none other than the supervisor of the FBI's organized-crime squad in Boston.  The three agents then lied about the incident in an ensuing investigation, which lasted for a full year.  As a result, the three agents may be fired.  And the incident has "inflamed tensions between the FBI's Boston office and the U.S. attorney's office."

Surprisingly, the noogie has received comparatively little scholarly treatment.  A noogie is also known as a dutch rub, a monkey scrub, and a Russian haircut.  A Westlaw search reveals that difficult participants in mediation have been described as "tough noogies," drug dealers have adopted the nickname "Noogie," and school bus drivers have been disciplined for administering noogies to their charges.  An open issue is whether a noogie is a show of affection or an act of assault.

Unfortunately, this literature doesn't reveal many obvious grounds for a successful appeal by the FBI agents.  Whether intended as an act of affection or assault, lying about a noogie is serious business.  Hopefully tensions can die down and the USAO and the FBI can get back to business of noogie-ing the bad guys.  And maybe the three agents can parlay their fifteen minutes of fame into a Stooges merchandising deal.


Posted by Amy Barrett on March 25, 2008 at 07:29 AM | Permalink


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Having just finished my taxes, the idea of a yearlong investigation into a noogie by the FBI is amusing, but provokes a few other feelings too.

Posted by: death and taxes | Mar 25, 2008 7:56:55 PM

Hell is other people.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Mar 25, 2008 5:42:46 PM

It's never the noogie itself that's the big problem: it's the coverup.

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Mar 25, 2008 2:52:54 PM

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