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Suddenly, Holder Backs Miranda Limits!

First a clip and partial transcript from NBC’s Meet The Press:

MR. HOLDER: … [Mr. Shahzad] was given his Miranda warnings after the public safety exception questioning was finished, and he has talked to us and he continues to talk to us.

MR. GREGORY: But would you like interrogators to have more flexibility?

MR. HOLDER: I think we have to look at the rules that we have and look at the situation that we now confront.  The public safety exception was really based on a robbery that occurred back in the ’80s and something to do with a supermarket. We’re now dealing with international terrorists, and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.

MR. GREGORY: So let me, let me unpack that a little bit.  What you’d like to see happen is that Congress would pass a law that would say to judges, "Hey, look, in this environment if we extract information that could be valuable intelligence about another terror plot, about who they’re involved in, whether they’re connected to the Pakistani Taliban, we want to get all that without them lawyering up and still be able to use that against them in the court of law." And you need more flexibility to do that, you think.

MR. HOLDER: Yeah. We certainly need more flexibility, and we want the public safety exception to be consistent with the public safety concerns that we now have in the 21st century as opposed to the public safety concerns that we had back in the 1980s.

MR. GREGORY: So that’s news. I mean, that’s an important development. Would you work with Congress to try to get that new law passed?

MR. HOLDER: Yeah. We want to work with Congress to come up with a way in which we make our public safety exception more flexible and, again, more consistent with the threat that we face. And yes, this is, in fact, big news. This is a proposal that we’re going to be making and that we want to work with Congress about.

MR. GREGORY: So a new priority for the administration.

MR. HOLDER: It is a new priority…

From a surely conflicted New York Times:

Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects


May 9, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer.

He said interrogators needed greater flexibility to question terrorism suspects than is provided by existing exceptions

For months, the administration has defended the criminal justice system as strong enough to handle terrorism cases. Mr. Holder acknowledged the abrupt shift of tone, characterizing the administration’s stance as a “new priority” and “big news” in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’re now dealing with international terrorists,” he said, “and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.”

This is quite a change of tune since Mr. Holder’s tortured explanation to Congress about the administration’s handling of the underwear bomber, Mr. Abdulmutallab, back in February.

At that time, Mr. Holder argued extensively (ad nausea, in fact) that the current rules are more than enough to get the information from any detained terror suspect.

Even before the attempted Times Square attack, the administration had been stretching the traditional limits of how long suspects may be questioned without being warned of their rights.

After the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet on Dec. 25, for example, the F.B.I. questioned the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for about 50 minutes without reading him his rights. And last week, Mr. Brennan said, the F.B.I. interrogated Mr. Shahzad for three or four hours before delivering a Miranda warning.

In both cases, the administration relied on an exception to Miranda for immediate threats to public safety. That exception was established by the Supreme Court in a 1984 case in which a police officer asked a suspect, at the time of his arrest and before reading him his rights, about where he had hidden a gun. The court deemed the defendant’s answer and the gun admissible as evidence against him…

So the Obama administration has not really been “stretching the traditional limits,” after all. In fact, quite the contrary.

Any effort to further limit the Miranda rule will be likely to face challenges. In a 2000 case, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to strike down a statute that essentially overruled Miranda by allowing prosecutors to use statements defendants made voluntarily before being read their rights.

Despite the political furor over reading terrorism suspects their Miranda rights, it is not clear that doing so has had a major impact on recent interrogations.

For example, even after Mr. Shahzad was read his rights, he waived them and continued talking. With Mr. Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to light a bomb hidden in his undergarments, the pre-Miranda interrogation lasted until he was taken into surgery for the burns he suffered. Afterward, he did not resume cooperating and was also read his Miranda rights, although the sequence of events is uncertain. Relatives later persuaded him to start talking again

How fully is Mr. Shahzad cooperating? After all, the government took a long time to ascertain whether he was working with the Pakistani Taliban or not. Also, had it not been for his relatives, Mr. Abdulmutallab might not have talked.

Why didn’t The Times cite the case of Major Nidal Hasan? Did he cooperate after he was Mirandized?

We are currently Mirandizing terrorists captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. How insane is that?

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Congress had no authority to “chip away” at the Miranda ruling because it was based in the Constitution. He predicted that any effort to carve a broader exception would be vigorously contested.

Really? The ACLU loves the chip away at rights based in the Constitution, such as the right to own a gun.

Besides, if Miranda rights are so obvious in the Constitution, why weren’t they discovered by the Supreme Court until 1966?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, May 10th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Suddenly, Holder Backs Miranda Limits!”

  1. proreason says:

    Eric Holder…..neocon

  2. Right of the People says:

    They’re just setting up things for when they start arresting “Teabaggers” so they’ll be able to interrogate them without a lawyer present. According to Janet the Lame, conservatives are all potential terrorists.

    I think secretly they’re thrilled that this latest scumbag was a citizen, it makes it easier for them later on.

  3. canary says:

    Holden’s limiting Miranda rights is just propaganda to look tough against terrorism, when the limits are already in effect when it comes to a national security threat. So why would Holden announce this?

    Because, Holden will widen the scope of not reading Miranda rights so that they can go up to you at a tea party waving a flag, and arrest you and ask what Republican forced you to gather for this radical anti-government coup.

    sorry, Right of the People, I see you already picked up on the real reason too.

  4. jackal40 says:

    When I was on active duty, we were taught the Geneva Conventions, how to handle prisoners on the battlefield, and how we were supposed to be treated. I seem to recall that as a signatory of the Conventions, we had to treat any combatant according to those rules. Now our government wants to change (modify) the rules for treating enemy combatants and citizens of the United States.

    Sorry, but I think it’s time our elected government be reminded of the part of the Constitution which says, “We the People of the United States” means just that – the people of the United States. Not the islamo fascists, not the illegal immigrants, not the right or left wings, not the wackos, not the special interests, not the lobbyists, just the PEOPLE. Which means that the PEOPLE want fiscal responsibility. The PEOPLE want fair and just representation. PEOPLE want our laws enforced. And the PEOPLE want the size of government reduced.

    “You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out!”

  5. JohnMG says:

    …..”And you need more flexibility to do that, you think.”

    MR. HOLDER: “Yeah. We certainly need more flexibility…..”

    A wet towel over the face, saturated with additional water…….how much more flexible can you get?

    What’s that?……Oh. Sorry!

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