The proposal to chip away at Miranda rights is yet another attempt in recent weeks to carve out exceptions to fundamental legal protections for people the government has labeled terrorists, or “suspected terrorists.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said the recent Times Square bombing attempt reflects the need for “modifying the rules” in the case of suspected terrorists. The administration argues that reading someone their rights interrupts the flow of interruption and could prevent investigators from learning critical information.
This is a solution in search of a problem. There is already a law on the books allowing a delayed reading of Miranda rights if there is an immediate threat to public safety. According to The New York Times:
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.
Plus, even after Shahzad was read his rights, he waived them and kept talking.
In supporting this legislation, Obama is lock-step with far-right politicians who say that when it comes to “terrorism” cases, the rule of law is too inconvenient.
Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani said of the Times Square bomber: “I would not have given him Miranda warnings after just a couple of hours of questioning…I would have instead declared him an enemy combatant…”
This proposal comes at the same time there is a bipartisan bill to strip “suspected terrorists” of their citizenship, and Arizona has outlawed ethnic studies programs and classes that are “subversive.” In addition to all of this, in Obama’s home state there is a secretive political prison that could be made permanent.
Supporters of all of these unconstitutional policies claim that if you aren’t a terrorist, you have nothing to worry about. These laws, we’re told, are merely tools to keep us safe.
My question at this point is: Is there anything off the table? Is there any part of the Constitution that Obama and others are not willing to hack? Any point at which they say, “No, now that would just be going too far”?
What was it again the terrorists hate?