Obama Administration Exploits Miranda Loophole

Monday, May 10, 2010
Convicted rapist Ernesto Arturo Miranda (photo: Arizona Republic)

Seeking a compromise between the right and left, the Obama administration is making use of an old exception to the Miranda rule so that federal agents can interrogate terrorism suspects before informing them of their right to remain silent and seek legal counsel. The so-called “Miranda rights” rule was the result of a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The little-known exception, first crafted by a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, allows law enforcement to delay reading someone their Miranda rights if there is a public safety concern involved—and testimony taken during this period is still admissible in court.
The U.S. Department of Justice is using this public safety exception as a middle ground between conservatives who want suspects classified as “enemy combatants” (the approach used by the Bush administration) and liberals who want suspects put through the criminal justice system.
Federal agents reportedly used the Miranda exception for Times Square attempted bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and failed Christmas Day bomber Umar Abdulmutallab, questioning the former for more than three hours before reading him his rights, and the latter for 50 minutes. Reportedly, after Shahzad was read his rights, he waived them and continued talking.
Attorney General Eric Holder said on ABC’s “This Week” that the administration is giving “serious consideration to at least modifying that public-safety exception.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)


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