Obama Administration Says Miranda Warning Doesn’t Count for Terror Suspects

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Convicted rapist Ernesto Arturo Miranda (photo: Arizona Republic)
In a move that likely will please conservatives, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its plan to expand the government’s power to hold terrorism suspects longer without issuing a Miranda warning.
Law enforcement is required to immediately read a criminal suspect his or her Miranda rights—to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning. However, a 1984 Supreme Court decision created an exception to the 1966 Miranda ruling that 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.
Critics on the right admonished the Obama administration after recent high-profile terrorism incidents involving the Christmas Day 2009 bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and the Times Square bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad. Both were questioned for a period of time before they were read their Miranda rights, which alarmed civil libertarians. Reportedly, Abdulmutallab was questioned for three hours before being read his rights and Shahzad for 50 minutes. Many conservatives felt Miranda should never have been a factor at all for the two suspects.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. believes the Justice Department has the authority to alter Miranda procedures without approval from Congress. Some lawmakers disagree, fearing any change that doesn’t have legislative backing will have a tougher time surviving a legal challenge in federal court.
It is unclear at this time just how long of a period Holder wants to give law enforcement to interrogate terrorism suspects without invoking Miranda.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Rights Are Curtailed for Terror Suspects (by Evan Perez, Wall Street Journal)


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