Obama administration withholding Boston bombing suspect’s Miranda rights as he recovers in hospital
By End the Lie
Over 12 hours after the arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers allegedly involved in the Boston Marathon bombing, the Obama administration continues to refuse to read him his Miranda rights.
Keep in mind that Tsarnaev is an American citizen, yet still an official from the Justice Department said that they are invoking the “public safety exception” and will not inform him of his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said Tsarnaev is in stable condition in the hospital but likely can’t communicate yet, according to the Associated Press.
“The public safety exception permits law enforcement officials to engage in a limited and focused unwarned interrogation of a suspect and allows the government to introduce the statement as evidence in court,” the Associated Press reports.
The public safety exception is supposed to be used when police have an objectively reasonable need to protect either the public or police from immediate danger.
While it may seem unclear how Tsarnaev poses a danger to police or the public at this time, investigators say otherwise.
“Investigators have said that the exception was necessary in this case because it was unclear whether an possible accomplice was still at large, or whether the suspect had additional explosives,” according to MSNBC.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already issued a statement this morning detailing their objection to this application of the public safety exception.
“The public safety exception should be read narrowly, it applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety, and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule,” the ACLU stated.
The obvious problem with the public safety exception was pointed out by Slate yesterday.
“Who gets to make this determination? The FBI, in consultation with DoJ, if possible. In other words, the police and the prosecutors, with no one to check their power,” Emily Bazelon wrote.
Vince Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights has raised similar objections and called on the investigators to follow the rule of law.
“If officials require suspects to incriminate themselves, they are making fair trials and due process merely option and not a requirement,” Warren said. “To venture down that road again will make law enforcement accountable to no one.”
NBC News noted that while the exception does not place a precise limit on how long a suspect can be interrogated by investigators without being informed of their rights, “it likely buys authorities no more than 48 hours.”
During those 48 hours, Tsarnaev will be interrogated by an interagency team called the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group.
This group is made up of individuals from the FBI, CIA and Defense Department. Any statements made during the interrogation will be admissible in court even though he won’t have a lawyer present.
Glenn Greenwald points out just how insane the media’s reaction to the Obama administration’s decision has been.
“Now, the cheers for this erosion of Miranda are led not by right-wing Supreme Court justices such as William Rehnquist (who wrote the opinion in Quarles), but by MSNBC pundits like former Obama campaign media aide Joy Reid, who – immediately upon the DOJ’s announcement – instantly became a newly minted Miranda expert in order to loudly defend the DOJ’s actions,” Greenwald wrote.
“MSNBC’s featured ‘terrorism expert’ Roger Cressey – who, unbeknownst to MSNBC viewers, is actually an executive with the intelligence contractor Booz Allen – also praised the DOJ’s decision not to Mirandize the accused bomber (if you want instant, reflexive support for the US government’s police and military powers, MSNBC is the place to turn these days),” he added.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a joint statement with Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, that Tsarnaev should be treated as an enemy combatant.
“Now that the suspect is in custody, the last thing we should want is for him to remain silent,” Graham said, indicating that he supports withholding the suspect’s rights.
“It is absolutely vital the suspect be questioned for intelligence gathering purposes,” the statement continued. “We need to know about any possible future attacks which could take additional American lives. The least of our worries is a criminal trial which will likely be held years from now.”
“Under the Law of War we can hold this suspect as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or the appointment of counsel,” the senators stated.
In other words, they support completely stripping Tsarnaev of the basic right to a lawyer and other rights all in the name of national security.
We can only wonder how long the Obama administration will hold off on Mirandizing Tsarnaev, especially since he is recovering in the hospital and, according to Patrick, likely can’t communicate at this point.
Updates will follow as more information is available.
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